Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

Local News

May 7, 2013

Public hearing extended; building could stand for months

(Continued)

Knoxville —

Diane Cartwright, an agent with Sundance, told the council that if the business is forced to close due to the fire, the town wll lose a group of people who tout Knoxville to others. She added that the business is an asset to Knoxville. 

"We've had no comment from the property owner," Stewart said. He said he shares the concerns expressed and referred to 110 East Robinson as "an ugly cavity." Staff wants to respond quickly, but the City has no right to confiscate the property and tear it down without due process. 

At first, the hearing's extension may have been through the next regular council meeting. Councilor Carolyn Formanek suggested having a special meeting on Thursday, as opposed to waiting two more weeks. Stuyvesant said that would be fine, as long as Vincent's attorney was notified. 

"The only person not waiting is the owner," Formanek said. 

"(Vincent has) had 14 months," Councilor Tim Pitt said. "Fourteen days is plenty. I would close the hearing." 

"She already had 14 days," Stuyvesant added. "I've dealt with this building before." 

If the City has to wait for the judicial process for action to be taken, it could take more months to have the building removed. Stuyvesant said he understands the situation, the urgency the City and Sundance feel to remove the blight, but it is still somebody's property. 

"It was a public hazard a year and a half ago," Tim VerMeer, another Sundance agent, said. 

Even if the City takes over ownership of the property, it is possible there are liens against it, for which the City would become liable, Stuyvesant added. According to a letter to the City, Vincent has a demolition bid of $60,000, which could double if there is asbestos in the building. The City has not budgeted for any such expenses. 

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