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City puts lien on local resident’s property to cover demolition costs

Published: October 24, 2013, 7:22 pm, by Monica Mendoza

For the first time in years, the city of Colorado Springs has put a lien on local resident’s property.

Colorado Springs City Council says resident Mark Cunningham owes the city $38,371.36 for the demolition of his house at 1726 W. Colorado Ave.

In 2008, the house was damaged by fire. In 2010, the city began what would become a three-year process asking the owner to make repairs to the house or the city would demolish it. The burned structure was in violation of the city’s building code. It was unsafe, the city said.

Nothing was done, according to the Regional Building Department. A long list of correspondents, affidavits and warrants followed.

In March, the city demolished the house. It cost $30,000 and the owner never paid. Now, with penalties, the city wants $38,371.

City Council had a public hearing on the matter this week. No one representing the property owner spoke.

But it just didn’t seem right to council member Helen Collins. She voted against the lien saying she objects to the city being able to demolish someone’s private property in the first place. Council member Joel Miller also voted no.

“I have a problem with this,” Collins said. “Where does city council have the authority to put a lien on a person’s property?”

The city’s deputy attorney Wynetta Massey said the city made every effort to contact and work with the owner and give the owner the opportunity to appeal. The owner never appealed, she said.

“We are trying to recover the costs so that the taxpayers don’t bear the burden of this property,” Massey said.