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City grants extension for mandated home repairs

Published: Friday, May 10, 2013 8:41 a.m. CST • Updated: Friday, May 10, 2013 11:45 a.m. CST
Caption
(CNA photo by SARAH BROWN)
This house owned by Tim and Ashley Pingree undergoes repairs after it landed on the city's nuisance property list in 2011.

Pressed for time, homeowners Tim and Ashley Pingree are working against the clock to complete home repairs as ordered by Creston City Council.

Background

The Pingree’s house, 500 N. Vine St., which is the childhood home of Tim Pingree and formerly owned by his mother Annette Pingree, was on the city’s abandoned property list in 2011 before the Pingrees accepted an offer from Annette Pingree to take over ownership and make the necessary repairs.

The house was facing demolition based on severe delapidation and rotting of the exterior siding, porch and roof.

Fast forward

Since 2011, the Pingrees have met with the council to provide repair updates. However, on Tuesday, Tim told the council progress is being made, but is slow-going because he is making the repairs himself on top of a full-time work schedule.

“I have the siding purchased, and I am in the process of putting it up,” said Pingree. “When I get that mostly up, I will get the lumber for the porches.”

According to Ashley, they ripped the house “to the bones” and installed all new wiring, plumbing, floors, bathrooms and kitchen.

“It was me and my husband from 8 a.m. to 10 o’clock at night,” said Ashley Pingree. “We didn’t get to feed our kids. We didn’t get to feed them supper. We didn’t get to do anything.”

In an interview with the Creston News Advertiser Wednesday, Ashley Pingree said they were able to complete interior work during an unemployment period in 2011, but since then, she and her husband returned to work full time at Bunn-O-Matic, which reduced the amount of time they had to work on their home.

Ashley said it has been stressful, and setbacks such as Tim’s second deployment to Afghanistan and back surgery last year in addition to raising a 3- and 5-year-old have impacted their efforts; however, they continue to complete the repairs.

Progress

“I drove by it, and it looks like they are proceeding nicely,” said Councilwoman Marsha Wilson.

Ashley Pingree said they hope to have the front of the house sided and front porch redone by the end of May, at which time, they would like to host a birthday party for their young daughters.

Process

Creston Police Chief Paul Ver Meer said most homes that end up on the city’s nuisance property list are complaint driven.

According to Ver Meer, complaints are received by city hall and distributed to the proper authorities. Creston Fire Chief Todd Jackson reviews dangerous or dilapidated structures, Ver Meer handles nuisances such as junk cars and littered yards, and City Administrator Mike Taylor deals with tall grass.

Both Jackson and Ver Meer said, when they receive a complaint, they drive by the property to see if it is considered a nuisance according to city code. If so, a letter is issued to the tenant defining the nuisance and solutions. If the abatement process is not complete, the tenant will then receive a letter from the city attorney.

“If they still don’t comply, we set up a court date and take them to court,” said Jackson. “If they show up, we have a court hearing, and if not, we get a judges order to demolish the structure.”

Jackson said the cost of demolishing a dangerous or abandoned house costs the city nearly $20,000. He said approximately 30 houses have been destroyed over the past six years.

Let us be

The council voted unanimously to check the Pingree’s progress and discuss it again at Creston’s City Council meeting Sept. 3.

The Pingrees asked the council to leave them alone and said the repairs will get done.

“When the guy started it, it was in really bad shape,” said Ver Meer.  “I agree with the deadlines they (the council) set. I guarantee this guy is going to follow through and finish it. I have no doubt about that. But you always have to have follow-up to make sure. Not everyone is as conscientious as him.”

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