This house is hazardous, council says; City working through court to raze 5 other houses, 1 garage

Published 8:27 am Friday, August 18, 2017

By Michael Stoll

The Austin City Council unanimously approved a resolution last week declaring the residence at 911 12th Ave. NE as “hazardous.”

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Councilwoman Judy Enright said she received several complaints from neighbors about the residence.

“The house is not owner-occupied and was vacant when we first noted it in 2015,” said Planning and Zoning Administrator Holly Wallace.

While going through the process to get the structure declared hazardous, Wallace said they had to firm up the resolution. She sent zoning inspector Tim Donovan to the property to do an inspection on Sept. 16, 2016. Donovan encountered relatives of the owner who were doing work on the structure.

“They invited me inside the property to look at the condition so they could know what they had to fix,” Donovan said. “It was in pretty tough shape.”

Donovan cited the residence for numerous code violations, which included the following:

•Broken windows and screens in need of repair or replacing

•Missing siding on north end

•Penetration at windows/soffits/siding in need of sealing

•Missing garage doors

•Heating system that needed to be repaired or replaced

•Water heater that needed to be repaired or replaced

•Roof exhaust stack that needed to be replaced

•Working sink that needed to be installed

•Working tub/shower that needed to be provided

•Working toilet that needed to be provided

•Hiring of a plumbing contractor to verify all piping and venting is to Minnesota Plumbing Code

•Electrical service panel in need of replacement

•Need verification that all electrical outlets are operational and inspected by State Inspector

•Need installation of smoke detectors to code

•Need installation of CO2 detectors to code

•Missing treads at basement stair location

•Need installation of handrail at basement stair location

After the inspection was done, the relatives quit working on the residence.

“Our guess is that the repairs would cost more than what the property was worth,” Wallace said.

With approval of the resolution on Aug. 7, the city must forward it to the city attorneys, who must then check to see if the property has any outstanding mortgages.

“By law we have to give notice to all of the interested parties,” Wallace said.

The attorneys will then bring the resolution to court. The property owner and any interested parties have time to respond. If they do not, a judge will then review the resolution to see if the planning and zoning administration has established a factual basis for an order in their favor. Once the order is given, the city must do an asbestos abatement before it can be torn down.

This year, the city has five residences and one garage that are in the process of getting court approval to be torn down.

A notice hangs from the front door of a house at 911 12th Avenue NE that the City Council recently voted to declare as hazardous. Eric Johnson/