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Police chief ponders fate of crumbling building’s neighbor

It’s been more than six months since the western wall of 200 E. High St. partially collapsed onto the street. The neighbors at 202 E. High St. argued with the city Tuesday why their building shouldn’t be demolished as well.

The city deemed 202 E. High dangerous months ago because of wall deterioration observed by engineers, and other reasons. The hearing was called because those issues remain unresolved, according to city Building Official Larry Burkhardt and Associate City Counselor Bryan Wolford.

Demolition plans have been delayed since July because 200 and 202 E. High share a wall, which engineers say is also failing.

JCPD Chief Roger Schroeder was selected by City Administrator Steve Crowell to lead the hearing.

It is possible that Schroeder could deem the demolition of 202 E. High St. necessary for ensuring public safety. In which case, the city would continue the process of fixing the issues with or without consent of the property owner, who would be compensated based on the assessed value of the home.

Burkhardt said several inspections by city and outside engineers found that significant amounts of mortar were washed out of walls inside 200 E. High, as well as the shared wall.

Attorney David Bandre spoke on behalf of the owners of 202, Carol and Ruben Wieberg. Bandre said the city did not provide the evidence necessary to pursue demolition.

“It’s easier… to destroy both buildings,” Bandre told ABC 17 News. “The path of least resistance is not fair to my clients, because they lose their building.”

The two buildings have shared a wall since 202 E. High was built over 100 years ago. When asked if it was conceivable to separate the two, Burkhardt said there were “a lot of unknowns,” and that such a plan would require a skilled contractor from the Kansas City or St. Louis area.

Burkhardt also said that temporary supports for 202 E. High would need to be placed inside 200 E. High before its demolition.

Schroeder has 30 days to issue a ruling on whether the city can proceed with demolition of both 200 and 202 E. High St.

The Wiebergs are also involved in a lawsuit with Andrew Neidert, the owner of 200 E. High, over the ownership of the shared wall. A ruling could have significant implications on who gets to decide the demolition plan, as well as who has to pay for it.

Despite the ongoing legal battle, Bandre said both parties are negotiating a deal behind closed doors.

“We’re working behind the scenes to come to a friendly resolution. All the public sees is fighting, and that’s probably not fair, because it’s not really that,” Bandre said.

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