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Two properties declared public nuisances

Owners of a deteriorating house on Harbor Drive have 10 days to remove the nuisance. (City of Warrenton)
By Cindy Yingst, Friday, May 4, 2018

A former residence and a former business were declared public nuisances Tuesday night in the city’s ongoing crusade against blight.

Owners of the long-abandoned blue house at 925 E. Harbor Drive and a former gas station at 238 S. Main Ave. have 10 days to clear their properties or face further city intervention.

“This has been five years and we’re finally doing something,” Mark Baldwin said in urging his fellow commissioners to act after Mayor Pro Tem Rick Newton suggested the business owner may only need prodding instead of such severe legal action.

Prodding was done the last time he was on the commission, Baldwin said, and the property directly across from City Hall remained a mess. “So if we wait, are we going to wait another five years?”

Commissioner Tom Dyer spent much of the prior week helping the former tenant remove old engines, batteries, metal drums and vehicles off the property, an effort lauded by fellow commissioners.

“Any time we can get an amicable resolution, that should be our goal,” Mayor Henry Balensifer said. “I believe we need to go through the official process to make sure everything’s followed through.”

Both properties are front and center on the city’s main entryways.

The former gas station is on the main drag, an area targeted for beautification in the coming fiscal year. The property is owned by the Alice Ann Codd Trust.

Visitors headed to Fort Stevens and other camping areas pass right by the dilapidated blue house. The house was built in 1885 and the property was sold in 2014 to Thompson Harbor Drive Rentals LLC and Heather Renee Wass doing business as America’s Best Storage, according to county records.

Nearly all cities, including Warrenton, have laws on the books that allow them to declare a nuisance of any property that could affect public health and safety.

Abandoned houses, for instance, can attract teenagers and transients. Unsecured engines and other equipment seem to children like fun things to climb on. Metal drums filled with oils and other substances can be environmentally hazardous.

The municipal code prohibits scattering rubbish on public or private property and anything that mars the appearance, creates a stench or fire hazard, detracts from cleanliness or safety or would be likely to injure a person, animal or vehicle.

Both nuisance votes were unanimous, with Commissioner Pam Ackley absent.

Letters notifying all property owners of the potential vote were sent by certified mail on April 10. Warrenton Police Department posted notices on the sites on April 16.

Owners now have 10 days to remove the nuisance. If that doesn’t happen, the city can choose to do the cleanup and would place a lien on the properties for the cost of the cleanup.

Old vehicles, tires and other auto debris little the former gas station across from City Hall. The owner was given 10 days to clean it up. (City of Warrenton)

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