Petersburg Pilot -

Homeowner appeals demolish order


Pilot Photo

The Triem property on Wrangell Avenue.

Homeowners of the collapsed structure at 1010 Wrangell Ave. have filed an appeal in Superior Court against the Petersburg Borough Assembly's 30-day order to demolish or repair the home at the owner's expense after borough building officials determined the structure to be a 'dangerous building.'

The building's foundation failed in September 2009. During June 2012, Community Development Director Leo Luczak sent notice to Karen Ellingstad that the structure had been deemed a dangerous building.

Since then, Luczak has requested a plan for how the structure would be repaired but no such document has been provided and several extension applications by Ellingstad have been denied.

The borough assembly held a non-compliance hearing December 2. After hearing testimony from Fred Triem, letters from neighbors in support of borough intervention and reviewing again a report written by Luczak, the assembly voted to issue the 30-day order after deliberating in executive session-a meeting not open to the public.

The order, in part, states, "...the floor of the structure has come into direct contact with the ground (muskeg), and in any case lacks the minimum separation of 18 inches between untreated floor joists and the surface of the ground."

During the non-compliance hearing, no photographs showing the floor in contact with the ground or percentage of decay were produced to the assembly-a fact Triem asserts "...violates the appellants' right to a fair hearing and to due process...the reading by the Borough Mayor of the staff memorandum as the exclusive evidence in support of its order violates the core notions of procedural due process." according to two statement of points in the appeal document.

The homeowners produced an additional 18 points of contention in the appeal document, one of which was whether or not the borough violated the open meetings act by "conducting secret deliberations in executive session after the public hearing was concluded."

Triem filed a similar appeal with the then City of Petersburg regarding property on 1st and Fram Street where he was able to get extensions after litigation in court-a fact he didn't shy away from during the hearing last month.

"The city has engaged me in four separate lawsuits since I came here in 1979 over the building at 1st and Fram," Triem said during the hearing. "That building is still there and I suggest that's either attributed to the wisdom of our legal system or perhaps to the tenacity of the owner. I predict it (the borough) will see the same kind of tenacity on Wrangell Avenue."

The owners also filed for a stay of demolition to prevent the borough from razing the structure.

Karl Hagerman, public works director, put together a list of fees should the court deny the owner's requests.

Disposal fees for the structure and foundation materials are estimated at $9856. Disposal for contents inside the structure is estimated to cost $3840, however Hagerman stated that the owners would hopefully remove the items should the structure be demolished. Hagerman also quoted a cost of $2544 per 8-hour day to accomplish the demolition.


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