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Demolition is likely for one vacant, fire-damaged house in Columbia


A house on Pendleton Street in Columbia faces possible demolition after it has sat vacant for years with fire damage.

The home at 21 Pendleton St. caught fire in February 2021.

The home received significant damage from that fire and since then, has sat vacant, according to Columbia Neighborhood Services Manager Leigh Kottwitz.

Kottwitz said typically when a home receives fire damage, the City notifies the owner to take care of it. However, Kottwitz said the owners of this property have passed away, so there is no one with legal responsibility for the property.

"In this instance, there hasn't been anyone come forward on behalf of the owner," Kottwitz said. "When that happens, then that is an opportunity for the City to come in to protect that neighborhood and also to get rid of the nuisance."

The City had a nuisance structure hearing Friday morning to discuss the property. A code enforcement specialist presented evidence to Housing and Neighborhood Services Director Rebecca Thompson, including the City's process for determining this a nuisance structure as well as photos of the interior and exterior of the home.

Kottwitz said the home at 21 Pendleton St. received significant damage to the roof and ceiling after a fire in February 2021
This photo of the inside the home at 21 Pendleton St. was presented at Friday's nuisance structure hearing. Photo courtesy: Adam Friesz, City of Columbia Code Enforcement Specialist

Now, Thompson will have to decide if the structure should be recommended for demolition. Kottwitz said this decision will likely come by the end of June.

If demolition is recommended, City Council will have to make the final decision, which Kottwitz said will likely take place late this summer.

She said typically when a nuisance structure hearing occurs, demolition is recommended.

"Since we do believe it's a hazardous structure, it's not fit for human habitation," Kottwitz said. "So, that's why we're proposing that that structure be demolished."

She said the City went through the formal nuisance structure process back in 2022 and boarded up the home to keep anyone looking for shelter out of the dangerous structure. The process was put into motion due to her office's knowledge of the damaged property, but she said they have also received a complaint from a neighbor.

"It might result in just a vacant lot, but that's an improvement, I think, for that neighborhood over how it stands right now," Kottwitz said.

After demolition, she said there would be a tax lien against the property to pay for the City's demolition if the property ever sells.

"When the City tears down a structure, we don't take ownership of the property, we're just simply removing the nuisance," Kottwitz said. "That property continues to be owned by the owner as listed by Boone County records."

She said while she would love to see a home built on the property in the future, getting rid of the dangerous structure is the first priority. However, new construction is a long way away due to there not being a clear owner of the property.

Today was the department's first nuisance structure hearing in the Housing and Neighborhood Services Department with director Thompson. Kottwitz said these were previously held within community development.

While she said there are no more specific nuisance properties with hearings in the near future, this process has made her think about reviewing the City's list of properties and determine next steps for other properties, as well.

Article Topic Follows: Columbia

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Morgan Buresh

Morgan is an evening anchor and reporter who came to ABC 17 News in April 2023.


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