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Derelict property falls into Village of Granisle hands

Owners do have one year to pay back taxes, interest
Village of Granisle could end up as owner of derelict mini-mall. (File photo)

Village of Granisle residents have become reluctant owners of a large derelict property — the former commercial centre at 82 Hagan St.

Ownership transferred to the village this year when the property’s owners failed to pay the property taxes and interest for three years and when no one entered a bid during the September tax sale period.

“The Village of Granisle received the property at tax sale. At this time the owner has one year to redeem it,” said village chief administrative officer Sharon Smith.

The one-year redemption period allows for an owner to regain control by paying all monies owed. Failing that, the property ownership will transfer to the village.

With ownership, at least for now, in the village’s hands, it continues to wrestle with the problem of what to do with the derelict property that was once a thriving commercial centre for the village.

It’s been in a state of disrepair for years and successive owners have ignored village calls to either repair, remediate or demolish the structures.

Leading up to the tax sale, the village had issued a demolition order such that either the property owner would carry out the task or the village would and then bill the property owners.

That hit a snag with the discovery of asbestos within the buildings, leading to the village looking for a company to remove the material prior to moving ahead with any plan for demolition.

A remediation company has yet to be hired, said Smith.

“We are following up with legal counsel for advice as to recommendations and what we are allowed to do during this upcoming year,” she added.

“The village is being cautious as we do not want to incur additional costs at this point.”

The village’s attempts to deal with the property have been complicated owing to the failure of the owner to respond to attempts to communicate.

Once a shopping hub in Granisle, the mini-mall complex began to fall into disrepair as businesses closed, beginning a years long struggle by the village to have the owners either make repairs or remove the buildings.

Last year, with all attempts having failed to have the owners voluntarily comply, the village issued a notice giving the owners 90 days to first apply for a demolition permit, to have one issued and then to carry out the work followed by cleaning up waste, debris and discarded material.

The village was aided by a building inspection carried out by a Smithers company which assembled a long list of repairs needed for each building ranging from replacing deteriorated concrete blocks to replacing membranes on roofs to prevent further leaks.

But village staffers looked at the assessed values of the buildings and in a memo to council as part of a lengthy package of information concluded “estimates of the cost of repairing the buildings far exceed the assessed value of the buildings.”

And as part of the council motion to order the owner to demolish the structures, it declared “the buildings to be a nuisance …. because the buildings are so dilapidated and unclean so as to be offensive to the community.”

“No action has been taken to suggest that the owner will repair, renovate and use either of the buildings in the future,” part of an information package to council at the time stated.

Under the Community Charter which governs local governments, the village can take the structures down and then add the bill to the owners’ property taxes.

About the Author: Rod Link

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