A judge’s contempt ruling Tuesday against the owner of 213 Broadway has cleared the way for demolition of the building.

A judge’s contempt ruling Tuesday against the owner of 213 Broadway has cleared the way for demolition of the building.

The ruling against Ron Richter of Pleasant Hill, Mo., was issued by Associate Circuit Judge David Mobley at the Marion County Courthouse in Hannibal.

“The judge ordered that we have the right to bolster Cindy Benjamin’s building (211 Broadway) and demolish his (Richter’s) building and that ultimately he (Richter) will bear the cost as they were bid out,” said James Lemon, city attorney.

The Hannibal City Council approved contracts for work on a pair of buildings in the 200 block of Broadway over two months ago. Century Used Brick has been hired to demolish 213 Broadway for a fee of $5,000. Before 213 Broadway can be torn down, 211 Broadway must first be stabilized. That work will be performed by River City Restorations, whose bid of $38,584 was accepted by the City Council in July.

It’s unclear now when the work might begin.

“I have no idea. That’s going to be a scheduling issue more than anything else. I’ve advised Joey (Burnham, building inspector) that as far as I’m concerned we’re legal to move forward at any time,” said Lemon.

At City Hall, Burnham echoed Lemon in saying he has “no idea” when the work on 211 Broadway will start. Burnham indicated he will be conferring with City Manager Jeff LaGarce and Mayor Roy Hark regarding a time line for work to begin.

This summer the Circuit Court issued an order giving Richter 10 days to begin repair on his 213 Broadway building, or to demolish the structure. The deadline passed without anything happening at the site.

After that, Lemon asked the court to find Richter in contempt and to issue a judgment that would allow the city to take care of the work and assess the cost to Richter.

The process was slowed in part because the city had difficulty getting court papers served to Richter.

During the July 2 City Council meeting the city attorney noted that this is the first time a common law nuisance approach has been utilized to completion in a circumstance such as this. In the past, “settlements” with property owners have been reached before the process could fully play itself out.

The judge’s ruling Tuesday has given Lemon a sense of relief.

“I feel a lot better that I don’t have this concern that that building is going to fall and somebody is going to get hurt,” he said. “While it’s not necessarily a good thing that we’re having to tear a building down, there is a certain sense of relief.”