The city council voted unanimously in its Nov. 4 meeting to extend the deadline from Nov. 16, 2019 to July 1, 2020, for either serious repairs or demolition of the 65 and 65 1/2 Westwood St. property.
The dilapidated house has been a major topic of discussion at council meetings this year as it violates the property maintenance code.
The council voted in its meeting on Sep. 16 to give the property owner, Marvin Salyer, 60 days to make the fixes.
If Salyer misses the deadline, the proposal authorized city personnel to take “such action as necessary to demolish the property.”
The only progress on the property as of the Nov. 4 meeting was that some of the broken windows had been fixed.
“It’s just hard to get people there,” Salyer said. “I finally got a guy to commit to it, and he said he’d work on it in the course of the winter.”
Councilman Bruce Sharp has been the leading voice to get the property either fixed or demolished since his home is on the same street.
Sharp said he has visited the property and recognizes steps are being made, but there are still broken windows and potentially animals inside.
“You’ve got a cat that stuck it’s head out the window this afternoon,” Sharp said. “You’ve got wild animals running around in there.”
Salyer said he was unaware of the feline and that it was not there when he visited two days prior to the meeting.
Salyer owns 10 properties within the county. According to city records provided to the council, police have been called to his rental properties a total of 89 times since 2015.
The property in question, 65 and 65 1/2 Westwood, has had 22 visits by police in the last four years and has been vacant since 2017.
Sharp read the list of properties and Salyer informed the council that many of the listings are his mother’s properties.
Mayor Adam Stockford advised that the council should not consider such properties, but Sharp felt they were important to look at.
“If you’re a responsible landlord, you would want to know what’s going on with your tenants,” Sharp said.
Salyer informed the council he has spent $12,000 in down payments on the roof, which must be repaired before other parts, and that he’s serious about fixing it up.
Councilman Greg Stuchell reminded the council that taxpayer money would front the cost of the demolition. The city would eventually be reimbursed by having the costs added to Salyer’s taxes.
“I don’t see progress,” Stuchell said. “I hear the same song and dance every time he’s come up here.”
Both Stuchell and Sharp agreed that they don’t want to see the house torn down, but would rather see it repaired.
Stockford said he doesn’t believe the council gave Salyer enough time with the initial deadline. Instead of 60 days, he said six months would have been more reasonable.
“I don’t like taking someone’s property and doing something with it,” Stockford said. “I didn’t run for office to do that.”
Stockford also came to the defense of the individuals living in Salyer’s rental properties, adding the tenants are “working people.”
The members exchanged ideas about what date to make the new deadline and settled on July 1, 2020. William Morrisey proposed the motion to extend the deadline and it passed unanimously.
At one point, Salyer accused Sharp of name-calling on Facebook.
“I didn’t really appreciate you calling me a con-artist on social media,” Salyer said. Sharp replied with confusion and shook his head, suggesting it wasn’t him.
Yet a screenshot showed that Sharp did make the comment on the Facebook page of the Hillsdale Daily News.
Resident Jack McLain also came to Salyer’s defense in public comment. He said he wanted to see how many times police were called to the Beacon Hill apartment complex, a building frequented by the police.
“You can’t compare how many times the police come to one place,” McLain said. “You can’t judge the landlord by that. In that case, Beacon Hill would be out of the city.”
Several residents expressed that Salyer is a hard worker and will fix the house.
“As long as I’ve known Marv, he’s always worked two jobs plus had a business on the side; he’s a worker,” McLain said. “He’s going to do that house.”