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Too Late to Remediate
by Ron Davis
Demolition of an aging and crumbling Columbus, OH, shopping center is now a certainty.
That shopping center, owned by Briggs Road Shopping Center Corp., is in such a state of disrepair that local officials have declared it a public nuisance. They therefore want it torn down as soon as possible.
The owners of the facility, however, have battled long and hard to preserve the center. That battle spilled over into the courts, where the center’s owners argued that they should be allowed to repair any of the building’s structural flaws.
City officials countered that the building is beyond repair. They contended that the property is open to entry; that it has suffered water infiltration; and that weather, age, and neglect have caused the building to deteriorate. They added that “there is the danger of falling roof panels,” and that “many of the roof panels have already fallen.” Finally, they stated that “those [roof panels] that have not fallen are most likely water-logged and will likely fall, sporadically, in the foreseeable future.”
During court proceedings, an expert testifying for the owners of the center acknowledged that numerous holes in the roof exist and that the condition of the building is not structurally safe. But he said that if there’s a safety issue involving the roof, “we would remove that and then make the property structurally safe again,…[and] so that…the wall doesn’t fall over, we would…brace the building.”
An Ohio court decided, however, that evidence supported the finding that the building is structurally unsafe and, therefore, a public nuisance under local building-code regulations.
The center’s owners appealed, claiming that the court denied them the right to “remediate” the building. They added that a property owner must be afforded the chance to repair or rehabilitate a building before the city can demolish it.
An Ohio appellate court agreed that the building must go, adding, “The [shopping center’s owners] ignore the fact that they were provided notice of the alleged violations in 2005, but failed to take timely action and that the order [to demolish the center] was subsequently affirmed by the county building commissioner.” (Columbus v. Briggs Rd. Shopping Ctr. Corp., 2009 WL 250874 [Ohio App. 10 Dist.])
Decision: February 2009
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