Crown Point will demolish fire-damaged home
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent July 31, 2013 12:22PM
This home at 9501 Johnson St. in Crown Point will be torn down by the city after attempts to hold a property owner accountable were unsuccessful. | Supplied photo
Updated: September 3, 2013 6:59AM
CROWN POINT — Demolition can begin immediately on a burned-out home at 9501 Johnson St. that has been sitting vacant since the February 2012 fire that damaged it.
Members of the Board of Public Works and Safety on Wednesday approved the emergency demolition of the building after it was determined the structure poses a health and safety risk to the community and after attempts by the city to come to agreement with a property owner have gone nowhere.
Attorney David Nicholls said dealing with the property has been difficult because the owner of the home died a couple of months after it burned and an estate has not taken over the property. No guardianship has been established for several minor heirs that may have rights to the property, either.
In the meantime, Nicholls said, the property has remained an unattended eyesore. The home stinks, poses a safety risk to anyone who may venture onto the property and is diminishing the property value of the other homes in the neatly kept cul-de-sac.
“I can’t imagine living next door or near this home for over a year with no action being taken,” Nicholls said.
Neighbor Dan Kacmar was in his front yard Wednesday. His house sits directly next door to the vacant home. The burned-out living room is just about 20 feet from his own home. He said the house has been an eyesore and problem since it burned and was vacated.
“It should have been fixed or torn down after the fire. It’s a shame,” Kacmar said.
He is glad the home will finally be coming down. Children play on the trampoline in the backyard. The bottom of the above-ground swimming pool was finally cut out after attempts to keep it free of water were unsuccessful. The house has been broken into.
“It’s lowering the value of everything in the neighborhood,” Kacmar said.
The Board of Works hired Ziese & Sons Excavating of Crown Point to do the work for $24,475. Nicholls said while the city will put a lien on the property in an attempt to recoup the cost, it is likely they will never see the money.
Mayor David Uran said the city needs to move forward with the demolition because it has received no good-faith effort in the last 18 months to resolve the ownership issues and get the property taken care of. While the city ultimately may have to foot the bill, it does have monies set aside specifically for dealing with unsafe structures.
He said each of the homes in the neighborhood could have their property values impacted individually by as much as it is costing to tear down the structure.
“We have to protect their values,” Uran said.
Member Michael Conquest agreed.
“I think $24,000 to $25,000 is cheap compared to the slippery slope if we decide to do nothing,” Conquest said.