Hamburg City Council voted Monday, April 26 to condemn several structures that they declared a nuisance to public health or safety.
City Attorney Paul Keith said the city has the authority to do so under a 1994 ordinance that allows the city to abate properties that constitute such a threat.
The property owners were contacted by letter informing them of the meeting at which their properties would be considered for condemnation and about what would happen at the meeting, Keith said.
Once the city condemns a property, the owner has 30 days to remedy the situation themselves or the city will move in and abate the nuisance and then place a lien on the property to recoup the cost.
Only one property owner showed up, though the representative of another owner was also at the meeting.
The properties in question were 506 N. Morgan St.; 1122 S. Main St.; 1120 S. Main St.; 605 Beloit St.; a parcel on Norman Street that did not have an address; 519 W. Foote St.; 104 S. Main St.; and 706 S. Main St.
Property owner Darren Cason said the 104 S. Main St. property was damaged in a storm last year not long before someone wrecked a vehicle into the front of the building.
Cason told the council he has tried for months to get a contractor to give him an estimate or agree to work on the building, but because of the significant storms the region has seen in the last year and the COVID-19 pandemic, general contractors are very difficult to find at this time.
“I am trying to get the building repaired so I can get the insurance company settlement,” he said. “My plan is to rebuild the building.”
Cason told the council that he was willing to do what was necessary to appease the city so that demolition of the property doesn’t happen until he has a chance to fully repair it.
Council member Derenda Stanely said she would suggest boarding up the broken windows and removing an awning that is fallen.
“I can get the building secured and the eyesore that it is taken care of until I can get a contractor in there,” Cason said.
Keith said the matter wasn’t just about appeasing the city council, and that the council couldn’t make promises that certain repairs would be enough to address the concern.
“It’s about abating the nuisance,” he said. “You can see why it would be a problem for them to make commitments to the nature of work you have not done.”
The other person who spoke against the condemnations was Samuel Walton, who was there representing a property owner.
Several times when he was speaking, Walton asked for clarification about what the specific nuisance on the property was.
When the council asked him how long the property he was concerned about had been vacant, he acknowledged it had been a few years.
Walton disagreed with the city’s assessment, however, that the structure was uninhabitable and adamantly asked several times for the city to give him specific directions on what to repair.
Council members noted that a homemade parking shelter on the property had collapsed — Walton said the recent ice and snow storm caused the structural failure — and suggested that the building be fully secured. When Keith asked if the plumbing worked, Walton said it did but that water service was not on at the house at present.
While the council members pointed out some things on the property that could be done, Stanley said the city’s concern wasn’t just about securing the vacant building.
“We are trying to clean up the neighborhoods in our community,” she said.
Walton responded that the former Hamburg Shirt Factory facility was in the neighborhood and that to his eye it is also a danger, but Keith said that the council had to start somewhere.
All of the condemnation resolutions were adopted without dissent.
In related news, Hamburg Public Works Director Jimmy Hargis told the council that his department had been sending out several cleanup letters and that he had seen several property owners comply and others who had not.