Property owner at odds with officials over demolition of condemned house

Last updated: May 21. 2014 5:21PM - 2622 Views
By Jane Beathard jbeathard@civitasmedia.com

Owner Bill Shaw posted signs expressing his discontent with officials in front of the property at 249 W. High St. The signs have since been reversed. The property is scheduled to be demolished Thursday.
Owner Bill Shaw posted signs expressing his discontent with officials in front of the property at 249 W. High St. The signs have since been reversed. The property is scheduled to be demolished Thursday.
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Bulldozers are scheduled to take down an abandoned and condemned house at 239 W. High St. in London on Thursday despite protests by the current owner.

The house is slated for demolition as a blighted property under Madison County’s Moving Ohio Forward Grant.

Grant administrator Joe Johnson will request a city police stand-by to prevent the owner, William E. Shaw, Jr., from interfering with contractors hired to tear the house down.

Officers responded to the address at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 20, to resolve a confrontation between Shaw and Terry Rister of H&H Environmental, the police log shows.

H&H Environmental was hired to remove asbestos from the house prior to demolition.

Officials with the Madison County-London City Health District condemned the house in October 2013, along with a vacant office building at 249 W. High St. and portions of an adjoining 16-unit apartment building Shaws owns on Stump Lane. Together, they were judged a public nuisance.

Only the house at 249 W. High St. is currently slated for demolition.

Early in 2013, health department inspectors said three units of the apartment building were bug infested, had no utilities and were a hotbed of criminal activity.

A Press story on Nov. 20, 2013 said Columbus developer John P. Gibboney owned all three properties at the time and did not appeal the condemnation.

County auditor records show Gibboney transferred the three to Shaw last month. Costs were $22,299 for 239 W. High St.; $11,960 for 249 W. High St. and $265,741 for the apartment complex.

Shaw said the sale involved a land contract. He planned to repair all three and improve the West High Street neighborhood.

County health commissioner Mary Ann Webb said Shaw bought the buildings, knowing they were condemned. In addition, Shaw never sought proper permits to make repairs. In the meantime, trash piled up, grass grew and utilities remained disconnected.

On Tuesday, common pleas judge Eamon Costello denied Shaw’s request for a civil protection order against Webb, saying the commissioner posed no physical threat to Shaw.

Shaw said he cannot afford further legal action to prevent Thursday’s scheduled demolition.

“I can’t afford both attorney fees and rehab costs,” Shaw said. “My efforts would be fruitless.”

He insisted all three structures can be salvaged, but certain city and county officials are blocking his attempts. Specifically, Shaw pointed to Webb, county prosecutor Steve Pronai and London Safety-Services Director Steve Hume.

“Hume has an action against me,” Shaw said. “They are trying to kick Bill down.”

Complicating the demolition issue are delinquent utility bills on the Stump Lane apartments and another rental property owned by Shaw at 64-66 S. Main St. in London.

Shaw said Gibboney promised to pay a $995 water and sewer bill under terms of the land contract.

Carolyn Gorman of the London Board of Public Utilities confirmed that statement and said the high-dollar balance resulted from a leak at the apartment complex. A partial payment of $448 would allow water to again flow to the apartment complex, she added.

Until then, a “no occupancy” order by the health department remains in place.

Shaw also missed a May 20 deadline to make a $53 payment on a $406 city utility bill at 64-66 S. Main St., Gorman said.

Disconnection of utilities there is likely to result in another condemnation, Hume said.

The address has often been the target of drug busts by local law enforcement.

Hume said Shaw doesn’t understand commercial building codes and the permitting process. Auditor’s records showed Shaw owns 11 land parcels in the county.

Shaw insists no permits are necessary to complete repairs at the West High Street locations.

He asked for public support to reverse condemnation and demolition proceedings.

Jane Beathard can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 16 or via Twitter @JaneBeathard.

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