Council discusses abandoned property

Whitney Sager

The fate of an abandoned home along Third Street in Nevada was discussed during the Nov. 25 City Council meeting.

The home at 1419 Third St. has not had water service since it was turned off in 2008 after neighbors reported water running out of the home. Several windows are broken and a shed was torn down and left sitting in a pile in the yard. In addition to the structural issues, several nearby property owners and neighbors have contacted the city to complain about the condition of the home and property. All of this has prompted the property to be declared an abandoned, dilapidated and/or unsafe building as defined by the city of Nevada’s ordinances.

Building and Zoning Administrator Shawn Cole has been in contact through email with the property owner, Julia Stephens of State Center, since May 2012. During that time, Cole has notified Stephens numerous times that the property needs to be fixed as soon as possible. He also sent a letter at the beginning of May 2012 detailing the issues that needed to be fixed on the property. In response to the emails, Stephens would often write that she intended to address the issues. However, the only things that got done were mowing the lawn and tearing down a shed on the property, only to leave it laying in a pile.

When Stephens was asked by the council during the meeting why she had not done anything to the property after being told it needed repaired, Stephens replied, “I was thinking about how much money I wanted to put into the property when I was told to fix the windows.”

Stephens also asked the council what kind of timeline she had to make a decision on what to do with the property.

City Attorney Erin Clanton said a “reasonable” amount of time to address the property’s issues had “well been surpassed” at this point, since Stephens has known about the need to fix the property for the past 18 months.

Clanton said the city has two options: 1. take the matter through district court to have the property declared a nuisance, which would force Stephens to have the structure demolished; or 2. do the demolition themselves and assess the costs against the property owner (Stephens). Clanton said it could take 90-120 days before a court hearing is scheduled.

Once the city files a petition through the district court, Stephens cannot be eligible for the city’s cost-share program that pays up to 50 percent of the cost of repairs on a city property. Also, if she chooses to do the demolition herself, she will have to pay the entire cost after the petition is filed.

The council decided to give Stephens until Dec. 9 to present a committment from a contractor and proof of an ability to pay to either tear down the home or make repairs so it is no longer considered abandoned and a nuisance. If a committment from a contractor is not presented, the city will move forward to have the property declared a nuisance through the district court.