blight beat: Ypsilanti officials: Home infested with raccoons should be demolished
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Editor's note: This story has been updated to include more information about the 2012 taxes owed on this property.
Ypsilanti officials are seeking the demolition of a vacant boarded house inhabited by raccoons and squirrels.
The house located at 25 Bell St. near South Huron Street has been an eyesore for nearly 10 years, according to officials and neighbors.
A dangerous building hearing has been set for the property at 7 p.m. Oct. 2, when city council will decide whether the house should be demolished.
Fire Chief Jon Ichesco inspected the 1,497-square-foot property and said the house was in such bad shape that there were certain parts of the house he couldn't walk through in fear of the floor collapsing. Ichesco observed the raccoons inhabiting the second level of the house and squirrels living in the ceiling and attic.
"There are collapsed holes in the roof," he said. "The stairways were failing and the structure was damaged by the elements. The garage was leaning in on itself."
The garage has since been removed but remnants of it lay on the property along with large cinderblocks.
"It should be torn down," said Mutrey Gooden, who lives across the street.
Gooden said since the house has been boarded up, illegal entry hasn't been an issue. Shards of broken glass and alcohol bottles are littered across the front porch and parts of the lawn but despite this, Gooden said he hasn't seen anyone inhabit the property.
Donald Gooden, his son, said the property is dangerous and a hazard for families in the area.
"Someone could get killed or something there," Donald said.
Ichesco said the house was once occupied by a family that bought the property in 1988 for $8,000. When the parents died, the house transferred into the ownership of the son, Ronald Clark.
Clark then tried to rent the two-bedroom home.
"Someone tried to make this house into two efficiency apartment units," Ichesco said.
Eventually, Clark struggled to pay property taxes and the house soon fell into disrepair. Ichesco said Clark's property tax amount saw a considerable increase over the years and he appeared to struggle to generate enough revenue to cover the taxes.
Ichesco said in 1999 the property taxes were $2,759 and in 2012, the taxes, including inspection and escrow fees, increased to $5,000. The assessed value of the home is $35,100.
Clark could not be reached for comment.
"When you do rental homes, you have to bring it up to code and that was the undoing of this home," Ichesco said. "It's not habitable. (Now) the ceilings are falling in and there's a water leak from upstairs to the basement."
Building Department Manager Frank Daniels said one of his department's building inspectors observed several structural issues with the house.
The city's inspector agreed with the fire department that the building was hazardous and an April 27 consent agreement was signed between the inspector and Clark that established the property should be demolished.
"The owner consented to the fact that it's dangerous," Daniels said.
Daniels said the city is alerted to dangerous properties by complaints submitted by neighbors or by city staff driving around neighborhoods.
"Between the planning, building and fire departments, we kind of ranked them from really dangerous and ready to fall and on down," Daniels said. "We decided to take a certain amount down per year."
Ichesco said he's been inspecting houses since 1998 and has seen houses deteriorate into blight like this before.
"It's just one of those types of properties that historically it went from being a maintained structure with people raising families, to families gone and being a rental," he said.
"People buy for as little as possible, invest as little as possible and get rid of (it)," he said. "lt's like an old reused car that you can't haul off, it's done and used up."