Panel upholds dangerous building ruling
A panel of the City of Washington Building Committee Friday upheld building administrator Steve Donnolly’s ruling that the apartment building in the 300 block of North Marion Avenue in Washington, formerly Goncho Apartments, is a dangerous building.
The building was declared dangerous in January 2013, after a meth lab was discovered in one of the apartments. According to city code 145, if an inspection finds trace chemicals from a meth cook, the building can be declared unsafe for habitation. In January 2013, the tenants were given a short time to vacate the premises and told to leave all personal items in their apartments, because they could be contaminated. The building has been vacant since.
“I was in there for four hours cleaning up all the personal items and since that time we have been in and out of there numerous times, and shown no ill effects or any type of health issues,” said co-owner Lucas Miller.
Miller said that tenants had lived in the building for over a month after the lab was found and he is unaware of anyone having ill effects.
The panel was made up of council members Bob Shepherd, Bob Shellmyer and Planning & Zoning Commision member Deran DeLong. Cleanup of the meth in the building is estimated to cost about $25,000, and owners Elmer and Lucas Miller have 30 days to bring the building into compliance.
In January 2013, inspections found over 0.1 percent contamination from meth residue in five of the 16 apartments and in the commons area.
The Millers said they are still trying to determine what to do with the building. Lucas Miller said that the main possibility is to sell the building. He said there is a possibility of cleaning up the building and renting the apartments again.
“We will go and talk about it, decide what our options are, and once we discuss them, we will have to make a decision,” Lucas Miller said after he meeting. “I didn’t expect them to find it not dangerous. They have dealt with it standing empty for a year and they emptied it.”
Since the building was closed, some tenants have been able to retrieve items. The tenants who were renting the apartments that were not contaminated were the ones allowed to retrieve items.
DeLong said that the hearing was pretty “cut and dried” with the levels of meth found in the building.
The panel will provide Miller with a written ruling. If Miller wishes to appeal the decision further, he can ask the city council to hear arguments.
Washington is one of the few cities that has an ordinance declaring meth residue is a contaminant, and a building can be ruled dangerous as a result.
During a presentation on meth to the city council, Washington Police Chief Greg Goodman showed several articles detailing the health risks of meth residue.