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Vacant house causing council fits

By Staff | Jul 7, 2019

This house in the Upper Valley Drive neighborhood has been vacant for some time.

The Blue Earth City Council has been taking an aggressive approach to trying to get rid of unsafe and uninhabitable houses in the city.

The city, and its Housing Rehabilitation Authority (HRA), have been taking over ownership of several houses per year and demolishing them.

But, one house is not going to be so easy, the council found out at the their meeting last Monday.

The house is located at 906 Valley Drive and has been a subject of discussion at the last several City Council meetings.

The city recently conducted an inspection of the building and found it to be unsafe. They also had contractor Steve Pilcher do an inspection and estimates of repairing all the items.

“In order to save this house, someone would need to invest $80,000 to $100,000, to fix all that the water has damaged, and that may be a low estimate,” Pilcher’s report stated “It is too bad because in its day it was a solid home, but the foundation is all that is worth saving.”

City attorney David Frundt said he has been in contact with the owner of the house, which is a bank in San Diego, California.

“It was a HUD (Housing and Urban Development) property,” Frundt told the council. “But they foreclosed on it and then transferred ownership to this bank.”

Frundt added the bank could then make the property saleable and then transfer ownership back to HUD, a federal agency.

“It’s a bureaucratic mess, for sure,” Frundt added. “It is difficult to find who to deal with.”

The city has already sent letters to have the lawn mowed and the property brought up to safety standards.

Mayor Rick Scholtes suggested that Frundt contact the bank and attempt to make a deal wherein the bank gives the property to the city and not have to fix the issues, and the city could then tear the house down.

Frundt did not think it would be quite that easy. The city first has to give the bank a chance to fix the issues, he said, but he will work with them on solving the situation. He added there could be a chance a representative of the owners might be at the next meeting.

“Maybe we should make them a formal offer to buy it and take it off their hands,” Mayor Scholtes said.

The vacant house was not the only property that was under discussion by the City Council.

Near the end of the meeting the council again went into closed session to discuss the possible sale of a lot in the Golden Spike Business Park on the north side of Blue Earth.

However, the council came out of the closed session to report staff gave the council an update on the proposed agreement, but no action was taken.