Just when the city of Mitchell worked out a compromise with the property owner of a corroding Third Avenue and Main Street building, the Mitchell City Council tabled the agreement Monday due to recent developments.
City Attorney Justin Johnson advised the council to make a motion to table the agreement with David Finnell, the property owner of 301 N. Main St., citing recent developments that Johnson was unable to specify publicly to the council.
"I'll ask that the council table this, because there are a couple of things we need to address that came up recently," Johnson said to the council.
Under the proposed tabled agreement, the city would pay for Finnell to work with a contractor to demolish the corroding building before the property is transferred from Finnell to the city. Instead of a repayment plan, Finnell would be agreeing to a judgment at the outset instead of upon default of a payment plan.
In addition, the agreement outlines Finnell’s requirement to work with a contractor to demolish nuisance structures on the property as soon as possible, and Finnell would have to make sure the demolition company he chooses obtains a proper demolition permit. In relation to other nearby structures that could be potentially damaged during demolition, the agreement specifies the city would not be held responsible.
Once the demolition is completed, Finnell and his company known as Finnell Properties LLC -- which he transferred the building to after the city filed a civil suit against him as the owner, and the LLC was added to the suit as a defendant — would convey the property to the city for a $1 general warranty deed. Finnell will also be required to pay the city $2,841.20 in property taxes owed through June 30 and a Business Improvement District tax.
Upon Johnson informing the council of the recent developments, the owner of the neighboring business and property voiced her concerns of the proposed agreement.
Diane Moody, co-owner of Moody’s Western Wear, said she doesn’t support an area of the agreement, which specifies the city not being held responsible for nearby structures damaged in the demolition process. Given her neighboring business could be one of the nearby structures damaged during demolition, Moody said she is fearful of a scenario that causes significant damage to her property.
“We all know that man will never pay that money back in his lifetime, and I think we have the right to know what’s going on,” Moody said. “We share a common wall that will probably not be able to stand after the demolition.”
Mitchell Mayor Bob Everson said if the building would fall into Moody’s property, Finnell would need to have a contractor with proper insurance to help cover the damages.
“He owns the building, so I can’t say whether he can find a contractor. This is how we’re trying to hold his feet to the fire on it, and this is the only way we could do that,” Everson said. “It’s not the best scenario we could find, but it’s about the only answer we could find.”
In addition, Moody said she doesn't have confidence that he’ll pay the city back for the demolition of the building.
Moody noted she’s been forced to change her insurance for the building twice in the past two years due to Finnell’s dilapidated building.
“We’ve been open for over 20 years, and we are likely going to lose our business,” Moody said. “I’m trying to run a business, and not knowing where this is all at is very hard to deal with.”