Lengthy hearings could be leading to quicker demolitions

Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE – It soon may take less time to demolish unsafe buildings.

At their last meeting of 2010, City Council members discussed shortening the length of time between initial complaint and demolition.

Councilman Leonard Sabuda brought up the issue after councilors discussed a show cause hearing for a house and garage in the 300 block of Chestnut that originally was brought to their attention in 2009.

After three show cause hearings in 2010 regarding the unsafe property — the last of which took place Nov. 11— the city ordered it demolished. As of the Dec. 20 council meeting, the house and garage still were standing.

Another show cause hearing was set a hearing for next month to discuss why the house should not be torn down.

“Sometimes I feel it would feel better to poke myself in the eye with something sharp than to go through another of these long, drawn-out processes,” Councilman Todd Browning told the council. “But I also feel for the neighbors.”

Councilwoman Sheri Sutherby Fricke said most houses in violation of city ordinances do not take as long to go from initial complaint to demolition.

“This is a unique property that has taken longer than usual,” she said.

Browning agreed with Sabuda, saying reducing the time devoted to such properties would benefit the council and the city’s Engineering Department.

“I think it’s time that we start looking at this,” Browning said. “This seems like a burden on the Engineering Department. It’s an administrative burden for us to bear.”

City Attorney William Look said he would review the legality of shortening the timeline for demolishing homes.