WHITE BEAR TOWNSHIP — The owner of a vacant home at 2105 Stillwater St. has 30 days to clean up the property and make long overdue repairs.
The house is currently uninhabitable and has been for 10 years since the elderly owner, listed as Lupe Lopez, moved out. Utilities are turned off, so it has no heat or water.
Building inspector Mike Johnson said tires, lawnmowers, buckets, a bathtub, dilapidated furniture, scrap metal and other discarded trash are strewn about the property and have to go. He asked the Town Board to approve a 30-day deadline to restore utilities, paint the house, replace an entry door and garage door and make other repairs, noting progress to date has been “insignificant” and the property continues to deteriorate.
James Lopez, a Vadnais Heights resident and son of the owner, told the board Nov. 18 he is trying to resolve the township's concerns and has spent $27,000 on the cleanup so far. He has removed a lot of the junk, he said, and is talking to Xcel Energy to reinstate services.
“I'm not here giving excuses, but I want to restore the property,” Lopez said. “My mother is 90 and I owe it to her to fix the house.” Asked if he plans to live on the property, Lopez replied, “yes.”
Town Chair Ed Prudhon sympathized with the family's predicament but observed that the neglect “has been going on too long.”
“The town doesn't want to be this drastic,” said township attorney Chad Lemmons, “but the property is not safe and it's detrimental to other property owners.”
Prudhon reminded Lopez that if the property goes on a vacancy registry, a fee of $1,100 per year is imposed. “It's to your benefit to get this done,” he said.
Inspector Johnson added that the house is condemned and unfit for human habitation.
If the town has to abate the nuisance conditions, the cost of demolition and cleanup will be charged against the property. A progress report to the board will be made at the Dec. 16 meeting.
In other business Nov. 18, the Town Board:
• Changed the date of Township Day to the third Saturday in September. Independent contractor Lisa Beecroft will continue to plan the event.
• Authorized final payment to Lametti & Sons for lift station rehabilitation at 2545 Buffalo St. The project cost a total of $285,000 and came in under budget.
• Tabled annual performance review of Clerk-Treasurer Patrick Christopherson to the Nov. 22 executive meeting.
• Approved Economic Development Authority minutes regarding the stable property on Portland Avenue. The town clerk reported that the wetland delineation has been completed and is waiting for Rice Creek Watershed District approval in December. The property is being prepared for resale to a residential developer.
• Heard a construction activity report. To date, seven single-family home permits have been requested totaling $2.4 million in valuation. This compares to 10 permits last year at this time valued at $2.6 million. Thirteen commercial permits have been requested year to date with a valuation of $2.4 million. Last year, 22 permits were granted valued at $4.5 million.
It was noted permits are running behind the last four years in the township, which is 98.5% developed.