He wants to sign property over to the City, which would have to demolish the ‘public safety hazard’

    A fire-damaged house on Lincoln Avenue could be on the chopping block after city staff recommend it be demolished as it’s currently a “public safety hazard.” City Administrator Shannon Stassen told the City Council this week that the property at 110 Lincoln was damaged by a fire in 2018 and the homeowner has left Crookston. Stassen said the owner wishes to sign the property over to the city and that Fire Chief Tim Froeber has kept some funds in his budget for this “specific reason,” referring to the possible demolition.

    The Planning Commission, who originally tabled the discussion, will need to zone the property and work toward the sale acquisition if that’s what’s decided, Stassen added.

    “We didn’t know if the owner had back taxes or delinquent utility bills, or if anyone would be interested in putting a home there,” explained Ward 5 City Council Member Dale Stainbrook who attended the Planning Commission meeting when it was discussed. “Would neighbors be interested in splitting the property? We (the city) have enough mowing to do as there is and it’s never pleasing to the neighbors. Just a couple questions, which is why it was tabled.”

    City Attorney Corky Reynolds answered some of the questions asked by Stainbrook saying the current homeowner has a Minnesota Finance loan on the property and that there’s no outstanding debt on the property including no outstanding utility bills, plus the property taxes are up to date for the first half of the year.

    “The owner has no funds to restore the building or take it down,” Reynolds explained. “It’s likely that neighbors would be interested, one or both; they were certainly interested when he lived there.”

    “He’s (the owner) ready, willing and able to sign a deed that would include the garage and the car, a 1965 Buick,” he added.

    Reynolds said later that quotes for demolition came in with a wide range, plus there would be tipping fees if that’s the route the council went.

    Stassen reiterated, after a couple Council members asked if the property could be used for in-fill housing, that it’s currently a hazard and, “whether it’s parceled off or used for in-fill, the big thing is getting ahead of the safety hazard.”

    Ward 1 City Council Member Jake Fee wondered, if the council decided against acquiring the property, just how long it would take for the property to go back to the county to which Reynolds replied saying the current owner, who is on disabled status, is able to pay the taxes until the end of the year.

    Council members also had concerns with legal fees if the property was transferred to the city, if they’d get any money for the small lot if sold to neighbors and the county’s tipping fees, but amended their original motion and second to direct staff to look further into the matter.