West U Residents May Soon See ‘Dangerous Structure’ Torn Down
West U residents may soon see a Coleridge Street home torn down after years of falling into disrepair and being deemed “dangerous” by the city.
Chief Building Official John Brown told InstantNewsWestU on Thursday that an electrical company has obtained a permit to disconnect the electrical from the house at 4144 Coleridge in preparation for demolition.
Property owners Judith and Larry McDowell were cited by the city for the “dangerous” garage on their lot after failing to comply with an order from the West U Building and Standards Commission to demolish or repair the building.
Brown said that he issued three citations on the property and the couple was found guilty of all three and were fined $1,000 per violation.
The condition of the McDowell’s garage was first brought to the BSC last July when the commission ruled that the couple had 60 days, or until Sept. 15, to repair or demolish the garage.
The matter then came back to the board on Oct. 7 to consider an extension until January 2012 or until the couple could sell the lot.
The commission granted an extension to comply with its current order until Oct. 17 provided that the van parked in the driveway was removed from the property within 72 hours and not brought back there.
Brown told the news organization that even though the McDowell’s have paid their fines, they are still in violation of the BSC’s order.
“They’re still in violation,” he said. “Just because they paid a fine doesn’t mean they’re in compliance.”
Brown said the city could issue more violations if the garage is not repaired or demolished.
While a demolition permit has not yet been issued, Brown said that’s usually the next step.
It is unknown at this time if the garage will be demolished or if both the house and the garage will be torn down.
The garage on the property has collapsed along the east side wall and was deemed dangerous by the city because it met eight out of 11 definitions of a dangerous building.
The garage is considered old stock housing and is required by city code to have at least a one car garage or a semi-enclosed garage.
Harrison Vickers, the McDowell’s attorney, told the BSC in October that the couple is doing everything they can to sell the property and was asking the board to give them a chance to sell it.
“They’re really not interested in repairing it,” he said. “They’re not against the demolition; they just don’t have the money to do it.”
Vickers said the McDowell’s haven’t lived in the home for some time.
Several of the McDowell’s neighbors addressed the BSC with their concerns about the property.
“The McDowell’s were great neighbors when they lived there,” Steve Malashock said, adding that the couple left the house after the hurricane in 2008. “We’ve seen it deteriorate to the worst on the block. Basically it’s an eyesore.”
The McDowell’s neighbors said a “for sale” sign has been put up and taken down numerous times since 2009. The price is hard to read and it’s not listed with a real estate agent, they said. One resident also said that the phone number listed on the sign is the couple’s home number.
“This is a high end neighborhood. To put a sign up like that, I wouldn’t even look at,” Peter Wang said. “The McDowell’s have lost all respect from their neighbors and the City of West U.”
Brown told InstantNewsWestU that it is his understanding that the property was sold.