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"Park-In" delays Eastmoreland home's demolition

Photo Credit: DAVID F. ASHTON - When demolition morning dawned, the bulldozer was confronted with a phalanx of cars, parked end-to-end down the block, preventing access. The developer was not pleased, but agreed to a one-week delay in his tear-down.When Renaissance Homes filed an application to demolish an Eastmoreland home at 3620 S.E. Rural Street and replace it with two narrower homes, the company had to file for a permit and post a notice. This entitled the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association to file for an additional 120 day extension before the house could come down – and according to ENA Board Member Kimberly Koehler, the paperwork to do so was obtained from Southeast Uplift and filed with the city, on the grounds that the property involved is shorter than is typical.

Then, however, on July 15th, the builder took advantage of what the ENA considers a “loophole” in the city code, set aside the 120 day delay, and prepared to demolish the house immediately.

Koehler explained for THE BEE, “The only mandatory notification requirement for residential demolitions was a reinterpretation of the code that says if a developer takes down ONE house and replaces it with TWO or more, he must post a 35-day Demolition Notification sign on the property. The code also allows neighborhood associations to file for a 120-day delay, which we did – by the deadline.

“So, the developer simply says, ‘I changed my mind. I only want to build ONE new house.’ The 120-day delay is thrown out, and the demolition proceeds with no notice to neighbors about the change of plans. Shameful.

“They refiled, and will build only one house. But this is an end-run – they will then add a permit for the second house. Randy Sebastian, owner of Renaissance Homes, said in front of everyone that he is building two houses, but building them one by one. He should have to wait to build that second house.” So, on Thursday morning, July 17, the demolition crew arrived to find vehicles parked all the way down the street in front of the home to be demolished, as news media, which had been notified by ENA of the plan the night before, covered the impasse.

Sebastian of Renaissance Homes shook hands with ENA President Robert McCulloch, saying the company would delay demolition by a week. McCulloch told him, “We’re not angry with you, but angry with the city which changed the rules and didn’t have the courtesy to tell us.”

This did not end the demolition plan, or the story. THE BEE will report what happened next in our September issue.