Routt County plans legal action to make derelict home disappear from Whitecotton
Routt County officials have lost patience with a rural property owner whose partially completed home has been an eyesore and, they say, a dangerous building for more than a decade in the Whitecotton subdivision 9.4 miles south of Steamboat Springs.
The Board of County Commissioners agreed unanimously July 25 to authorize County Attorney Erick Knaus to pursue legal remedies against a Fort Collins man, Kevin Murnane, who has not responded to recent efforts to contact him and compel him to remove the nuisance structure from his property in the bucolic Whitecotton neighborhood. Murnane pulled his first building permit for his new home 16 years ago.
Commissioner Doug Monger agreed with fellow commissioners Cari Hermacinski and Tim Corrigan, but also expressed some reservations.
“I take this very seriously,” Monger said. “I’m going to vote for the motion, but we would have to be trespassing to be in a dangerous situation,” on Murnane’s property.
But Knaus told commissioners Tuesday that administrative means of compelling Murnane to correct the situation have been exhausted.
“The issues with this property date back, to my knowledge, to 2015,” Knaus said Tuesday. “The owner agreed to take care of it with the demolition or partial demolition (of the hull of the building), which did not come to fruition. Since then, the contacts were re-established to some degree, but he has not responded,” to recent letters. “We’re now at the point that all of the administrative proceedings haves proved unfruitful. It’s time to go to the next level.”
As recently as June 5, Assistant County Manager Dan Weinheimer, acting as interim building official, called on Murnane by certified and regular mail to demolish the structure and remove all debris by July 1. At the same time, he threatened the property owner with a variety of penalties — ranging from fines of between $500 and $1,000 for each day he continues to fail to comply to with the county’s demand — to jail time.
Citing the building code, Weinheimer wrote: “I find that the structure violates the 1997 Uniform Code for the Abatement of Dangerous Buildings (which includes) any building or structure which has any or all of the conditions or defects existing to the extent that the life, health, property or safety of the public or its occupants are endangered.”
The letter met with no response.
According to county records, Murnane first acquired a building permit from the county to build a home at 27670 Whitecotton Lane in 2001, in the neighborhood where homes are widely spaced and a number of residents have horse barns and small ponds to catch the spring snowmelt.
Murnane, broke ground on the home, but what remains standing on the building site in 2017 is a low-slung, drab grey first story, topped by vertical structural steel columns that have been waiting for walls and a roof ever since. The original building permit expired, but Murnane succeeded in renewing it in 2009, with little to show for it.
In the meantime, his neighbors are still waiting for resolution.
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