City working to clean up site of fire

The home at 212 St. Mary’s Parkway was destroyed by in a fire on April 28. The City of Manistee is now close to being able to legally demolish the remains.

MANISTEE — Nearly three months after the house at 212 Saint Mary’s Parkway was lost to a fire, the City of Manistee is close to legally demolishing the remains.

On Tuesday, the Manistee County 85th District Court presiding judge Brent Danielson ordered Aldea, Inc., the owner of the property, to demolish the structure within 15 days and pay $350 in court costs and fines. If the company does not comply, the city will have the authority to demolish the building.

“The city first provided notice of violation of the zoning ordinance to the owner of the property, directing them to correct the hazard that existed,” said city attorney George Saylor. “When they didn’t take any action, a civil infraction citation was issued against the owner of the property. That’s what we were in court for this week.”

The home was destroyed on April 28 after children playing with lighters started a fire.

The court found the company in violation of city zoning ordinances and ordered that the structure be demolished and the property be cleaned up by July 31. According to the court order, the house is unsafe and dangerous to life, health and property and so damaged that collapse is possible.

The owner’s representatives are in Georgia, and Manistee officials don’t expect them to respond to the court order.

“If they don’t, after the 15 days passes, the city will go back into court and ask the judge for an order authorizing the city to demolish the building,” Saylor said. “Right now, we’re in a holding period for that 15 days to pass.

“If in fact the city has to take action to demolish the structure, all of the costs associated with that would constitute a lien against the property and ultimately be added to the tax rolls.”

The property can’t be transferred without the lien being paid off.

“The city has a secured position to recover those costs before the property could be sold to somebody free and clear of the lien,” Saylor explained.

In the three months since the fire, city building inspector Mark Niesen has notified the owners twice of the situation.

“They appeared that they were going to do something,” Niesen said of a discussion after first contact with Aldea representatives.

After another letter and no compliance, city officials appeared in court on Tuesday. No representatives from Aldea were present.

“We’re following the procedures,” Niesen said. “It sometimes is a little more lengthy than we want it to be but we have to do everything legal.”

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Posted by Eric Sagonowsky

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