Attorneys in Juneau last week argued over the fate of a house that’s fallen off it’s foundation on Wrangell Avenue in Petersburg. The Petersburg borough wants the home demolished while the owners of the structure are hoping to fix it up.
The foundation of the home at 1011 Wrangell Avenue failed in 2009. The borough assembly back in December ordered the owners Karen Ellingstad and Fred Triem to fix the structure or demolish it within 30 days. Triem asked the assembly to give him until this Labor Day to fix it. However, assembly members voted to give him only a month and ordered the demolition at the end of that time. Triem, an attorney, appealed that decision and it’s been in court ever since.
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On Friday, attorneys made oral arguments in the case before superior court Judge Philip Pallenberg. The attorneys for the two sides and the judge were all in Juneau but the hearing was teleconferenced to the Petersburg courthouse.

Triem called the December borough hearing on the matter a trial by ambush and said he was not given a memo from the borough building official or letters from neighbors before the December hearing. “That’s the inherent unfairness is that both the building inspector’s memo and the letters were not provided to me in advance, they were simply read out loud, one by the city manager and the other by the city clerk. And they still didn’t give me copies until I wrote them and asked for them.”

Meanwhile the borough’s attorney Jim Brennan noted the home owners are not contesting the borough’s assertion that the home is dangerous. “Instead they rely on procedural issues alone. Their entire argument is limited to objections to the assembly’s procedures regarding notice of opportunity to be heard which objections the owners never raised during the administrative process.”

It’s not the first time the municipal government and the attorney have wound up in court over the foundation of a building Triem owns. The city and Triem battled for years over the fate of an old building that’s now on a more permanent foundation at the corner of First and Fram streets.

The judge said he’d try to make a ruling in this case as fast as he could.