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Harrison Township

Sale on burned-out house stalled, re-started

November 15, 2012

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This burned home on Cloverleaf Street in Harrison Township may be coming down much sooner than expected, now that a demolition permit has been applied for, township officials said.

HARRISON TOWNSHIP — It was originally hoped that the fire-damaged home on Cloverleaf Street in Harrison Township would be gone by now. But a couple of unexpected setbacks stalled the much-anticipated demolition of what neighboring residents say is not only an eyesore, but a potential death trap.

Now, it appears, work toward improving the neighborhood following a July 8 blaze that destroyed the two-story home and killed a house cat is once again moving forward.

Harrison Township Supervisor Kenneth Verkest said building officials received word last week that the house and property had indeed been sold for a mere $16,000, and the buyer has already filed paperwork to close off the utilities to the home and finally bring in the bulldozers.

“There were circumstances that occurred that required patience,” said Verkest. “(The township) does not want to delay this process.”

Specifically, the former owner of the home and property, a man in his 30s, had let his homeowner’s insurance lapse and was eventually unable to afford to pay for demolition, himself.

“He had offered to give it (the house) to the township so we could demolish it,” said Verkest.

But Township Attorney Robert Huth said it was unlawful for a government body to take a property in such a manner.

Later, an unknown individual had expressed interest in purchasing the property for demolition and reconstruction, and the township did receive paperwork on the sale, but it eventually fell through. Later, Verkest said a few neighboring residents offered to pool their resources and purchase the property to build a new home, but FEMA rules do not allow someone to simply buy a property and re-build atop the foundation. Verkest said the potential plan would have to be to reconstruct the entire site, including the foundation, at or above the current flood plain. The property would no longer be grandfathered in.

“All that did was delay the process,” Verkest said.

According to a Macomb County fire investigator, the early-morning blaze originated in the living room of the home, caused by a cigarette that had not been properly extinguished in an ashtray. The owner was forced to exit through a second-story window, but was not injured, though his cat died in the fire.

But now that all the required paperwork has been filed, it will still take some time before work can begin.

“Unfortunately, this can take a lot of time because there are many steps to take, and
you can’t skip them,” said Verkest.

On the bright side, the permit for demolition expires after 60 days, but township
officials asked the new property owner to complete work within 30 days.
Call Staff Writer Julie Snyder at (586) 498-1039.

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