When they met Tuesday, Leavenworth city commissioners voted to keep several houses on a demolition list because they were deemed to be unsafe structures. They also took a step toward condemning a piece of private property as part of a bridge project.
A proposal for an ordinance to condemn a portion of the property at 543 Vilas St. came before commissioners Tuesday for first consideration. Commissioners reached a consensus to advance the ordinance for a future vote.
City officials are seeking to acquire part of the property through condemnation, or eminent domain, for a project to construct a new bridge at Limit Street and Second Avenue.
Earlier this month, commissioners adopted a resolution declaring that the use of eminent domain may be necessary for the project. The resolution also authorized a survey and description of the affected land to be prepared. The proposed ordinance is the next step in the process.
Public Works Director Mike McDonald estimated that the tract of land being sought by the city is about 700 square feet. He described it as an edge of a yard.
McDonald said officials will continue to work with the property owners, who were identified as Charles and Carol Hunt, to reach an agreement that would make condemnation unnecessary.
Other property already has been acquired for the project.
Commissioners held a public hearing Tuesday to discuss several houses that had been recommended by city staff for possible demolition because the structures are considered unsafe.
A total of eight properties had been recommended for the commissioners to consider when they scheduled the public hearing last month.
"It is never our desire to demolish structures," Acting City Planner Roger Denton said Tuesday.
He said city officials hope people repair their properties.
Denton said commissioners had two options to consider Tuesday night for each of the properties. One option was removing a property from the demolition list. The other option was leaving a structure on the list and passing a resolution authorizing that it be torn down if repairs were not made within 60 days.
Denton provided an update for each of the eight properties Tuesday, showing commissioners photographs of the structures. He recommended that two of the properties be removed from the list because of repairs that have been made. One of the properties he recommended for removal is a duplex with the addresses of 907 and 909 Halderman St.
"It is no longer an eyesore to the neighborhood," Denton said.
He had the same recommendation for a house at 1909 Montezuma Ave.
"It looks so much improved," Mayor Laura Janas Gasbarre said of the property.
Denton recommended that the remaining properties stay on the list. They are located at 2001 Montezuma Ave., 201 Cheyenne St., 311 Pottawatomie St., 717 Cheyenne St., 718 Dakota St. and 215 S. 12th St. In the case of the property on South 12th Street, city officials only are recommending that a garage be torn down.
Page 2 of 2 - In some of the cases, the property owners have been in contact with city staff and remediation agreements have been prepared. But Denton recommended leaving the six structures on the list, saying they can be removed if substantial progress is made in the next 60 days.
Commissioners heard from several of the owners of properties on the list.
"I know it's an eyesore but we're working on it," Mary Bruno said of a house she co-owns at 201 Cheyenne St.
Redie Lewis, who owns the house at 718 Dakota St., said commissioners need to take into consideration that weather affects property owners who are trying to make repairs.
A resolution finding that the six remaining structures are unsafe or dangerous and should be repaired or removed passed unanimously. Mayor Pro-Tem Mark Preisinger did not attend the meeting but participated by telephone.