Scottville considers condemning two houses.

July 21, 2015
127 W. Broadway

127 W. Broadway

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

SCOTTVILLE — The City of Scottville is taking more steps to reduce the blight in town by considering taking steps to condemn to blighted homes. The city has identified the houses at 206 N. Columbia Street and 127 W. Broadway Avenue as being in need of condemnation. They are listed as the top 2 most blighted houses in town and the owners have done little to respond to the city’s request to repair the homes.

Condemning a building is not a simple or inexpensive task, City Attorney Tracy Thompson told the commission during its regular meeting Monday. First, the property must be in violation of city code and the property owners are informed informally by the city manager, which happened a few years ago with both properties. If the owners do not comply, they are then contacted by the city attorney, which has also happened. The city commission must then decide if it wants to take further action by suing the property owners in circuit court.

“Generally folks aren’t going to put up a fight if the city decides to sue them,” Thompson said. “There will then be a judgement and the owner has a short window to comply. Then comes the expensive part.”

The property owner will be required, at that point, to tear down the property and either replace the structure or restore the land. If that doesn’t happen, the city eventually can take possession of the property but will then be responsible for it.

206 N. Columbia Street.

206 N. Columbia Street.

An alternative to demolishing the building is to burn it down. Local fire departments often burn down blighted homes as practice sessions. However, Scottville Fire Chief Dale Larr said he would not recommend burning down either house. “I’m not as worried about the nearby structures as I am the toxic fumes from smoke being so close to the other houses,” Larr told the commission.

The commission was also informed about another potential property issue. The house at 205 N. Thomas Street was the home of Barbara White, who passed away last winter. No one lives at the house and ownership is still listed in White’s name. According to City Manager Amy Williams, family members are not interested in owning the property. There is still a mortgage on the property but the bank has indicated it is not interested in foreclosing on it because the value isn’t worth taking over. Williams said the concern is the amount of untreated water building up in the pool and the long grass in the backyard. The city’s ordinance allows it to mow lawns that are in violation. However, this particular property is fenced in.

City Attorney Thompson told commissioners that any interference by the city on the property opens it up to be responsible for the property and that the commissioners should sit back and observe for now.

He said swimming pools often cause issues with foreclosures because they have a higher level of liability.

If the property taxes are not paid in three years, the city will then have the option to take over the property and either sell it or condemn it, Thompson said.

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