City awarded $54,600 in infraction judgment
By BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
Does the City of Mt. Pleasant want to be a property owner?
Mayor Steve Brimhall says no, and especially not concerning a Victorian-style house located at 301 N. Jefferson St.
However, the city may not have a choice.
Henry County District court rules in favor of the city in a municipal infraction citation against M. L. Rieschl of Kenosha, Wis., who is listed as the owner of the house on North Jefferson. The city was awarded $54,600 May 3 in the court hearing. Rieschl did not appear at the hearing.
The award was based on a civil penalty of $100 per day for 546 days that the violations have existed.
Barb Welander, city building and zoning administrator, said the city could have sought up to $500 day in damages.
The property has been a sore spot with the city for years. Mt. Pleasant began legal proceedings in 2007 against Rieschl concerning building code violations, Welander said.
“We have received a lot of complaints about it, not only from neighbors but other city residents as well,” Welander said.
Following is a laundry list of violations cited by the city in a May 27, 2010, complaint against Rieschl.
• Deteriorating and unpainted siding;
• Missing shingles, deteriorating roofing and holes in eaves;
• Missing gutters and downspouts;
• Deteriorating and unpainted steps, porch floors, railings, posts and decorative facia trim;
• Structurally deteriorated porch roof, large hole in roof;
• Deteriorating and unpainted roof facia boards;
• Deteriorating brick walls at front steps;
• Deteriorating and unpainted rim joist boards;
• Missing and deteriorating porch crawl space lattice;
• Shifting and deteriorating of stone foundation;
• Missing stair handrail;
• Basement outer access door collapsed;
• Broken and deteriorating balcony railing, needs paint;
• Porch ceiling is deteriorated and boards are sagging;
• Torn screen on porch door;
• Deteriorating chimney brick and mortar;
• Underground fuel tank needs to be checked to verify if empty and not leaking;
• Electric service wire too low, needs to be raised;
• Garage needs paint, north wall is bowing outward;
• Holes in walls and eaves need to be closed, birds have nested inside;
• Bee colony has settled in west wall of house. Honey has caused staining and deteriorating of siding and possibly structural damage;
• Sidewalk is badly crumbled, cracked and uneven.
According to property records, the house was built in 1900 and Rieschl has been the owner since 1995. No consideration was given when Rieschl assumed title. The lot on which the house is located has an assessed value of $16,000 and the dwelling is assessed at $45,390. Property taxes are roughly $2,300 per year and taxes are current.
Welander, a Mt. Pleasant native, said the house has been unoccupied for at least the past 20 years. She said that Rieschl did live in Mt. Pleasant for a period in the 1960s.
The home has been divided into apartments in the past.
There seems to be more questions than answers about the house. It is common knowledge that a number of city residents have expressed interest in the property in the past and attempted to purchase it, but Rieschl did not want to sell.
Welander said the city has contacted Rieschl numerous times about the property and some roof and siding repair has been done in recent years.
“This has been going on for a long time,” acknowledged Brimhall Wednesday night when the council was informed about the judgment. “Our goal is not to own property but have people fix up their property.”
Rieschl has 30 days to appeal the ruling. If she does not, the house will be offered at a sheriff’s sale.