CLINTON — An appeal has been made by a Clinton homeowner hoping to avoid future demolition of his residence.

City Attorney Matt Brisch introduced the issue to the Clinton City Council, saying Tuesday night that a demolition order had been placed on the home at 655 Sixth Ave. South after City Housing Inspector Mike Harmon deemed the building dangerous. Brisch said the owner, Ed Schaefer, asked to speak to the council and address why the house should not be demolished.

Schaefer asked the council what was wrong with his house.

“You tell me what is the matter with that house that it should come down. What in the world is the matter with it?” said Schaefer. “There’s nothing the matter with it. That’s all I have to say. It just floors me. I don’t get it.”

Brisch asked Harmon to comment on the inspection findings following an exterior inspection of the residence May 22.

Harmon said he has been working for the city for more than 10 years and knows numerous complaints have been made during that time. He noted the inspection report only included exterior violations because he was never permitted entry to the house.

“We’ve been working on this for a while, trying to get in, trying to make sure it’s safe for Mr. Schaefer and the neighbors. And so we made the report on the outside and we served him with the notice because we decided it’s in the best interests of the neighborhood and the safety of Mr. Schaefer that this house is a dangerous building,” Harmon said.

Harmon showed pictures of the residence depicting a blue tarp over the front steps and pointed out that homemade steps are not attached to the porch. He said access to the exterior of the home is restricted by debris that fills the side porch and yard. Harmon said he did not know if there was a back door to the residence because of the inability to access the rear of the home. Brisch asked Harmon if the entry and exit of the building is unsafe. Harmon replied that it is past unsafe to the point of being dangerous.

Brisch asked if any parts of the building are likely to detach and Harmon said he believes the side porch is sagging and coming undone.

He added the roof is dilapidated and could be ready to fail, if not already leaking.

Harmon said there are holes in the soffit of the home, creating a concern for vermin and he believes the house is unfit for human habitation. He remarked that a review of the sewer billing for the past two years shows the owner was charged the minimum amount, which is evidence the water is shut off or doesn’t work.

He noted a previous report stated that the water pipes leaked and the problem would be worse by now.

Brisch asked if the house could be considered a public nuisance and Harmon advised that it could based on the possibility of collapse of the porch or roof. He added that all the first floor windows are covered with carpet on the exterior, which could restrict the occupant’s exit in an emergency. He noted the garage on the property suffered damage in a fire several years ago, leans toward a neighboring garage and could be ready to fall. Harmon said a hole in the garage roof was covered by a tarp, but warned the tarp has deteriorated as well. He said the property is a nuisance and a hazard.

Harmon showed the council pictures of the residence in 1996. He asserted there are marked differences in the condition of the home since that time. Ward 4 Councilman Rodger Holm asked Harmon what the timeline is for the process of demolition on the home. Harmon replied that the process consists of a letter being sent to the homeowner requesting an inspection after a property receives two complaints. He said Schaefer has refused the city’s inspection requests at least three times. Harmon advised a final date for demolition has not been set because the interior has not been inspected.

Brisch said the city can issue an inspection order, but noted the condition of the exterior exemplifies the home is dangerous and the city must consider the safety of Harmon as he enters such properties. Harmon added it is common sense that if the property looks so poor from the outside, that it could only be worse on the inside because many of the violations are because the building is structurally damaged.

At-Large Councilman Ron Mallicoat posed a question as to what would happen if the fire department would have to respond to a fire at the residence.

“I wouldn’t want any of our firemen going in there,” he said. Harmon agreed with the statement, saying there is no easy access to the building.

Ward 2 Councilman Mike Kearney said it appears from the photos that there is a fair amount of rotting wood on the home. Harmon said it has been several years since any maintenance has been performed on the property and it seems to be deteriorating quicker each year.

Schaefer was given a chance to reply to Harmon’s report on the property. Schaefer said the next door neighbor, Paul Hansen Jr., had been “corroborating” with Harmon for the last eight years and Schaefer knew this because Hansen told him so. He added his neighbor calls the fire department on him every time he burns even a scrap of paper or yard waste. Schaefer said his neighbor wants to get him in trouble because Hansen wants his property.

Brisch asked Schaefer to stay on task and address the issues of the house with the council. Schaefer said there is new lumber on the house and invited anyone to drive by and look at the property to see if it appears ready to collapse. He commented that calling the home a dangerous building is “absolutely farcical” and “worse than a joke.” He called Hansen and Harmon “compatriots” out to get him.

Schaefer went on to say that Hansen’s garage suffered a fire in recent years and stated Hansen wrote letters to the editor indicting himself as the arsonist. He added Hansen later tore boards from his garage.

“He started demolishing my garage because he wasn’t satisfied it didn’t burn down,” Schaefer said.

Brisch reminded Schaefer to address the issue at hand and talk about the building. Schaefer said the garage is structurally sound and not leaning. Mallicoat asked Schaefer if he is willing to allow access to the house in an effort to prove the residence is worthy. Schaefer said yes, but quickly stated the inspectors would be surprised at what they see as he is going to sue Alliant Energy for damage done to the house. He advised he is going to draft a complaint letter to the utility board about the problems he has had with the company. Brisch again asked Schaefer to stay on the issue of the house and Mayor LaMetta Wynn asked if Schaefer would allow the inspectors inside the home. He replied that he would allow entry and then explain all the “messes left by Alliant Energy.”

Brisch advised that following an inspection, a statement of findings would be drafted detailing the violations existing in the home. He told Schaefer to call his office with any questions. Brisch offered Schaefer an additional chance to speak about the condition of the property, in an effort to give him full opportunity to address the council.

“There is nothing the matter with that house,” Schaefer said. “If they see something that’s really screwed up, that’s what Alliant Energy did, with the aid of Paul Hansen Jr. and probably Harmon was in on there.”