West Orange in process of clearing out substandard houses
Though it’s a little late for a Spring cleaning the city of West Orange is making plans to spruce things up.The West Orange City Council approved a resolution for property owners to either repair, remove or demolish several structures in the city that were declared as either substandard and hazardous along with possible remedies for the structures. The council first held a public hearing before their regular meeting.
Alan Sanders, special counsel for the city, said the 10 properties listed on the council’s agenda were the first of several other properties to be decided upon. He advised the council property owners should be given 30 days to begin demolishing or repairing the structures and 90 days to complete. Shirley Bonin, mayor pro tem, asked Sanders if the mortgage holders were notified. He answered yes.
First to speak at the public hearing was Pete Amy. He owns the properties at 801 and 803 Boston.Amy said he contacts contractors to work on the houses. They give him their prices and he doesn’t hear back from them again. He added he will speak with a contractor on Wednesday and he has the funds to rehabilitate the houses. Amy also said he didn’t appreciate Dean Fuller, city building inspector, entering onto his property without his notice.
“I would appreciate it if he notified me and I would be glad to accompany him,” Amy said.
Vandals also did some damages to the houses in the past. Amy said he has been paying the full amount of taxes owed since he’s began residing there. Councilman Mike Trahan asked Amy why it’s been taking him so long to repair the homes. Amy said he’s done a lot of work by himself to the 803 Boston property. Trahan then said something needed to be done.
Amy said he agrees something needed to be done such as the city’s garbage trucks not losing their trash on the streets. He added his goal is to buy additional houses in his neighborhood. The council decided for Amy to submit a detailed plan for repair to the council, report back in 60 days if there needs to be a revision to the plan and 90 days from the start of the process.
Next to speak was Delilah Mahoney about the property at 2520 Bowie. She told the council she was confused as to why she was summoned to the public hearing since there’s nothing left on the property. She said the demolition took longer than they would had liked, but the foundation was removed on March 23 and the last pile of dirt was removed on April 3.
Mahoney added her family was “financially wiped out” by Hurricane Ike and she also lost contact with Fuller. She said she, her husband, and a neighbor did all of the work with their own two hands. Sanders told Mahoney it took them a long time “to ramp up and move on.”
Trahan thanked the Mahoneys for taking pride in their city and cleaning their property up. No action was taken on the property. The Browns said they would need 90 days to remove family heirlooms and memorabilia from the 1118 Boston property before it’s demolished. The owners were given 30 days to demolish or repair the structure
Decisions on other listed properties are as the following:
106 Peach- 30 days to demolish or repair the structure
221 Florence- 30 days to demolish or repair the structure
907 Albany- 30 days to demolish or repair the structure
2118 Houston- 60 days to report back to the council on the progress and 90 days from the start the process
2120 Houston- 60 days to report back to the council on the progress and 90 days from the start the process (There were questions on who’s funding the demolition and placing a lien on rental property, etc. on the two Houston Street properties)
2314 Bonham- 30 days to demolish or repair the structure
The council will meet again on Monday, June 23 to discuss the status of four or five additional structures. There are eight substandard structures remaining in the city.