City council condemns collapsing cottage
BELLA VISTA — The City Council condemned the structure at 9276 Suits- Us Drive recently.
“There’s a portion of that structure, I’m surprised it’s able to hold up any weight with as damaged as it is,” said Chris Suneson, Community Development Services director. “It’s going to fall down, that’s all I can tell you. Gravity is doing its work.”
City staff wrote in a report it sought condemnation of the structure in 2015, but the City Council tabled it and asked the Community Development Services Department work with property owner Robert Jackson, who expressed an interest in salvaging and restoring as much of the fire-damaged structure as possible.
In September 2015, according to the report, Jackson was issued a demolition permit, which was closed May 2016 after reaching its time limit. Jackson was issued a miscellaneous structural framing permit July 2016, according to the report, and inspectors checked progress August 2016 and found improper footings and minimal construction debris removed. A later inspection found the permitted work was finished, according to the report.
Inspectors visited in December to check on the project’s progress, according to the report. No progress was noted. Another check was made in late May, and no progress was observed, prompting the department to seek condemnation.
The damage caused by a structure fire more than two decades ago may be irreparable, according to the report, and the structure presents a hazard to public safety.
Debris from the demolished section is strewn about the property, he said, and it looks like someone is simply piling up building material at the site.
“There’s been some progress,” Suneson said, “but it’s been very limited, and when it’s all said and done, it’s been too long.”
Jackson said he got the property for back taxes in 2014. The house, he said, had essentially been used as a dump.
“I’ve taken well over 40 truck and trailer loads of trash,” he said. “I’ve hauled away refrigerators, rain boots, all kinds of trash.”
Jackson said he was making progress on the permitted work and, when he received notice the property was going to be considered for condemnation again, it came as a surprise.
He had difficulty getting the footing in place, he said, in part because of heavy spring rain.
He said he’s frustrated because his efforts and expenses have yielded no results.
Jackson has started discussions with the Fire Department to use the house for training exercises and a controlled burn, he said, though he’s uncertain if this will be done.
Fire Chief Steve Sims confirmed this process has started.