Time’s Up: Coleridge Street Home Now in Violation of BSC Order, Citations Forthcoming

October 17, 2011

The property owners at 4144 Coleridge will soon be cited 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.

The property owners at 4144 Coleridge will soon be cited 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.

The property, which is owned by Judith and Larry McDowell, is vacant and has fallen into disrepair.

The McDowells had until today to repair or demolish the garage on their lot, but as of this afternoon, nothing had been done to comply with the requirements of their extension.

The BSC ruled in July that the couple had 60 days, or until Sept. 15, to repair or demolish the garage, but the matter 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.

Chief Building Official John Brown told InstantNewsWestU today that the van was not moved from the lot within 72 hours and the McDowells had not applied for a demolition permit.

The van was moved from the property, but a new vehicle is now parked in its place.

The property owners are now in violation of their extension from the BSC and Brown said he will start issuing citations, which could cost a minimum of $500 a day.

The garage 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 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 but said they maintain their lawn and shrubbery.

Commissioner Laurinda Lankford said she drove by the residence recently and said it looked overgrown and dilapidated and a van was still parked in the driveway.

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.”

A for sale sign is placed on the property, but the McDowell’s neighbors said it 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 the commission that the garage is not visible from the street, but he was able to see the condition of the garage from the Wang’s property.

Brown did not have permission from the McDowells to go onto their property, he said.

He told the commission that the garage on the property has collapsed and is leaning towards the neighbor’s fence. The main structure, from what he can see, would also be considered a dangerous building, Brown said.

“The condition of the property has gotten worse,” he said.

Vickers told the commission that nothing that was said during the meeting helped his case but asked that they consider the extension of time.

“We have a serious problem here,” BSC Chair Richard Wilson said. “Other than a plea for mercy, you’re not giving us anything to work with here. Your folks are already in the face of a valid order from a duly constituted board and they’ve had their opportunities to be heard and they don’t even have the courtesy to show up.”

“We are willing to do anything reasonable to get this thing completed,” Vickers said.

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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