CLINTON — The Clinton City Council Committee of the Whole has forwarded a proposal to stay a demolition order for 707 S. Second St., until debris is cleaned up from a demolished building at 709 S. Second St.

The issue stems from demolition occurring in February at a property owned by the non-profit Gateway Area Foundation located at 709 S. Second St.

Dale Bott Trucking, Inc., was hired to demolish the building. Neighboring property owners George Christoff and Janice Wells, owners of River City Motors, Inc. and the property at 707 S. Second St., claimed their buildings were damaged during the demolition process.

According to a memorandum from City Administrator Gary Boden to the city council, the two buildings were connected by a common wall prior to demolition. Demolition of 709 S. Second St. was halted when it was determined that the demolition was harming the building at 707 S. Second St.

Boden noted that “legal wrangling over the liability for the damage has occurred between the River City people, Gateway, the demolition contractor and their respective insurance agents.” City Attorney Matt Brisch and Boden attempted to mediate the impasse, but now have determined the city is out of options and feel a formal declaration requiring demolition might inspire responsiveness.

City Building Inspector Mike Harmon addressed the council earlier this week and said he inspected the two buildings on Aug. 30. He said the building at 709 S. Second St. was partially demolished and damage to 707 S. Second St. resulted from that demolition. He advised the council that the northeast and south walls of the River Cities building are “severely cracked” and “very unstable.” Harmon said it appears that the south wall was a “party” wall and when pulled on during the demolition, was broken in two. He that a steel rod connects the north wall of 709 to the south wall of 707. Harmon stated he was unsure of what subsequent damage could occur to the River Cities building if further demolition or debris removal takes place, but said more damage or collapse is likely.

“I don’t think you can do anything to 707 until 709 is out of there,” Harmon said.

Chris Farwell, local attorney representing Christoff and Wells, told the council the owners of River Cities Motors were appealing the demolition order because they want to determine whether they can renovate the property or if it will have to be demolished. He said the property owners cannot evaluate the viability of the property until the remnants of the GAF building are removed. Farwell stated that further demolition and debris removal could result in more damage to the River Cities building, making it senseless to invest in repairs if the building will not be worthwhile. He added that despite repeated attempts to urge the GAF to facilitate the removal of the debris, cleanup has not been accomplished. Farwell warned that Christoff and Wells have not been able to utilize their property for their business, and therefore are losing revenue.

“They are paralyzed from doing anything,” he said.

Farwell said demoliton of the wall would create an eight-foot-by-eight-foot gap and expose a doorway in the south wall at 701 S. Second St. and create a situation in which repairs would be needed, resulting in expenses the owners cannot afford.

Boden suggested the council stay the demolition order for 707 S. Second St. and give the owners 28 days after the debris is substantially removed to determine if the building can be repaired or must be demolished. A motion to place the issue on the next council meeting agenda for action was approved.

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