City settles demolition case by giving woman house

YOUNGSTOWN — In a series of unusual moves, Youngstown demolished a residential structure despite a court order to not knock it down and settled the case with the homeless woman who filed it by giving her a different vacant house.

Jamie Cottle — along with her father, James Cottle Jr. — filed an injunction Oct. 17 in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, without the help of an attorney, to stop the city from demolishing 1522 Albert St.

Jamie Cottle said she was living in her car and was in the process of fixing up the house, including making improvements to its roof and foundation, when she learned it was on the list of residential properties to be demolished. During the two years she was living in her car, Cottle said she ran a power cord to her grandmother’s house at 1516 Albert St.

The court injunction to not have the city demolish 1522 Albert St. was granted last month.

“The same day I was in court the city demolished the house,” she said. “I got a call that told me they tore down my house. The city told me, ‘We’ve got to settle with you. Do you want money or a home?’ I said, ‘I want a home.'”

The city gave Cottle a list of six residential homes.

She said the only one worth accepting was 3011 Idlewood Ave.

“Some were missing furnaces or water tanks or had water damage,” Cottle said. “This house needs work, but I love it. There was so much left behind that when I came in it was like walking through a thrift store.”

The city’s board of control signed off on the settlement Thursday. The Cottles voluntarily dismissed the case after the city offered a different house on March 11.

The house at 1522 Albert St. was 1,400 square feet and built in 1900 with $1,135 in delinquent property taxes owed, according to the Mahoning County auditor’s website. The house was owned by Cottle’s father since Sept. 13, 2017, but was then transferred to her.

James Vivo, the city’s first assistant law director, said by the time Youngstown received word that Magistrate Timothy G. Welsh approved the injunction to stop the demolition, it was already taken down.

“The demo department was in the process of taking it down,” he said. “They agreed to take the house on Idlewood. They were satisfied with the resolution.”

The house at 3011 Idlewood Ave. is 1,664 square feet and was built in 1927, according to the county auditor’s website.

The city obtained ownership of the Idlewood house on Oct. 14, 2022, from the county land bank, which got it for no money on Aug. 30, 2022.

“It is vacant, and the plan is for them to rehab it,” Vivo said.

The Idlewood house has a value of $4,960, according to city records.

Despite the resolution, Mayor Jamael Tito Brown said: “This continues to happen. We notify people who own properties that are going to be demo’d and at the last minute they ask that it not be torn down — and that’s usually after we take it down.”

He added: “The citizens of those neighborhoods shouldn’t have to suffer for five to 10 years living with a house in that kind of condition.”

Cottle said: “I’m blessed to say I have a home now. That’s the good thing that came out of it. I’m not mad at the city for demolishing my house because they gave me another home. They messed up, but they fixed the problem.”

Have an interesting story? Contact David Skolnick by email at dskolnick@vindy.com. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @dskolnick.


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