The East Ridge Housing Commission is giving the owner of a dilapidated house on East End Avenue 30 days in which to take action to improve the property or the city will have it razed.
During its first ever case, the housing commission met Monday evening at City Hall and heard from the city’s codes officials and the owner of the house, Leroy Wanzell.
Kenny Custer, the city’s Director of Community Services and the chief building official for the city, told the commission that the house first became an issue in 2012 when homeless people were found squatting in the house, which had no power or other utilities. In July 2015, the city ordered the owner to either clean up the property or the city would board it up. In October of 2015, having no response from Wanzell, the city boarded the house up and put a lean on the property for more than $2,000.
Custer told the commission that Wanzell received a building permit to refurbish the house in August of 2015. However, no work was performed and the building permit expired after 180 days.
In March of 2016, Custer said the city served notice to Wanzell that the building would be razed due to neglect. Wanzell appealed the action to the Housing Commission.
The status of the structure as being a residence is further complicated by it being surrounded by property zoned commercial and that it is situated in an area that floods. As it has been unoccupied for more than six months, the house lost its legal non-conforming status as R-1 under the city’s ordinances.
It was explained to Wanzell that he must first get an elevation survey performed to establish if the house would have to be raised to meet FEMA guidelines.
In addition, the house, if renovated, would then be zoned commercial and Wanzell would not be able to rent it or sell it as a residential property.
Wanzell, who does not live in the city, said that he had been in bad health in recent years and unable to take action on rehabilitating the house. He presented a list of improvements that he intends to make that amounts to about $20,000. He agreed to have an elevation study done within 30 days and move forward with rehabbing the structure for commercial use.
Eddie Phillips, Chairman of the Housing Commission, told Wanzell that he “did not dodge another bullet.” If Wanzell takes no action within 30 days there will be a show-cause hearing for having the structure demolished.
The East Ridge Housing Commission is scheduled to meet again on Dec. 11.