Council sets condemnation deadline on 2 structures
The Tonganoxie City Council voted Monday to give the owners of two structures 90 days to address issues identified at their sites or face having the city tear them down at the owners’ expense.
The decisions came after two different show-cause hearings on the buildings. City codes inspector Mark Lee said both buildings, the old creamery at 1000 E. First St. and a storefront with no legal address on State Avenue immediately south of First State Bank and Trust, had been cited numerous times through the years for nuisance violations.
In March, letters were sent to the owners of both structures informing them a show-cause hearing would be scheduled for the buildings’ possible condemnations if the identified issues weren’t addressed in 45 days, unless the owners asked the council for an extension within 10 days.
On Monday, Pete Depetre, the owner of the old creamery, attended the hearing on his building, voicing the same concerns he expressed in an interview with The Mirror two weeks ago.
Depetre said the city was selectively enforcing its nuisance ordinances and that there were other buildings in the city in worse shape than the old creamery.
Part of the building needed to be razed, but other sections were of value, Depetre said. If the city left him alone, he said he would take care of the building. He also complained of Lee and other city officials examining his private property and of others trespassing on the property.
In response, Councilman Dennis Bixby said Depetre’s property was an “attractive nuisance” that drew teens and others to the site. Depetre had ample time to address the issues the city identified, he said.
Mayor Jason Ward said the history Depetre raised was not the current concern.
“As far as the city is concerned, it doesn’t matter how long things are going on,” he said. “A violation is a violation. If the city doesn’t enforce their rules, it puts us in a liability.”
At the council’s May 9 meeting, a representative of the Wanda Bjorgaard family, which owns the storefront south on State Avenue, requested an extension, saying more time was needed to remove some of the stored materials from the site before the structure could be taken down. The council turned down the request, noting the owner’s poor history of compliance with city deadlines.
No one from the family was at Monday’s hearing.
The owners of both buildings can seek an injunction against the city’s action in Leavenworth County District Court.
In other action Monday, the council:
• Agreed the city should take over maintenance of VFW Park, including its mowing, and agreed to make the commitment in writing. Last month, Larry Meadows of the VFW requested the council take that action, citing a commitment the city made to maintain the property when the VFW developed the park.
• Approved applications for fireworks stands for Patrick O’Hare, Susan Garrett of Project Graduation, Anthony Miller of Sacred Heart Church and J’s Fireworks.
• Approved Ward’s appointment of Catherine Patrick to the planning commission.