Homeowner protests demolition of eyesore property

GREENFIELD — The owner of a burned house that has been vacant for years on the city’s west side promised city officials he would renovate the house to keep it from being torn down.

This week marked Eddie Shelton’s second time comomg before the Greenfield Board of Public Works and Safety to address concerns about the house at 1102 W. Seventh St., which he purchased in 2010 after it was burned in a fire two years before. Shelton had told city officials in 2011 he purchased the house — which had fallen into disrepair after the blaze — with the goal of fixing it up.

The house is the fourth property the city has selected to be knocked down this year as part of it’s demolition program, which targets eyesore properties that have been deemed unsafe and have the potential to lower area home values.

Three houses were on the city’s demolition list earlier this year after property owners were issued warnings about unsafe and unsanitary conditions; Shelton’s property on seventh Street was added after city officials took one of the properties off their list when the owner agreed to make improvements.

Shelton originally said he intended to renovate the house, which wasn’t properly sealed, allowing water to enter the inside, by the end of the 2011.

Last fall, city officials realized the home wasn’t enclosed and still exposed to the outside elements, said city engineer Karla Vincent.

The house has a damaged roof and walls and unsecured doors and windows, according to public records. Neighbors had complained about animals on the property, and tall weeds and grass have been an issue, city planner Joanie Fitzwater wrote in a letter to board of works members.

City officials sent a notice July 11 to Shelton advising him they were initiating legal action to demolish the house, calling it as an unsafe building. The letter ordered him to make repairs or tear down the house within 10 days.

This week, Shelton told city officials he fell behind on renovation projects, but he plans to add a garage to the structure and install new windows and doors. He planned to put the doors and windows in this week, he said.

“I was late getting to this point,” he said. “Everything is ready to go.”

Erikk Knapp, the city’s building inspector, told board of works members the planning and building office planned to reissue a remodel permit to Shelton so the work can be done.

The board has tabled the issue for now to give Shelton the opportunity to work with the building office to make needed improvements.

“If he gets everything up to snuff, I’d much rather have it fixed up and put back on the tax rolls than have it sitting empty,” said Mayor Chuck Fewell.

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Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or squinn@greenfieldreporter.com.