2018-09-09 / Front Page

Council grants 45-day extension for Heritage House repairs

By Jeanne Marcello
Staff Reporter

VILLAGE OF CHESANING – In March, a judge granted Timothy Whitney 180 days to make specific repairs to his property, the building formerly known as the Heritage House, 605 W. Broad St. The deadline was Sept. 1. The repairs were not completed.

Chesaning building administrator Rob Kehoe addressed the Chesaning village council during its Tuesday, Sept. 4 meeting, explaining that the village gave Whitney 90 days to make the required repairs, but his attorney requested 180 days and the court agreed. The work was not completed. It would cost the village $25,000 to tear it down, Kehoe said.

During the last two weeks of August, Whitney’s contractor was onsite working with a small crew. The crew appears to have replaced the wood planks and the railing on the front porch.

Village president Joseph Sedlar, Jr. said, “What he’s doing hasn’t addressed the worst part, the columns.”

Kehoe responded, “You have two choices. You can bulldoze it or get a signed (performance) agreement.”

Sedlar said, “What if he can’t meet the 45-day deadline? He’s not local. He’s got no local connection.”

Keyhoe told the court, “I’ve never seen a situation like this where several people have offered to buy it. He won’t sell.”

Whitney contacted village administrator Troy Feltman during the last week of August to request a 45-day extension. “He had difficulty securing the funding and thinks he can complete the (specified) repairs in 45 days. Right now, the only option would be to tear it down.”

Sedlar expressed concern over the structural issues.

Kehoe said, “Right now, our choices are to tear it down or grant the extension. We spent our money, went to court.”

Feltman said, “The issue is whether you want to give him 45 days.”

Sedlar referred to the work that’s been done as minor repairs.

Councilman Trent Vondrasek said, “He just secured financing.”

Kehoe listed some of the required repairs: foundation, broken windows, the columns. “Those columns are serious,” he said.

Sedlar said, “The guy has had six years. What is 45 days going to do?”

Kehoe explained that if the village tears it down, that cost would be placed on the property taxes for that parcel. He said Brady Township ended up tearing down a house and put it on the taxes. “They haven’t gotten the money back. It’s frustrating to me. (Back in March,) he had an attorney show up in court to request another 90 days. Usually no one shows up,” Kehoe said.

Sedlar asked other board members for comments.

Village president pro-tem Matthew Hoover said, “Give him until Oct. 20. If it’s not done, we tear it down. He can sell the property anytime.”

Sedlar said, “We already went to court. We’re the ones that get sued because we didn’t follow through. I don’t want to tear it down, but he doesn’t care about us.”

Vondrasek said, “There’s a lot of community pride in that house. We have to sit with all the memories of that building.”

Feltman said, “The way I look at it is, when the village goes to court, we are seeking compliance with our ordinances.”

Sedlar said, “You can’t get it built in 45 days. It has to be engineered. He had trouble getting money to do the deck. Look what happened to the Showboat. It’s gone now. Get your emotions out of it. Do what we’re elected to do.”

Feltman said, “He’s current on the taxes.”

Hoover moved to give Whitney 45 days, but to get ready to tear the building down. The council did a roll call vote with some councilmen waiting a second or two, before voting. In the end, the 45-day extension was approved with four yes votes to two no votes. Sedlar and Vondrasek opposed the extension.

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