The City held a public hearing last week at the regularly scheduled Board of Aldermen (BOA) meeting at CIty Hall. The out-of-town owners of the large property at 910 Jefferson Street were ordered to show the City just cause why a structure deemed dangerous and unsafe by Lee Riegel, City building inspector and in violation of City Ordinance Section 525.020 should not be demolished. Previous to the hearing, certified mail notices of the hearing were sent to Arthur Brigham, listed as the registered agent of 910 Washington LLC, with a Hermann address, as well as Sam C. Dorman the registered agent of Hermann Equipment Manufacturing Co., Inc., with a St. Louis address.
City Administrator (and Building Commissioner) Mark Wallace presided at the hearing along with City Attorney David Politte. Lee Riegel gave testimony that an inspection had taken place from the public right-of-way of the masonry block building with a footprint of approximately 60,000 sq. ft. In his estimation, under the dangerous building code in A. paragraph 9, the building is “unsafe, unsanitary and dangerous to health, safety and general welfare of the City of Hermann.”
“I do believe this is the case,” said the building inspector. “The roof is about to fail and what it does to the walls [when it fails] is anybody’s guess.”
The inspector also said the building was in violation of the non-conforming use clause in the Code.
“At one time, it served a purpose for the City of Hermann, but I guess those days are gone,” he concluded.
“Are you asking Commissioner Wallace to find that the building is dangerous and for the owner to destroy and demolish it within 30 days, and if not, for the City to go ahead and proceed to demolish the building?” asked Attorney Politte.
“That’s correct,” answered Riegel.
Nobody from 910 Washington LLC was present, nor an attorney representing the company was present, nor were possible tenants or persons with interest in the property.
Attorney Politte said, “For the record, I personally mailed the Notice of Hearing in order to show cause on July 26, 2019.” “The certified letter receipts came back, not having been deliverable, however, I believe the City can proceed with this hearing because it was published as required by law and also because an attorney named Bill Higley, purporting to represent the owner, called Friday, Aug. 23 to request that the hearing be continued. We know he, or the property owner got notice.”
Attorney Politte added that Mr. Higley called him at noon (the day of the public hearing) to discuss the meeting and mentioned he or Mr. Brigham would attend.
“He knew we were going to proceed,” said Mr. Politte.
Commissioner Wallace said the building is “an eyesore, a nuisance, it’s falling down and needs to be demolished.”
Attorney Politte said he would need to prepare a document, “written findings of fact and conclusions.”
“We will put that with the [hearing] transcript that is being prepared and will get [Commissioner] Wallace’s signature to send to the property owner,” he said. “This will confirm that he has 30 days to take the building down, or else, the City may do so.”
(Editor’s note: For clarification, The Advertiser-Courier asked Commissioner Wallace if the demolition was limited to the masonry block building or the whole business complex, comprising at least two more buildings, that equates to a footprint equivalent of close to a city block. The commissioner said at this time, demolition is limited to the yellow block masonry building).