Archive for Thursday, September 20, 2007

City gets plan for Main street’s crumbling wall

September 20, 2007

For more than a year, downtown businesses have lived with barricades set up to protect pedestrians from a crumbling wall on the west side of Main Street.

"It's kind of a dangerous situation," Cutter's Smokehouse and Pub owner Dan Strimple said of the wall and the barricades that block the sidewalk and cordon off parking stalls to the north of his business.

The city filed an abatement order in August 2006 asking the property owners of the wall at 706 Main St. to repair the cracked wall.

Now after more than a year, a possible solution to fix the problem has been offered by one of the property owners. Darrell Keim, who owns the south lot covered by the wall, submitted a sketch to the city earlier in the month outlining possible repairs.

His sketch comes after months of appeals on both city and county levels.

Eudora City Administrator Cheryl Beatty said she realized the process seemed slow.

"I know the public gets frustrated because they think it should have been taken care of a long time ago," Beatty said. "We have to go through these legal processes and that takes time."

In 2006, codes administrator Rick Treas delivered the abatement notice to Keim and Norman Denton, who owns the north lot on the property.

According the notice, "the structure is leaning out and abutting city pedestrian sidewalk," and "... has numerous horizontal and vertical fractures in the mortar."

Both Keim and the Denton family maintained during the appeal process that care for the wall was the city's responsibility.

The city filed a similar notice in 2001 and at that time helped make repairs to the wall.

The property owners and their counsel approached the Eudora Board of Zoning Appeals in October 2006.

Among the arguments, Keim and his lawyer, Mark Rockwell, made at the appeal hearing was that the wall was on a public right-of-way and, thus, city property. Rockwell also argued the board of appeals had decided the issue years earlier.

The Denton family, represented by Ed Collister argued that because the city agreed to fix the wall in 2001, it became the city's responsibility.

According to the hearing minutes, the Denton family had limited information because the transaction to fix the wall was made by their now deceased mother.

After hearing arguments from both the property owners and the city, the Board of Zoning Appeals in a split-decision decided to uphold the codes administrator's ruling.

Following the board's decision, Keim decided to bring the issue to the Douglas County District Court, which upheld the city's ruling.

The city has since continued to work with the property owners to fix the wall.

"At this time, at least Mr. Keim is attempting to cooperate," Beatty said.

The city's engineering firm, BG Consultants is working with Keim on the plans. The firm has yet to return to the city with a report, Beatty said.

It would be up to the Eudora City Council to decide the timeframe for completion on the repairs.

Beatty said the issue could back before the council at its next meeting at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Eudora City Hall, 4 East Seventh St.

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