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Broomfield neighborhood residents say they're tired of looking at house damaged by fire 1 year ago

Problem not covered by nuisance ordinance
Posted at 11:56 PM, Apr 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-22 08:42:56-04

BROOMFIELD, Colo. — Imagine looking out your living room window at a fire-damaged house across the street, for an entire year. That's what residents on Newton Street, near W. 124th Avenue in Broomfield, have been coping with.

"It's horrible to look at," said Jason McMillin, a resident in the area. "Sometimes, you can still smell it too."

The house went into foreclosure five years ago, and the utilities were shut off, but the inhabitants didn't leave.

"They needed electricity in the house, so they would run a generator in the back yard," said neighbor Rich Stebbins, Jr. "They were, more or less, squatting."

When neighbors complained about the generator's noise, the inhabitants built a wooden shed to help muffle the sound, he said.

"(The shed) caught fire and the fire spread to the house," McMillin said.

Stebbins was home cooking in his back yard on April 19, 2018 when he noticed emergency vehicles roaring up the street.

"I thought maybe I'd done something wrong," he said. "Then I turned around and saw this great big blaze in the house behind me."

He said he reached for his cell phone and began recording the flames.

The blaze gutted the garage and heavily damaged the north side of the home.

Stebbins said there was an explosion and that debris hurled through the air damaged one nearby home. The flames damaged another.

Broomfield's building inspector posted the property as uninhabitable, but the inhabitants apparently continued to live there, until the city contacted the owner, Deutsche Bank, which then began eviction proceedings.

The heavily damaged, unoccupied home has been vacant since last summer and now, neighbors are getting antsy.

Stebbins said he and several other neighbors have spent a lot of time and effort sprucing up their own homes, while the eyesore sits unchanged next door.

Some have complained to city council.

Now, two council members want to see if Broomfield can encourage Deutsche Bank to repair or demolish the house.

They apparently can't use the nuisance ordinance.

"Staff has indicated that the house does not meet the criteria specified in the Nuisance Property Ordinance," said Councilwoman Elizabeth Law-Evans. "If this house doesn't meet the criteria, we would respectfully suggest that we need to revise our criteria."

At best, the house is an eyesore, she said. It drags down neighborhood property values.

"At worst it's a danger and hazard," she said.

Broomfield City and County Manager Charles Ozaki filed a Request for Future Action Item to review the Nuisance Property Ordinance.

Council may discuss that item during their regular council meeting on Tuesday, April 23.