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Vacant home upsets residents

This home, located at 33 MacLeod Dr., has been abandoned for more than 25 years. Residents in the neighbourhood would like to see the city address the issue.

JILLIAN AUSTIN/BRANDON SUN Enlarge Image

This home, located at 33 MacLeod Dr., has been abandoned for more than 25 years. Residents in the neighbourhood would like to see the city address the issue.

A home on MacLeod Drive has been abandoned for more than 25 years, and area residents say enough is enough.

Neighbours have witnessed vandalism, squatters and worry about their own property values.

"Kids have gotten in there a few times. We’re always concerned that someone is going to light it on fire," said Kathleen Kretai, who lives next door to the abandoned property. "We’ve had problems with mice in our garage."

Residents say they are confused as to why the home has been left vacant for so long, as people have shown interest in buying the property.

"If we ever wanted to sell, we’d have a lot of problems selling because of this empty house beside us," Kretai said.

Coun. Jan Chaboyer (Green Acres), who brought the issue up at a recent city council meeting, said several residents have voiced similar concerns.

"It’s a sad situation that this property has sat so long," she said.

"People in this neighbourhood have had to put up with this home beside them that is unoccupied, and I just don’t see in our existing bylaw … enough teeth or enforcement there to … get it to the next stage to force the property owner to do something with the property."

Chaboyer said she hopes by bringing the issue up to council, the absentee landlord will decide to be "reasonable and recognize that the people of Brandon want healthy, well-maintained neighbourhoods."

"It’s time to come up to the plate and deal with it."

Greg Merke, the city’s building safety manager, said the property has an "extensive history."

"We had issued orders on it on, I believe, at least three other occasions with no success," he said. "We had issues with rear deck, stairs … the yard was getting considerably overgrown."

Amendments were made to the vacant and derelict building bylaw about a year ago. If vacant standards aren’t met, the property owner must now get a boarded building permit.

A permit was issued for 33 MacLeod Dr., and according to Merke, the home was boarded up within the past few months. The cost of the permit was $2,000, and the fee increases annually by $1,500, in an effort to deter property owners from keeping it boarded up for too long.

The permit posted on the home’s front door was issued to Pat Pollock, but the Brandon Sun was unable to reach her for comment.

Merke said the property is in compliance with the bylaw, as they have met the requirements for the permit, which is an annual, renewable permit.

"I just think the cost of the increasing permit will be a deterrent to keep the property in that state, no matter what the property is," Merke said.

Merke told council recently that the property owner is "seriously looking at selling the property" due to the increasing costs.

"If the residents will be just a little more patient for a little longer, I think the bylaw will address the issue," he said.

Merke noted that since the city began using the amended bylaw, demolition permits increased by 57 per cent from 2008 to 2013.

Chaboyer would like the city to put an appropriate time limit in place for a property owner to reoccupy or fix up a building for the general health of the neighbourhood.

"It’s absurd to think that nothing can be done or has been done in that long time period," she said. "The city’s come a long way in beefing up and improving the bylaw for derelict buildings, but we still have a long way to go."

» jaustin@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @jillianaustin

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 18, 2014

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A home on MacLeod Drive has been abandoned for more than 25 years, and area residents say enough is enough.

Neighbours have witnessed vandalism, squatters and worry about their own property values.

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A home on MacLeod Drive has been abandoned for more than 25 years, and area residents say enough is enough.

Neighbours have witnessed vandalism, squatters and worry about their own property values.

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