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  • Writer's pictureRoger Sims, Journal Staff

Cost to demolish problem houses in La Cygne: $48,000

The duplex at left at 109 S. Second Street was built partially in the alley. It was demolished earlier this month following settlement between the owner and the City of La Cygne. (File photo)

LA CYGNE – Over the past few weeks, the City of La Cygne has picked up the cost of demolishing and removing debris from a house with a wall that partially collapsed at 402 S. Broadway. In an emergency session the La Cygne City Council voted to hire a contractor to remove the house that had long been viewed as a hazard.

Last week, a duplex at 109 S. Second Street was demolished and the debris removed, again on the city’s tab.

The duplex, most of which was built on the city’s right of way or in an alley, was owned by Jackie Pribble and was the subject of a story in the Journal earlier this year after the city gave her until last May to have her tenants moved out and the structure torn down.

In a case more than a couple decades old, the city issued a building permit for Pribble’s home address on Railroad Avenue, but the structure was actually staked out mostly on property she didn’t own on Second Street.

Earlier in September, the city reached a deal with Pribble and her attorney to remove the structure at at the city’s expense.

At the La Cygne City Council’s Sept. 9 meeting, City Clerk Jodi Wade noted that the city had spent more than $48,000 over the past few months to remove four houses and the debris left from razing them. She said she was looking for a source of grant money to help pay for similar projects.

Wade also said the city should thank the Linn County Commission for waiving landfill fees on on at least two of those demolitions. She said that waiver helped the city save a considerable amount of money.

City officials feared that Pribble's case was to be one of many where homes and other

structures were built either outside of the owner’s property lines or they violated setback guidelines contained in the city codes.

City Codes Officer Allison Fox reported to the council that a property owner on North Fourth Street had begun building a replacement porch on the front of a residence that did not have a permit. She said the owner was instructed to stop construction until a permit could be issued.

In her report, Fox said that the porch did not meet setback requirements. She also said the owner and the city have been odds on the project more than 20 years, with the city improperly issuing a permit for the project in 1998.

Fox also said that the owner of a home being built on South First Street had been asking about a permit that was applied for on that project. She said she advised the owner the lot needed to be surveyed before a permit could be issued.

In other matters, the council also reached consensus on rerouting two sewer pipes on Ninth Street between Sycamore and Elm streets. Public Works Supervisor Dan Nasalroad said the 8-inch pipe that Nowak Construction was going to replace only had a 1-percent slope, not enough to keep the line draining readily. The ideal slope is 6 percent or more.

The company proposed to route the pipe down the alley to a point that would create the 6 percent slope. The cost: an estimated $320,000, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture would be willing to add to the amount financed, according to the city’s engineer.

The council also agreed to a change order that would allow an alternate method to digging up pipes to replace them. Nasalroad said the process involves grinding up the existing pipe into dust and in the process pulling new pipe through to replace it. He said there was no additional charge - or savings - for that process.

Nasalroad said the sewer rehabilitation project was 25 percent complete with the relining portion about 10 percent complete. He said Nowak Construction set a completion target of late December or early January depending on weather condition. The company brought in three crews plus a relining contractor to finish the project in a timely manner.

The council also:

• Went into closed session to discuss acquisition of real property at the request of Fox. She noted in her report that she would request the executive session in regard to recent work on the trailer parks in the city.

• Learned from Council Member Danny Curtis that the sign at Oak Lawn Cemetery was under construction.

• Voted to meet with the Park Board in a workshop on Wednesday, Sept. 28, to discuss repealing the charter of the board.

• Approved an invoice from Institute for Building Technology and Safety (IBTS) for more than $6,800 for work on the city’s comprehensive plan update.

•Gave Fox permission to look for a vehicle in the $25,000 range that could be used for her code-enforcement work.

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