Weaver can rebuild house

Published 6:58 am Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Gary Weaver can rebuild his burned historic home at 208 W. Division St. rather than have it demolished as a public nuisance, Dowagiac City Council decided Monday evening.

Weaver, through his attorney, Rebecca Sanford of St. Joseph, said he is going to own the property which burned Jan. 30 and currently is owned by a trust named for his father, Wilbur “Pete,” who died last July.

“The property was never formally deeded over,” she apprised the council. “Therefore, currently, there is an insurance claim for the structure and a different insurance claim for the contents, so we’re dealing with two adjusters and two insurance companies. That has been a difficulty as well as the fact that there are three brothers and two of them working on the claim.”

“We are asking that the council not consider this a public nuisance,” Sanford said.

Rather, “We have obtained a contractor and secured personal property, gotten (four) Dumpsters and inventoried. We anticipate being able to get an application for a building permit by the end of the week to start the reconstruction.

“The public hearing notice indicated that the cost of the rebuild is probably going to be larger than the policy limits. That’s true,” Sanford continued. “That’s often true in a situation like this. In addition, Mr. Weaver would like to expand and enclose the patio area, so there might be additional costs which have to come out of his pocket anyway. That’s where it stands right now.”

She added that some of the structure, including fascia, could be reused, which would “positively affect the costs, as well as keep the character of the historic building’s original architectural style. We have moved forward very quickly because this is urgent.”

Lyons tried to strike an “acceptable compromise,” offering 30 days to secure the building permit and six months to complete construction.

“The project is going forward regardless,” Sanford assured the mayor.

“We’re willing to work with you,” Lyons said, “but from our perspective we want to make certain of that fact.”

Councilman Jim Dodd, with his background in firefighting, recalled moving into his house in 1974 and the adjacent house burning two days later.

His daughter, then 11, developed allergies her doctor attributed to her bedroom facing it.

Between December and June, she was “downhill big time,” Dodd recalled.

As soon as the structure was razed, her health rebounded.

Sanford agreed.

“I’ve handled many fire cases and I’m aware of what you’re talking about. I’m sensitive to what you’re saying. It’s a definite health issue if it’s not done right.”

“I’d love to see the house restored because it’s historic,” Councilman Bob Schuur said. “I’m glad you’re giving them a chance.”