Burlington takes aim at Church St. ‘problem property’

Published: Sep. 22, 2023 at 5:58 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Burlington officials say they are taking action to shut down a Church Street rental property that has attracted vagrants and violence and that the mayor this week called the most problematic property in the city.

Officials say 184 Church Street will be the subject of a Housing Review Board meeting on Monday where the Certificate of Rental will be revoked.

“It means the property owner has not made the repairs that are required in the time we had provided,” said Bill Ward, the city’s director of permitting and inspections. He says he inspected the property in June and that when he returned in August there wasn’t much of a change. “We didn’t see anything had been corrected by the first follow up. We gave two more weeks and only a handful of things were corrected.”

The most recent inspection report from August 21 shows 46 deficiencies that were not corrected including crumbling walls and inadequate lighting.

The problems with drug use, violence, and vagrancy, prompted officials at the nearby Chittenden County Courthouse this week to put up a fence blocking off the property.

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger says he supports the suspension of the rental certificate even though he acknowledges it could mean more low-income people looking for housing in a tight housing market.

The Burlington Housing Authority, which subsidizes five of the tenants, is working to find them new homes due to the issues at the building.

The owner of the property, Charlie Handy, says the city is wrongly targeting him instead of addressing rampant drug use and homelessness on city streets. “We are doing the best we can to take care of the problem and the city, instead of working, fixing the problem, they are putting a Band-Aid on it, they are going around the problem,” he said.

The city hopes that Monday’s action will force Handy to make repairs. The city could also go to court and get the property put into the hands of a receiver until the improvements are made.

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Burlington property owners putting up fences to discourage vagrants, violence