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.