Hanover demolition dispute continues
Thursday, November 08, 2012 10:00 AM
The Hanover Town Council voted unanimously to lift a demolition order for a house at 282 November St. that was deemed unsafe earlier this year but now is in the process of being rehabilitated.
But George Todd, the man who purchased the house in a county tax sale for about $15,000, showed his disapproval with the council Wednesday night after the board informed him that, even though the demolition was tabled, the condemnation order is still valid for two years.
The condemnation order was established before Todd purchased the house.
For the order to remain off the table, the council warned that there must be upgrades at the site. If renovations halt, a 10-day notice could be sent and the house could be demolished, the council determined.
"As long as you're working on it, you're fine," said Council President Debbie Kroger.
Unhappy with the two-year watch period, Todd challenged the board's authority to have the property torn down and repeatedly threatened legal action - all of which came after the board had locked in a vote to allow Todd to proceed with renovations. Todd shouted at the board and told the members, "I dare you to tear that building down."
Town attorney Wil Goering repeatedly told Todd to stop shouting and advised him that he was disorderly in a public meeting, an offense that could lead to criminal charges. However, Todd continued to shout and was escorted off the city property by Hanover Town Marshal Ron Kroger. No arrest followed.
Debbie Kroger later apologized to the audience and those who might have been watching the incident on television.
Before the vote and disruption, Goering told the board that after seeing Todd's work on the house, the town building inspector recommended allowing Todd to proceed with renovations.
Todd also told the council he had been fixing up the house before the council approved the demolition order at its last meeting. He said he installed a new garage door, several windows and removed the trash and debris from inside the house. In the process, he said he also spent $300 to help clean up the neighbor's property.
"I was not totally delighted with you guys' actions at the last meeting," Todd said when first addressing the council.
At the time, Todd said, he had a quit-claim deed, which would allow him to step foot on the property before the required year wait. Goering confirmed the authenticity of the deed during the meeting Wednesday.
Todd added that there was some confusion about the time of the meeting between him and the board. He said he found out about the demolition order from a resident on November Street.
Kroger said the date was announced during an open meeting and was on record.
In other business:
The council held it first readings for water and sewer rate adjustments. The board recently voted to implement adjustments on its sewer and water services, which included an 18 percent increase in sewer rates and a 31 percent increase in water rates. The water rates have not been raised in the past five years, while the sewer rates have not been raised in more than 10 years. The average customer would pay about $11 more per month with the proposed changes.
To enact an ordinance to change the rates for the water and sewer, the town must introduce the ordinance and then hold a public hearing for customers.
The town fast-tracked its adoption of an ordinance to refinance bonds for the sewer treatment facility in an effort to lower interest rates. The council members approved all three readings of the change, which they then unanimously adopted.