April 16, 2013

Fire debris forces lawsuit

MALONE — Owners of an apartment house that burned down in October are being sued for leaving a debris pile that others are now using to dump their trash.

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And a California man who owns three dilapidated properties, including a defunct movie theater on Pearl Street, may face the same legal action.


Carmella and Joseph Wanser own 15 Jane St., which burned down near Malone Middle School on Oct. 22, 2012.

The insurance company paid a settlement in the mid $80,000 range for the loss, which included money for the cleanup, said Village Attorney Kevin Nichols.

But the Wansers did not respond to notices of violation from Oct. 23 of Dec. 6 last year under code-enforcement regulations for allegedly allowing trash to accumulate and not clearing out the fire debris.


Architect Tim McCarthy certified the site as unsafe under the vacant structure and land portion of the State Property Maintenance Code, which states all vacant buildings and land must be maintained in “a clean, safe, secure and sanitary condition … as not to cause a blighting problem or adversely affect the public health or safety.”

Village Code Enforcement Officer Jim Haley filed the violations, along with pictures of the debris, with Franklin County Supreme Court, alleging the Wansers failed to comply with an order to remedy the problem.

If corrections are not made, the judge can file a judgment against the owner’s personal assets rather than against the property. That means the Wansers could end up paying the labor and landfill-disposal costs if the village does the removal work, plus the attorney fees, architect’s fee and other remediation costs.

But the next step is to have the Village Board conduct a Chapter 57 hearing on May 6 to have the Wansers explain their position.


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