The owner of several abandoned Jefferson City properties has less than a month to argue why she should maintain ownership of seven properties in the East Capitol Avenue area.
The Jefferson City Housing Authority filed an eminent domain lawsuit in August against Barbara Buescher for five homes in the 500 block of East Capitol Avenue, as well as two empty lots on East State and Jackson streets.
“Homeowners have rights. We did everything we could to protect her rights, but in the end, she was not willing to sell and the property hadn’t improved so we filed a lawsuit,” said JCHA Executive Director Cynthia Quetsch.
Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce gave Buescher until March 5 to submit arguments explaining why Buescher should maintain possession of the properties.
Buescher lost possession of two Jackson street properties to the Housing Authority in a similar lawsuit that was settled last year. Quetsch said that one of the homes, 101 Jackson St., was occupied by squatters and animals for the past 10 years, at least.
Quetsch said 101 Jackson St. had “human debris, clothing, a lot of broken glass. So that building is not safe right now for people to come in.”
The Housing Authority is able to seek possession through eminent domain because a city-funded study found that the area was blighted and losing value.
According to the Jefferson City website, Buescher owns 25, or 25%, of the 107 properties registered as abandoned by the city. Most of the parcels are in the East Capitol avenue area, which the city is determined to revitalize.
A business owner on the street said he is happy to see the JCHA working to improve the area.
“It’s been very discouraging over the last 35 years to see the deterioration from those who have refused to do anything with their properties,” said Steve Veile, CEO of Communique at 512 E. Capitol Ave. “I think it’s going to take some time, but this area is going to come back and it’s going to be better than ever.”