Local News

Home owners appeal 30-day demolition order

The owners of a house on Wrangell Avenue in Petersburg are hoping a superior court will throw out last month’s order by Petersburg’s borough assembly to require repair or demolition of the aging building.

Karen Ellingstad and Fred Triem on Thursday, January 2 filed an administrative appeal of the assembly’s decision that their house at 1011 Wrangell Avenue is a dangerous structure and needed to be fixed or demolished within 30 days.

The assembly made their decision at a December 2nd meeting following testimony from Triem and a closed-door executive session on the issue. In a written report, borough building official Leo Luczak wrote that the foundation of the structure had failed in 2009 and as a result had multiple violations of building code. Luczak deemed the home a dangerous building and thought the unoccupied house is uninhabitable and presents a hazard to the public and surrounding properties.

Luczak sent a letter to the home owners this summer notifying them he considered the building dangerous and requiring changes. Neighboring property owners also have written to the borough seeking to have the structure razed.

Triem and Ellingstad argue that the borough did not correctly issue a final order with a 30 day appeal period and they challenge the borough’s procedure for setting a hearing date or giving the home owners information for the hearing. The couple argue their due process was violated at the non-compliance hearing held by the assembly. Among their appeal points, Triem and Ellingstad are questioning whether the borough provided any evidence that the structure is rotten or dangerous. The pair also question whether the assembly violated the state’s open meetings act by conducting deliberations behind closed doors.

In an order dated December 5th, the borough assembly required the house be fixed or demolished within 30 days or the borough would remove it. In an email Thursday, Luczak wrote that he planned to consult with the borough attorney about the matter before determining the next step. Triem wants more time to fix the home.

It’s not the first time the two sides have argued in court over the upkeep of a local building. The city of Petersburg was in and out of court with the property owners for more than a decade over the condition of an old building on the corner of First and Fram Streets. That building was eventually moved out of the street right of way, placed on a permanent foundation and refurbished.

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