The most conspicuous derelict house in downtown Shelton is gone.
Last week, City of Shelton employees from the public works and community development departments, police and private companies filled five dump truckloads of trash and debris, removed four junk vehicles and asbestos, and demolished the structure at 1411 West Railroad Ave.
It was the beginning of the end of a code enforcement case that started last year. Along with being an eyesore, the property was the scene of a SWAT raid this year that further upended the property during an unsuccessful search for a man accused of domestic violence.
The property is on the city's Western Gateway off U.S. Highway 101.
"This was very visible on the main drag into town," Jae Hill, the city's director of community and economic development, told the Journal in an interview.
Neighbors were asking why it was taking so long for the city to address the property.
"We were getting a lot of complaints - 'Why can't you clean it up?' " Hill said.
Hill said the city wants to ensure it respected the rights of the property owner.
"We didn't want to make any mistakes," he said. "This is someone's property we're talking about."
In a news release, the city states that the primary goal of code enforcement is to achieve voluntary compliance with any property owner. The vast majority of code enforcement cases are resolved in the early stages of a complaint, the city wrote.
In this case, the city sent courtesy notices by certified mail to the property owner asking for code compliance, followed by notices of violations and citations, the city reports. Those correspondences and others were returned as undeliverable because the registered post office box had expired.
The city states the limited liability company that owned the property had been dissolved due to inactivity and the property taxes hadn't been paid for more than 1½ years.
Hill requested an abatement order, and the city's hearing examiner sustained the order in November. The property owners, though unreachable, had 10 days to comply. After the closure of the 30-day appeal process, the city could start the work. The city will file a lien on the property to recover the expenses in abating and remediating the site.
During the massive cleanup last week, "The next-door neighbor did a little dance," Hill said.
The city is working to stabilize the soil on the site so it doesn't run into nearby Goldsborough Creek, Hill said.
The city will list the property for sale, and the buyer will pay the cleanup and legal fees, Hill said. The city has budgeted $80,000 for 2024 to abate hazardous structures and nuisances, he said.