Structure was built in 1910
The demolition of a small building on North Street in Hannibal may not be as imminent as it was once thought to be.
The building at 200 North St., which has been owned by Clarence and Ada Jo Bode since 1974, was to have been demolished by city forces sometime during mid July. However, the Courier-Post has learned that the city will not begin any work at the site until the Historic District Development Commission (HDDC) has a chance to at least discuss the owners' plans to have the structure torn down. The small North Street shop was to have been an agenda item when the HDDC met on June 25. However, that meeting did not occur for lack of a quorum.
The HDDC is now scheduled to meet at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, July 9, in Council Chambers at Hannibal City Hall. The North Street building continues to appear on the meeting agenda that is posted at City Hall.
According to City Attorney James Lemon, the HDDC can impact the future of the building, which was erected in 1910.
"The HDDC has the authority to deny a demolition permit. They also have the authority to deny a construction, or reconstruction permit," he said. "They do not, however, have some injunctive power to force the property owner to take particular action such as repairing, rebuilding or selling the property."
Must the HDDC sign off on all demolitions that take place in the designated district in which that commission has authority?
"They have to approve everything which is done per permit," said Lemon. "If it is a private individual doing a demolition, yes, they would have to do it because that individual would have to apply for a demolition permit. If it is the city doing the demolition, no."
Because the city is planning to bring down the Bode building is the HDDC's approval necessary?
"There is no approval technically of the HDDC required. Now I'm not saying the city would not potentially give them input on it or make sure they were OK with it," said Lemon. "A board which is working for the city does not have the authority to refuse to allow the city to take a particular action. They don't have some power that overrides the city's power."
Lemon suggests that a potential solution to local concerns over the 200 North St. building might have already occurred in a community just west of Hannibal.
"I know when 'The Wedge' in Monroe City was scheduled for demolition, a group of local community members purchased it and committed to make repairs to restore it," said the city attorney. "I wonder if the concerned citizens in this case had considered that option? It would seem to be appropriate under the circumstance. Perhaps they should make some offer to the property owners."
According to Lyndon Bode, the son of Clarence and Ada Jo, his parents are not looking to sell the site, which is located at the foot of Cardiff Hill, next to the steps that lead up to the lighthouse.
"The goal is she (Ada Jo) wants to keep the property and have it as a green space," said Bode last month. "She wants to keep it for her two granddaughters to have. They are young now, but if they want to do something in the future they would have that piece of ground in the tourism area to rebuild upon."
The structure is one that is in decline. It first came before the city's Building Commission in May of this year after members of the Historic Hannibal Marketing Council expressed concern over the building's condition.
While Joey Burnham, city building inspector, declined to provide an on-the-record assessment of the building's current condition, Bode has acknowledged that significant structural issues exist.
"Basically the floors are giving out, the walls are close to giving out and the roof is just about done, too. There is a lot of leakage," he said. "In talking to Joey Burnham with the city, something needed to be done. Whether it was a complete renovation, or taking the building down. It is an old wood structure whose time has come is the best way you can say it."
Lemon suggests that the building's condition could force the city into taking action.
"Ultimately, if the structure is unsafe, considering the numbers of people that are near that building on a daily basis, the city really has no option but to demolish it, unless a third party steps up and stabilizes the building with HDDC approval," he said. "The costs of such a demolition will be a lien against the property that will have to be satisfied before it could ever be sold to a third party."
According to Bode, his parents had planned on reimbursing the city for performing the demolition by paying off the tax lien over the next decade. By doing so the family would retain ownership of the property.
Reach reporter Danny Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org