What Does It Take To Demolish A House?

A condemned property on the first block of East Second Street in Howell. (Photo courtesy of Patricia Donovan)

HOWELL – A house in the first block of East Second Street is awaiting demolition after being in a state of outward disrepair for the past three years.

A condemned property on the first block of East Second Street in Howell. (Photo courtesy of Patricia Donovan)

Patricia Donovan can see the crumbling property from her backyard. She began filing complaints with the township in the summer of 2016, but was told there was no money left in the budget to demolish the house.

The township has since taken ownership of the property, but it still (barely) stands. Donovan said the situation is so bad that the Mosquito Commission will not even go on the property. In one photo shared with The Howell Times, a raccoon is seen peering at the camera from inside the house.

Frustrated, Donovan started coming to town council meetings this year in hopes of expediting the situation. At the most recent meeting, she brought an oversized photo that highlighted just one view of the disrepair.

Photo courtesy of Patricia Donovan

“As you can see, the two buildings in the back have totally fallen down,” she told councilmembers during a public hearing.

Township Manager Jeffrey Mayfield confirmed that the demolition is moving forward and that a demolition company has been chosen, but to Donovan’s dismay, he could not confirm a timeline.

The issue brings up a larger question of what exactly goes into the demolition process. It’s a process, Donovan knows a lot about. As president of Permit Solutions, Inc., a business she started in 2008, she helps clients navigate the state’s complex permit process for their construction projects. Her client list spans the tri state area, but also includes local development projects like MedExpress of Howell.

Photo courtesy of Patricia Donovan

She said the standard Uniform Construction Code (UCC) requirements for a demolition involve things like demolition letters, asbestos clearing, utility disconnection and rodent extermination. In this case, cats and kittens that access the house through broken windows also need to be removed by Animal Control.

While Donovan understands better than most that there is a process for this kind of project, she also pointed out that councilmembers would certainly not want the eyesore in their own backyards. Her expertise says that it should only take about a month after a contract is signed with the demolition company, but only time will tell.

“I’ll be back every meeting with a new picture until they get this done right,” she said.