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Blighted sites will be razed

June 26, 2012
Meg Alexander - Staff Writer , Fairmont Sentinel

FAIRMONT - Two more blighted properties are coming down in Fairmont, thanks to cooperation between private parties and city government.

On Monday, the council authorized reimbursing property owners up to $18,400 for the costs of demolishing two blighted houses. The money will come from funds the council set aside specifically for projects of this nature. Of $60,000, the council had $45,000 to work with, prior to approving the requests Monday.

"We've helped tear down and remove about six properties so far," said city administrator Mike Humpal.

Requests for assistance with demolitions came from two separate parties. Lon Luhmann asked for help removing a blighted house he purchased at 515 N. Prairie Ave. He paid $20,000 for the property; fixed up a garage on the site: paid $1,600 to move electrical and gas from the lot; and then completed an environmental survey for $1,900.

On top of these expenses, the estimated cost of demolishing the blighted house is $9,400. (Unfortunately for Luhmann, once the site is cleaned up, he still has to put up with another vacant blighted property on the other side of his home. The owner in this case is an absentee landlord.)

Martin County Mechanical is attempting to buy property at 318 N. Main St., with the intention of cleaning up the site and expanding its parking lot.

"This property has been a terrible eyesore that reflects negatively on their business," Humpal explained in a memo to the council. "Each year, the situation worsens."

The property cost $10,000, with legal fees of $850, and $750 for an asbestos survey. The demo is expected to cost $9,000.

"It's costly for individuals," Humpal said. "... Just to bid on property, you have to have an environmental survey."

Councilman Wes Clerc was concerned about setting a precedent by assisting residents with demolition costs. He worried also about the property owner who comes to the city after all the funds have been spent.

"I like what we're doing," he said, "but I don't want to have open season."

Humpal agreed, but he also pointed out the city only has so much money set aside for \demolishing blighted properties, and when it's gone, it's gone. He noted the city is ultimately saving money by partnering and splitting the cleanup costs with residents.

Mayor Randy Quiring praised the two parties for coming forward with so much of their own funds for cleaning up property that adversely impacts not only them but the city as a whole.

"This really helps out our community," he said.



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