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Property owner looking to stop home demolition

NILES — A house demolition slated for next week has been delayed following a request for an injunction filed by the property owner.

Marie Seifer, the owner of 21 Russell Ave., filed the action on Jan. 14 and Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Ronald J. Rice is assigned the case.

The house was one of the scheduled demolitions through the Niles Citywide Demolition Program. The program was created as part of an initiative to remove blight from the city.

Mayor Steve Mientkiewicz said the house has been an issue for a couple of years and there was an order to comply to city code.

“Demolition was recommended to the Niles Housing Appeals Board last year. The property owner did not attend the meeting or appeal to the board,” Mientkiewicz said.

Seifer will be representing herself in the case. According to an affidavit, Seifer said she “will submit plans and proposals to pay delinquent real estate taxes and restore the dwelling structures and property to city code compliance.”

Mientkiewicz said the lawsuit is a last-ditch effort to save the property. He said Seifer has made no indication of cleaning up the property in the past.

Efforts to reach Seifer for comment were unsuccessful — a voicemail box was full.

PROPERTY ISSUES

According to city housing inspector Jeff Crowley, the property was transferred to Seifer from Fred Shanower in 2018. Crowley said when Shanower owned the proprty, it already had code violations.

Once the property was transferred, Crowley said he started working with Seifer and he had her in court in 2018 and again in 2019. She didn’t show up, so the house then was condemned in March 2019.

A city housing board meeting was held Oct. 10, 2020, and Seifer was invited by certified mail to present her case because the house was on the agenda for demolition. Crowley said also she did not attend that meeting.

Crowley and the Trumbull County Auditor’s office state that Seifer owes $3,215 in back taxes.

According to Crowley, the house has been vacant and the utilities have been turned off since 2017.

MOVING FORWARD

Mientkiewicz said the next step for the city is working with the judge.

Crowley said if the home can be salvaged, he’s all for it.

“I want to see the house salvaged — I absolutely want that,” he said.

As for the legal side, the city’s law department is reviewing the filing, and the plan is to continue forward until the court says otherwise.

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