Sherman will soon have two less substandard structures.
The Sherman City Council approved the demolition of the houses at 525 East Carter Street and 1108 East Lamar Street Monday under the city’s Substandard Structure Code.
“They’re both significantly substandard,” Community & Support Services Manager Nate Strauch said. “This is not anything borderline.”
In a document prepared for the council, city staff explained the two structures were deemed a nuisance to their neighborhoods, as well as dilapidated and/or unsafe, through a detailed inspection process. City staff said the abatement of the East Carter Street structure is expected to cost between $5,000 and $7,000, while the East Lamar Street structure should cost between $7,000 and $9,000 to tear down.
“What we have at the end of the project is not only that blight is abated, but we have a lot that is then ready to be sold and redeveloped,” Sherman City Manager Robby Hefton said. “So we clean off the lot, make it buildable and the property owner can sell it and we can put the tax dollars back on the books.”
Monday was the third time the council has considered the abatement of structures since revising Sherman’s substandard structure code in April 2016, and this was the first group of structures to be brought to the council since August 2016. As part of the city’s Substandard Structure Code, once properties are demolished, no lien is filed against the property, the property owners maintain ownership and there are no restrictions limiting who can build on it.
The city sent its first notice to the owners of the East Carter Street property in June 2016 offering to demolish the structure, which hasn’t had running water since July 2011. The owner wrote back requesting additional time to decide what to do with the property, but then died in March of last year. The last contact Sherman received from the owner’s family was in June of last year and a re-inspection in March of this year showed no signs of any improvement.
An initial inspection of the East Lamar Street house was also done in June 2016 and found the structure “collapsing” and the roof “rotted” and “decayed.” The house hasn’t had active water since February 2016 and a letter sent to the owners was returned to the city as “unclaimed and unable to forward.” City staff has received a number of complaint about the structure, including some that mentioned the possibility of “illegal activities” occurring on at the property.
“In the case of (the) East Lamar (property), in fact, it has become an attractive nuisance for criminal elements,” Strauch said. “In each of these cases it’s been over a year and a half that we tried to locate somebody who could give us an answer on what they’d have liked to do.”
Sherman made the changes to its Substandard Structure Code in an effort to streamline and accelerate its efforts in dealing with dilapidated and dangerous buildings. The demolition of vacant substandard structures is paid for through a combination of funds from the city budget and Community Development Block Grant funds received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
After the changes, the city demolished 22 substandard structures in 2016 and demolished more than 40 in 2017. So far, this year, Strauch said Sherman has removed 15 structures and expects to do seven more. Strauch said the city must wait a minimum of two weeks before beginning to tear down the structures, but expects the projects to be completed by the end of the summer.