Lawsuit puts demolition of blighted Meriden home on hold

Lawsuit puts demolition of blighted Meriden home on hold

reporter photo

MERIDEN — A last-minute injunction filed by the homeowner halted the demolition of one of the city’s most blighted properties.

”Had we gotten the notice two hours later most of the building would have been down,” said City Planner Bob Seale. 

The windows have been long boarded up at 11 Colony Place and the rear of the house appears close to collapse. Identified as one of the city’s worst blight cases, the house poses a hazard, Seale said. Emergency demolition orders were issued on July 21 after an inspection found the building was in danger of collapse. 

“The building is in imminent danger of collapse and needs to be razed within 10 days after receipt of this letter,” Building Official Don Angersola wrote in the notice. “If you are unwilling to comply the local building official may order the immediate demolition of this building at the owner’s expense.” 

Owner John Rutka disagrees. He filed a handwritten summons Sept. 11 appealing the demolition order. Rutka says he lived in the home until the city shut off water, “for no good reason.” He says most of his belongings are in the home.

After receiving the notice, Rutka says he removed a second story “hanging” wall “to eliminate any further hazard,” in addition to restudding the first floor wall. The rear portion the city says is in imminent danger of collapse “is nothing but an added non-bearing wall.”

On Oct. 20, the city was ready to take the building down when Rutka filed an injunction. It cites a series of “unfounded” violations issued by the city, and a court appeal to halt the demolition. 

“The house is loaded with valuable belongings, tools, furniture, some supplies, since I was ‘forced’ to move into a small subsidized apartment,” Rutka writes in the injunction.

A hearing is scheduled at Middlesex Superior Court on Nov. 13 at 9:30 a.m. 

Rutka could not be reached for comment for this article. 

Seale stated Rutka’s repairs on the property were not acceptable solutions to the structural deficiencies. A fence has been placed around the property to keep intruders out. Seale worried having the home weather another winter in its current condition would only create more of a hazard. 

“We’re doing the best we can to keep people safe,” Seale said. “Time and weather does not help anything.”

Twitter: @LeighTaussRJ

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