A public hearing regarding the status of the old Maryland Hotel in downtown Hannibal is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday, April 2, at city hall. The hearing will coincide with the Building Commission’s next meeting.
According to a public notice regarding the hearing, the property’s owners, Jim and Sheryl Love of California, will be asked to appear and explain why work has not begun to either recondition or demolish the building, which has been declared a public nuisance by the city.
Whether the Loves received the notice is anybody’s guess. Tina Bartz, management assistant in the city’s public works department, has not received notification that the certified letter, sent Feb. 15, has been delivered.
Regardless of whether the Loves are in attendance, the Building Commission intends to go forward with the hearing and follow protocol in matters such as this.
“This gives the Building Commission the right to, after the hearing, put it on the pending demo list or take further action,” said Bartz.
At the Building Commission’s February meeting, City Attorney James Lemon advised against placing the structure on the city’s to-be-demolished list.
“That would probably not be appropriate. It is certainly appropriate to give those folks notice and have a public hearing,” he said. “Since we’ve elected to use the civil process which is circuit court, I think we need to go ahead and let that run its course.”
Late last year Lemon filed in state court an action against the Loves for maintaining a public nuisance.
Lemon says placing the building on the pending demolition list could weaken the city’s case in court.
“The benefit of the circuit court is that you have a property owner that has the ability or potential ability to make repairs and just isn’t doing it because they don’t want to do it, so they are refusing to do it,” he said. “What we would hope the judge would do is order them to demo it or do whatever is necessary to abate the nuisance. If they did not then we would go back to the judge and ask for an order of contempt. The judge would then allow us to demo it and give us a monetary judgment against them. Then we could sell it on the courthouse steps to recoup the lien.”
The city attorney added that if the city chose to sell the property to enforce the judgment lien, the lien could be attached to any property owned by the Loves, regardless of if it is in another county or state.