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Tusten mulls demolition law

By Guy Charles Harriton
January 30, 2013

The Tusten Town Board, at a public hearing on January 14, tackled the difficult question of a demolition law, touching on the subjects of what is considered an abandoned building and when a building should be deemed unsafe.

Tusten supervisor Carol Wingert said building inspector and code enforcement officer Gary Amerbach’s enforcement “doesn’t have any teeth” in taking action on unsafe buildings because there is no demolition law. But she said that Tusten doesn’t have any overwhelming problems in that area.

Amerbach told the board that the definition of an unsafe building is one that is not “sound” and has significant structural problems. Under the proposed law, once a building is deemed unsafe, the owner would have 30 days to make the necessary repairs to prevent it from being razed. There was some question as to whether 30 days is enough time for an owner to come up to code. It was noted that an owner had every right to hire an engineer to contest the decision of code enforcement.

Touching on this subject, resident Tina Spangler said the “ambiguity” would have to be eliminated in her estimation, and that there should be a reasonable “window of time” for owners to repair their property.

“We don’t want unsafe buildings, but we don’t want to take away owners’ rights,” she told the approximately 25 people attending the hearing.

There was talk during and after the public hearing about Luxton Lake, an area that resident Jean Sackett called “sub-standard” in some regards. After the hearing, Wingert said that Luxton Lake has issues with houses and mobile homes.

“We all want to conform,” Sackett said, adding that some properties have limited yards.

The cost to tear down a single house is estimated to run between $10,000 and $12,000.