Private St. Johns buildings deemed ‘dangerous’ one step closer to demolition

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703 Church Street, a building deemed "Dangerous" by the city

703 Church Street, a building deemed “Dangerous” by the city

By Jack Nissen
Clinton County Chatter

ST. JOHNS — Two private residents that have been deemed dangerous buildings by the city are a step closer to demolition.

On Monday, April 13, the city of St. Johns approved an order that would set a timetable on when the destruction process would commence.

This comes after a proposal to do so during the city’s last commission meeting. The council had voted unanimously to demolish the buildings.

“I appreciate the consideration that everyone on the council has taken in this process,” said Joe Latoff, a resident of the city. “But this needs to happen sooner rather than later.”

Unintended consequences of the dilapidated buildings at 703 Church St. and 204 E. Baldwin St. have seen a rise in drainage issues, quite literally as well as figuratively.

Latoff said that upgrading of roads around these buildings without the necessary renovations to the buildings themselves has resulted in poor drainage along the roads and the yards themselves.

204 E. Baldwin Street, the other building awaiting demolition. Old newspapers littered the surrounding sidewalks

204 E. Baldwin Street, the other building awaiting demolition. Old newspapers littered the surrounding sidewalks

“It’s an eyesore for all of us and I hope it’s dealt with soon,” said Latoff.

Two city administrators, Dennis D. LaForest, the city manager and Dave J. Kudwa, the deputy city manager, retorted that there job was done and they were awaiting consent from the house owners.

“In order for us to go through with the demolition, it requires all owners of the property to sign off,” said LaForest. “I believe we are awaiting just one more signature.”

Kudwa said he agreed one more person was needed however; both property owners have not inhabited their houses for some time.

“We usually provide 60 days for the demolition to commence,” said Kudwa. “This is before we take ownership of the property and go ahead with the project ourselves.”

This dangerous buildings ordinance has been in place since 2006, providing the kind of teeth legislation needs for the commissioners to go ahead with the demolition of private properties.

Kudwa has seen this legislation push ahead multiple demolitions.

As a final point of speaking during the new business section, money for this process was brought up.

Funding for the demolition process was recommended to go towards the Miller Brothers Excavating.

“The bid for $11,489 has been approved,” said Mayor Dana Beaman. “The Miller Brothers Excavating will be assigned the job of demolition.”

What bogs down the process is the determining of what is considered dangerous.

“Have we come to a conclusion if there is a difference between the words ‘dangerous’ and ‘blighted?’” said Bob Craig, one of the city’s commissioners.

When the designated inspector was determining if something should be classified as dangerous, this word “blighted” came up. When it was asked if anyone knew the official definition of the word, it sparked a chuckle as LaForest responded:

“I know I haven’t gained an official definition of the word, I’m not sure if any of us have yet.”

Blighted’s official definition is “The state of result of being blighted or deteriorated; dilapidation; decay” as defined by Dictionary.com

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