Three buildings on Flax Street will be demolished after the city of Delaware’s Board of Zoning Appeals denied an appeal for an extension to make continued repairs to the property.
The BZA went against city staff’s recommendation to grant an extension to the end of June to have upgrades completed at 15 Flax. The three buildings sit on 3.61 acres on the north side of Flax northwest of Milo Street and near the river. It is zoned as a light manufacturing district. The buildings may be a century old and were once a factory, but had been vacant for years.
Planning and zoning administrator Lance Schultz said the owners, Yoav and Schlomo Botach of Los Angeles, had acquired some of the permits for work to be done, causing the meeting to be delayed from January to March 9. Schultz said that some general maintenance and grass cutting had also been done.
However, the work was to have been completed by the end of 2015, the BZA had said at its previous meeting last June. In addition, the owner needed to provide a monthly progress report and completion status, and did neither.
“Obviously, the owner has not met their committed obligations on the Flax Street property improvement plan that they submitted and agreed to last year,” Schultz said at the BZA meeting on March 9. “However, because the owner has made some progress, albeit minimal and inconsistent, staff reluctantly recommends an extension to June 30, 2016, to have all the work completed.”
“We understand it’s not completed,” said Scott Gordon, representing the property owners. “We don’t believe it constitutes a public nuisance.”
Behzad Vedai, a Columbus-based engineer representing the owners, said the site had been cleaned up, doors have been painted, and roof and gutters repaired.
“We have tried really hard to meet the requirements,” Vedai said.
“Everything they’ve done, I could do in a day,” James Mardis, a resident of Flax Street, told the BZA. “It’s not fit for apartments. It’s still a mess, and I’d like to see it out the door.”
Diana Longworth, a Flax Street resident, said the owners had bought the property 10 years ago, and “it’s been a nightmare” of broken glass and people loitering in the area ever since.
“It’s an eyesore,” Longworth said. “They (the owners) just keep dragging their feet. That’s not fair to the Delaware people.”
Building official Jerry Warner said the repairs to the three buildings have been “extremely slow.” The buildings have had numerous maintenance code violations, as well as dozens of police and fire runs in the past.
Before the BZA vote, Warner said the buildings are condemned and not fit for habitation.
“I don’t think they want put all the money into it. I’ve not seen the effort,” Warner said. “It looks better, not having people in it like we had, but the buildings themselves aren’t getting anywhere quickly to make it viable.”
Board members commented that the work that had been done was cosmetic and not even half-completed, and the owners went past the final deadline the BZA had granted them.
“This is an effort in futility,” said one BZA member before the motion was made to deny the appeal.
The BZA did not know when demolition would take place. Longworth said she hoped it wouldn’t take another 10 years.