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Angie, Other/Just Looking in 67203

can the city of wichita legally tear down a house built in 1890 due to violating city code?

Asked by Angie, 67203 Sun Aug 8, 2010

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Angie,
Most likely they can. I've seen it happen in my city, here in central Florida. However, usually the tearing down of the house is the end of a very long and structured process, during which the owner has numerous opportunities to prevent this from happening.

I spent nine years as a volunteer on my city's Code Enforcement Board. During that time, we had cases like the one you describe. Usually, a case begins with someone, perhaps a neighbor, bringing apparent code violations to the attention of the city. First, the Code Enforcement official speaks directly with the homeowner to point out the violations and explain what can be done to resolve them.

As Joe said, often public safety is at issue. I have seen many instances where an empty, run-down house becomes an "attractive nuisance" that draws local children and teenagers to it like a magnet. Years can go by and the condition of the house deteriorates further. Especially dangerous are rotten or termite-riddled porches that someone can fall through. If the windows and doors are not properly secured, the interior, especially floors and staircases, can present the same hazards. Some of the worst properties have roofs that may cave in as well. There can also be health hazards present, such as birds roosting in the house, and leaving their droppings everywhere. I've seen all of these things.

If the Code Enforcement official and the property owner cannot resolve the code issues, the case may pass next to the local Code Enforcement Board for a hearing. The Board is a citizen group, composed of volunteers.

Appearing before the Board offers an opportunity for the city official and the homeowner to each present their case. The Board normally wants to see that the homeowner is making some attempts to correct the violation, such as repairs, or at the very least, securing the property by boarding up broken windows or putting locks on exterior doors. Often there are extenuating circumstances, such as financial constraints that are hindering the homeowner. The Board may continue the case for one or more months to allow the homeowner time to correct the violations. This step can be repeated several times.

However, if a long time period passes (It could be years.) without the case being resolved, the city may move to condemn the house and tear it down. If the house may have historic value, the city will research that possibility, sometimes through a Historic Preservation Board, before demolition is considered. Nevertheless, even a historic house may be too seriously deteriorated to be saved.

Obviously, demolition is a last resort, when all other alternatives fail. Where I live, the city pays for the demolition, and the property owner is then left with a vacant piece of land. The parcel could be more valuable at that point than it was with the house on it, since anyone contemplating buying it does not have the cost of removing the structure.

I hope this information helps.

Warm regards,
Maggie Hawk, REALTOR
(386) 314-1149
Watson Realty Corp.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 8, 2010
Unfortunately yes they can. Its the law of eminent domain, and if the city deems that they can better utilize the property for another use or something to this effect then they can certainly do so. Now I dont have the specifics about the scenario you are mentioning but it certainly appears that they can. I would like to know more about this, it sounds rather curious.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 8, 2010
You may want to contact your Historical Preservation Society to get some answers. Just because a home was built in 1890 doesn't mean that it would qualify for preservation status. In PA you have to apply for that status. If you are in Wichita County you can go to this link and maybe get some answers: http://www.wichita-heritage.org/ Good Luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 8, 2010
What is the violation? apparently it is recent as the house would not have existed with the violation since 1890. If the violation was not corrected, or is causing a dangerous condition probably yes. Without all the facts this question is hard to answer. However, I am leaning towards a Yes answer. Please visit http://www.wichita.gov/CityOffices/OCI/building_inspection.htm this site may answer your question.
Web Reference: http://www.clovelake.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 8, 2010
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