Hillsdale city council meets to discuss their goals for 2021. COURTESY | PENNY SWAN
Hillsdale city council meets to discuss their goals for 2021. COURTESY | PENNY SWAN

The Hillsdale City Council voted to demolish two buildings located at 65 and 66 Westwood St.

In a split decision of 7 – 2 on Sept. 20, the council approved a bid from Parrish Exca­vating to begin the demo­li­tions no later than Sept. 27.

The decision comes after the City Council voted in 2019 to declare the Westwood Street prop­erties a public nui­sance which trig­gered the demo­lition process. In July, the city approved an envi­ron­mental survey and received two bids from con­tractors to demolish the properties.

Coun­cilman Bruce Sharp said the council’s action was sig­nif­icant in keeping land­lords accountable.

“It’s time we send these land­lords a clear message: if you do not become respon­sible for these prop­erties, there will be con­se­quences for it,” Sharp said. 

Zoning Admin­is­trator Alan Beeker said Salyer had been notified of the city’s inten­tions to demolish the prop­erties twice since sending out the bid to contractors.

Mayor Adam Stockford said he was worried about the costs to taxpayers.

“I wish people would take care of their prop­erties instead of expecting neighbors to do it for them,” Stockford said. “I cannot support a res­o­lution to spend tax money to tear down someone else’s property.”

Coun­cilman Greg Stuchell said the city council was taking action to protect people’s property rights.

“The action we are taking here is pro­tecting other people’s property value,” Stuchell said. “We have been putting this off for three years in which we could’ve been bringing in busi­nesses or new residents.”

City Attorney Thomas Thompson said the city has several legal options to cover the costs of demo­lition if a neg­ligent owner does not bring the property into com­pliance with the ordi­nance. In that case, the city charges a special assessment against the owner. This allows the city to sue the owner in civil court if the owner fails to pay their taxes for the property that year.

When the council voted on the motion, Coun­cilors Mor­risey, Stuchell, Vear, Pratt, Sharp, Zeiser, and Socha voted in favor, while Mayor Stockford and Coun­cilman Ray Briner voted against it. 

The council also dis­cussed leaf col­lection and approved the annual prop­erties on accel­erated forfeiture.

Public Ser­vices Director Jake Hammel said public leaf col­lection will begin around Oct. 20. 

The council also approved a res­o­lution requesting the county accel­erate the for­feiture process for aban­doned buildings. The for­feiture process occurs when the city has con­firmed that a property’s owners are neg­ligent in its upkeep and failed to pay taxes on it. This process has occurred every year since 1999, and it has allowed the city to clear the for­feiture process a year earlier.

The council declared the week of Oct. 1 — Oct. 9, 2021, “Public Power Week” to cel­e­brate the Board of Public Util­ities’ year-round service.