Fire-damaged home declared public nuisance

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

From the outside, the house at 810 W. Fourth looks boarded up and deserted, but not that bad.

From the inside, its a different story -- which is why the McCook Health Board declared it a public nuisance at its noon meeting Monday at the Heritage Senior Center.

The determination of the home and property will now go before the McCook City Council Oct. 6 meeting. Council members will then decide if they want to move ahead and condemn the property or pursue other options.

If the council decides to condemn the property, the city will demolish the house at a cost of $10,000 to $15,000.

Another house on the property, an alley home, is not affected by the health board's determination.

The owner of the property, Christopher Boley, will have five days to appeal the decision.

McCook Police Chief Ike Brown told the board that the city had received numerous complaints about the property from neighbors. The home is uninhabitable since a fire in 2004, with structural damage and debris left in the house, including clothing and food items.

Several letters were sent to Boley notifying him of nuisance concerns, beginning April 21, Brown said. Shortly after, he and McCook building inspector Fred Baugher inspected the property and found numerous violations of city code.

Although from the outside the house looks relatively undamaged, the amount of debris piled up on the inside pose several health and safety issues, he said.

City Attorney Nate Schneider listed the city codes that have been violated by the condition of the house, that included health and safety concerns and depreciation of housing values to neighboring homes.

"The building is in disrepair and little has been done since the fire in 2004," he said.

Christopher Boley attended the Monday meeting and said the house was finally awarded to him in a 2007 divorce settlement. Although he has been unable to clean up the house due to shoulder surgery, Boley said he would like to restore the structure.

So far, he has moved some of the trash in piles and is waiting for a grain truck from a friend to help him dispose of it. Another friend in Wichita, Kan., has also promised to help him in salvaging the home, he said.

"We'd like to see if we can do something with it," Boley said. "We're trying to get it cleaned up."

City Manager Kurt Fritsch said although he empathizes with Boley, the cost of renovating the structure would cost thousands of dollars and would be throwing "good money after bad," especially in light of structural evaluations from the insurance company, McCook Building Inspector and McCook City Fire Department, who put the house was a total loss and beyond repair.

"You'll be putting yourself in a difficult spot," he cautioned. Boley responded that he wanted to repair the house as it has sentimental value to his children.

McCook Health Board member Dr. Richard Klug noted that structural damages to the house, including the floor and ceiling trusses and a new roof, would be an extensive project to assume. Another board member, Mary Beth Eisenmenger, said that mold would be a concern as well, due to water damage in the house.

The house poses numerous health concerns for neighbors, Brown said, including harboring vermin, as well as falling property values.

"(Boley) doesn't have to live by it every day," Brown pointed out.

Members of the McCook Board of Health who attended the meeting were Brown, Fritsch, Mary Beth Eisenmenger and Dr. Richard Klug. Mayor Dennis Berry was absent from the meeting due to illness.

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