City & Government, Creswell

Council tosses out ‘not a nuisance’ protest

CRESWELL – After the word hit in September that the Whistle Stop building on South Mill Street was to be abated, property owner Carlton Garton penned a letter of protest to City Recorder Roberta Tharp.
“I have performed clean up work and believe there is no nuisance,” he wrote, stating that he is protesting the abatement and would like to speak to the city council.
The building was declared uninhabitable after a fire destroyed the building in November 2017 and has been in a charred state since. City council last month voted to move forward on the City taking on the abatement if the owner does not take action.
Garton’s letter prompted a public hearing in council chambers on Monday night, though Garton did not show to make his case.
City Manager Michelle Amberg said that several unsuccessful attempts to reach Garton were made after he submitted his protest.
Council discussed whether Garton’s protest was reasonable.
Mayor Richard Zettervall said that he was “disappointed that there was no apparent effort to do anything in nearly a month, especially when the clock was ticking and this (abatement) process was moving forward.”
Councilor Martha McReynolds Jr. said she was “not moved by his appeal,” that there have not been changes made to the site and that she is still concerned with the asbestos in the heaps of material.
Council President Amy Knudsen said that she noticed the building was stripped of some materials that were thrown into a pile on the property since last month’s meeting. Amberg said the concern for asbestos is greater when those materials are mixed up in piles of debris, that it will make the abatement process more difficult.
“Since (Garton) started tearing everything apart, everything is now mixed in with the asbestos,” Amberg said.
Council unanimously decided on Monday that, despite Garton’s letter of protest, the nuisance still exists. Next steps were discussed, including getting warrants to step onto the property and hashing out further details with the judge.
Public Works Director Cliff Bellew has been in contact with businesses to remove the material on the property and is obtaining quotes, Amberg said.
“Most likely, when (the abatement) does occur (the city) may abate it and come back to council with the cost, and an adjustment will be required from the budget in order to pay,” for the abatement, Amberg said.



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