City to consider amending demolition ordinance

Published 8:42 am Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The National Standard building may or may not be razed, pending a decision regarding an exception to the city's demolition ordinance.

The National Standard building may or may not be razed, pending a decision regarding an exception to the city’s demolition ordinance. Leader file photo

A compromise appears to be in the works between the City of Niles and the wire manufacturing company National Standard.

During a committee of the whole meeting Monday, City Administrator Ric Huff said National Standard intends to demolish buildings once utilized by the company in what is known as the “city complex.”

The structures are located between Wayne and Howard streets and 8th and 11th streets in north Niles.

While the company plans to raze the buildings, they would like to leave behind the concrete footings and slabs beneath them. However, that would violate the city’s demolition ordinance, which requires all substructures to be removed.

Huff said National Standard intends to place 18 to 24 inches of fill material over the area, plant grass seed and maintain the property. Residents would be allowed to use the space for non-formal activities, such as picnics and pick-up football games.

For this to happen, Huff said the city would have to amend its demolition ordinance. He asked the council for guidance.

Mayor Mike McCauslin said the decision would be a compromise.

“We are going to get something we want and they are going to get something they want,” he said. “Our goal is to do what we can when we can in the best interest of the community.”

Councilman David Mann called the project a positive step forward, adding that an unattractive structure would be removed.

“With this scenario, we will see the building torn down and some community use,” he said. “Even though it might not be our ideal situation, we are seeing improvement.”

Council members Gretchen Bertschy and Dan VandenHeede expressed concern that amending the ordinance for National Standard might cause others to expect the same treatment in the future.

VandenHeede also said the land could be redeveloped if National Standard is forced to remove the substructures and someday decides to sell the land.

Tom Moran, director of operations for National Standard, said that Heico — the parent company of National Standard — never intends to sell the property.

Councilman Scott Clark said he would like to help them “get rid of those nasty buildings.”

Huff said the city should be prepared to incur significant legal costs if they fight National Standard on the issue.

No action was taken Monday.

In other business, the council:

• Approved a 2-percent raise for city utilities workers, firefighters, police officers and non-union workers.

• Approved the sale of 1110 N. 6th St. in Niles to Pamela K. Morgan for $1 with the condition that the lot be combined with her current owned land.