Long-vacant Yukon home will be demolished

Owner denied request for more time to restore property, resolve title issue

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The Yukon City Council on Feb. 21 approved a property abatement to demolish the house at 720 Maple Avenue in the Spencer Addition. The house has been vacant for 34 years. The council last November declared the dilapidated structure a public nuisance. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

A Yukon house that’s been vacant 34 years is getting ready to be demolished.

The Yukon City Council has approved tearing down the structure in the 700 block of Maple after previously declaring the property a public nuisance.

Assistant City Manager Mitchell Hort recommended abating the nuisance because of the Spencer Addition home’s dilapidated condition.

City council members voted 5-0 at their Feb. 21st meeting to follow Hort’s advice.

In doing so, they rejected a request from Norman’s Gerald Kelly to give his family additional time because the “property attorney found more problems” with the title.
Kelly Heights LLC is the registered owner of the Maple Avenue property.

“It’s not dilapidated,” Kelly contended. “There’s three other properties on that block that all have holes in the roof and are all scattered about.”

Kelly asked Yukon city officials for “at least 90 days” before tearing the approximate 1,500 square foot structure down.

The house “may be viable” and one he may want to move his family into, he noted.

But “that’s going to take a little time,” Kelly told council members.

The Yukon City Council declared the property a public nuisance on Nov. 15, 2022.

At a public hearing, the council gave the owners 90 days to start demolition themselves – or submit to Yukon Development Services a plan to restore the house to a habitable condition.

A Yukon city inspector visited the site Feb. 21 and found the front door was “still not secured” and had “not been locked as it’s supposed to be,” Hort said.

“Closed and latched is not the same as secured,” he emphasized. “Secured is locked, where nobody can have access.”

Kelly described the “old, wonderful” arched door.

“I can secure that if that’s the only problem,” he said.

Kelly explained that windows were boarded up after “kids” continued to break in, and “we took the front door off and boarded it up” after the police “kicked it in” because of a suspected vandalism.

“It happens,” he said. “It was a legitimate call. They were doing what they were supposed to do. I just wish that we’d known about it.”

Kelly added that “we can secure the front door. I just didn’t want anyone kicking it in.

“It’s closed. It stays closed. The wind doesn’t blow it open. But we can lock it … if that’s the only issue with this house. Tearing down a house because the door’s not shut isn’t exactly a good thing.”

Kelly insisted the house would be “kept in code” if the abatement was delayed 90 days to provide him sufficient time to resolve the title ownership issue.

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JUST NOT ‘LIVABLE’

It’s more than the door, however.

Mitchell Hort

“You already declared it a nuisance,” Hort reminded council members.

Yukon’s assistant city manager shared recent photos showing holes in the roof.

“The roof is not substantial,” he explained. “You can see all he’s done is kind of patched it.”

The house is simply not livable in its current state.

“It’s not been livable,” Hort said. “It’s become kind of an ‘attractive’ nuisance.”

Nothing substantial has happened since the city council declared the property a public nuisance three months ago, he noted.

The Maple Avenue house was last occupied in 1989.

Kelly cited COVID-19 as a reason the property issues had not been resolved in recent years.

“We’re on it,” he told the city council Feb. 21. “It’s going to get done one way or another at this point. But I would like the time (90 more days) because I’d like to be in the house I graduated high school in – and my grandparents were in.

“I’m trying to get my family into Yukon again.”

If this is not possible, Kelly told the council he’d prefer spending his own money tearing the house because “it’s not always cheap.”

Several other houses on the block also have been vacant for a long time, Kelly argued.

“But we’re talking about yours, right?” Mayor Shelli Selby replied.

Ward 4 City Council Member Aric Gilliland asked what “specifically” had been done to the house since the council’s nuisance declaration.

“It’s been repaired so the house is not being deteriorated,” Kelly responded. “Yes, the first thing the house needs is a new roof.”

A Feb. 21st memo from Hort to the city council reads, “No proposal of restoration has been submitted. No permit(s) for restoration have been applied for, no communication or contact has been received by phone, email or letter from owner(s) and/or any representative of owner(s).

“No change has been made to the exterior house and there is no evidence of any change to interior of house since the last hearing on 11-15-22.”

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ONGOING ISSUES

Kelly reiterated his request for extra time to get the property title in order so he can make needed repairs to the home.

And he guaranteed the grass would be mowed this year.

“This is not an ongoing health and safety issue,” Kelly emphasized.

Yukon city attorney Roger Rinehart reiterated the city council already declared the property a public nuisance because of ongoing issues and previously gave the owners 90 days to address the dilapidated house.

“There was nothing said last time that I needed to do,” Kelly responded. “It would have taken a phone call to fix this other issue.

“It’s not like I’m trying to avoid anything. I’m trying to get this resolved.”
Gilliland asked whether Kelly could pay for the teardown.

He could, Yukon’s city attorney replied. Rinehart pointed to another recent instance when a property owner paid the abatement cost for a house the council had declared a nuisance.

If the City of Yukon pays to demolish this Maple Avenue house, a lien will be placed on the property against the owner(s) of record.