Pending agreement for Burlington problem property

Published: Sep. 25, 2023 at 3:44 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 26, 2023 at 8:44 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - An agreement is pending on the future of a problem property in Burlington at 184 Church Street.

The Housing Review Board met Monday night to decide whether to suspend the rental certificate over failure to correct housing standard violations, but the city and property owners came to an agreement before the meeting.

The board approved a two-week deferral to give both the city and property owners time to pull together their agreement.

The agreement allows 30 days for all tenants of 184 Church Street to move out of the building. The property will then be renovated and brought up to code after the tenants have left which the city says could take up to a year.

After that time, the property will be available for rent again.

Bill Ward, the director of permitting and inspections in Burlington, says he thinks the renovations will help the extensive problems with violence and rampant drug use at the property.

“I feel that part of that management plan that we would agree to would need to have some assurances for that. But also have some checks and balances. We’d ask that we’d have the ability to independently check the building, which would be something I would take on myself,” Ward said.

In a letter to the Handys, who own the building, the city says a June inspection found 46 deficiencies which were supposed to be corrected by early August. They say that didn’t happen and after a late August follow-up, 39 deficiencies still remained.

In a letter to tenants, the city says if the board determines the tenants in the 17 units need to be relocated from the building, it will be up to the Handys to pay for relocation costs.

Five of the 17 units are already vacant. Eight or nine units could be vacated once the 30 days start with the help of the property manager.

There are three tenants who have court-ordered evictions. If those get overturned, there would need to be steps in the management plan for those people since they would not be allowed back on the property.

Anyone else who does not voluntarily vacate by the end of the 30 days will be evicted.

The hearing for the finalized agreement and the board’s vote will be held virtually on Oct. 10 and 6 p.m.

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