A years-long battle over how to handle a crumbling Main Street building concluded Wednesday with a judgment requiring the now-demolished building's former owner to pay the city of Mitchell $275,000.
The building that previously stood at the corner of Third Avenue and Main Street and was owned by David Finnell, of Scotland, was demolished in November, along with an adjacent building that housed Moody's Western Wear.
Removing the two Third and Main buildings cost a total of $317,836.17. Of that, $202.837 was for demolition and asbestos remediation, and the remaining $107,836.17 was put toward landfill fees. Following Wednesday's brief default hearing at the Davison County Courthouse, City Attorney Justin Johnson told The Daily Republic $275,000 was agreed upon as an estimate of the total cost for the project minus the cost of taking down the former Moody's building.
"It's nice to be at the end of the tunnel, and I think it'll be really good for the community to be able to move on and see how things develop from here," Johnson said.
The $275,000 default judgment concludes a civil case that was filed by the city against Finnell in June 2018. The city's original complaint asking for permission to raze the building and require repayment stated Finnell had been issued an order to correct nuisance conditions on his property on Oct. 31, 2017, and had not repaired the building, leading the city to close a section of Third Avenue for more than two years.
The complaint cited deteriorating walls, a partially unsupported roof, significant water damage and a number of holes and missing windows among the ways the building was not in compliance with city ordinances.
Last February, Mitchell Mayor Bob Everson said an agreement had been reached that would sell the building to the city for $1 in April 2019, with the city budgeting $500,000 for the building's demolition. Following an executive session a few days later, the city council voted 4-3 against the agreement.
A similar agreement was proposed in July but also was not enacted. Instead, the city rerouted the issue back to the court system and moved for a default judgment. That motion was approved in July with an order that authorized the city to move forward with demolition before determining the dollar amount Finnell would pay.
Finnell signed off on the agreement but was not present at Wednesday's hearing. He will be required to repay the city jointly and severally with his company, Finnell Properties LLC, which was also named as a defendant in the case. Johnson said there is no payment plan in place that would put Finnell's repayment on a deadline.
"That's going to be another hurdle that we've got to address going forward," Johnson said. "We know that Dave doesn't have a whole lot of assets, so that's going to be difficult, but he's done what he can in taking responsibility for it, and we certainly appreciate that."