City unable to demolish dilapidated home

City unable to demolish dilapidated home
Roof falling close to neighbor's fence (Source KSWO)
Roof falling close to neighbor's fence (Source KSWO)
(Source KSWO)
(Source KSWO)

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - An abandoned house on Lawton's west side is falling apart, and in spite of complaints from neighbors, the city says it is unable to tear it down. The home just off Cache Road and Northwest 73rd Street has been rundown for three years. The neighbors all have filed complaints with neighborhood services. They complain about the tall grass, frequent trespassers, and half the roof that seems to be sliding right off the home.

But the city says there is almost nothing they can do because the fate of the home is tied up in court.

According to neighborhood services, the best thing for that house, is to be torn down. They even ruled it as dilapidated and dangerous. But unlike most other buildings in similar condition, the city can't touch it. This property is in foreclosure, and the owner filed an injunction in court in December. So now neighbors are fed up.

"I don't even know how to feel," said neighbor Randy Wolfe "It's just like I'm at my end, I don't know what to do."

Wolfe points out the damage that closes in, mere inches away from his fence.

"This part that you see falling down is an extension on to the roof," said Wolfe. "Some of the polls are falling, some of the roof is caving down."

Wolfe says the homeowner sent a crew to replace the roof in 2013 after the last renters moved out. Only half of it was removed, and the crew never came back.

He says the doors and windows are all open, and they have trespassers often.

"It's always concerning that someone has been there and you didn't even know," said Wolfe.

Neighborhood Services Director Joshua Leech found more than 100 complaints dating back to 2004.

He also says because of the legal action going on, their only option is to offer the mortgage company a discount deal in demolition, and hope the homeowners and the judge agree with it in court.

"If the judge does not agree it will sit in litigation until both parties, the homeowner and the mortgage company, not the city, comes to an agreement," said Leech.

Wolfe says he hopes they can work that agreement out, and sooner would be better than later.

"Who knows what happened in the future," says Wolfe. "In the future I may be trying to sell, and I can't sell because this is right next door to my house."

Leech says owners of homes that are deemed dilapidated and dangerous can file for a rehab permit with the city to allow them six months to a year to clean the place up. He says this owner did not do that with this property.

The department director says if anyone in Lawton has a complaint about an abandoned house in disrepair, to call at 580-581-3467 or you can contact someone from neighborhood services in person at city hall.

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