Blight Beat: City of Ypsilanti to hold demolition hearing for burned 'hoarder house'
Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com
Ypsilanti’s building officials are asking city council to approve the demolition of an abandoned south side "hoarder house" that has twice been set on fire in the past four years.
Ypsilanti Fire Chief Jon Ichesco said the building likely is beyond repair and he believes city council should approve the building’s demolition at its Tuesday, Nov. 20 meeting.
The home was abandoned by the homeowner, a woman who moved in with her daughter due to health problems in 2005, Ichesco said.
The city is beginning to address blighted homes through several measures, including a process that targets structures that fit the definition of a dangerous building per state law and city ordinance.
Once a home is identified as dangerous, Ichesco sets a hearing with a city-appointed dangerous buildings officer. The officer tries to work out a solution to address the situation either by working with the owner to bring the home up to code or through demolition.
If the building’s owner fails to appear at the hearing or the two sides fail to reach a consent agreement, the issue goes to city council, which can approve staff moving forward with a building's demolition. If there is resistance to that order from the property owner, the city can bring the issue before a Washtenaw County Circuit Court judge.
City council will consider the case at its regular Tuesday meeting.
The home, at 875 Jefferson St., has been on the city’s radar since 2005 when police notified Ichesco that there were hoarder-like conditions inside. Ichesco said inspectors had to crawl across piles of junk to move around in the house and it was immediately condemned.
“It was classic hoarding,” Ichesco said.
The house also quickly became “an attractive nuisance” to neighborhood kids” and caught on fire when a car parked next to the house was set on fire in 2008.
In July 2012, someone set fire to the house’s backside which partially burned it down. The house is now full of charred junk, Ichesco said.
Much of the building’s exterior is burnt and siding is missing. The house is structurally unsound and officials believe it's on the verge of collapse from the fire damage.
“Anything is repairable but this is prohibitive of cost,” Ichesco said. “There is no insurance. The only solution is to knock it down.”
Kids continue to break into the house and city officials are regularly resealing it. The home’s owner indicated to the city early this year that she would figure out how to take care of the structure, but has since not responded to city officials.
Bringing the house to the point of demolition has taken so long because some work has occasionally been performed on the house, Ichesco said. Ypsilanti ordinance allows property owners 18 months to make repairs after they are notified of code violations. If a resident makes even minor repairs, that 18 months resets.
Ichesco said the building could likely be down within 60 days if city council approves the plan. A lien would be placed on the property if the city paid for the demolition.
Tom Perkins is a freelance reporter for AnnArbor.com.