Chewelah residents fed up with nuisance home

Chewelah residents fed up with nuisance home

Burned down and trashed, an empty house in Chewelah has been frustrating neighbors for years and now they’ve had enough, pushing the city to take action.

The home on Tamarack Lane is located in the northern part of Chewelah. Residents say utilities to the home were shut off more than four years ago.

“It’s got to be cleaned up. In my opinion it’s an ecological issue over there,” said neighbor Terry Johnson.

For the last several years neighbors on Tamarack Lane in Chewelah have been keeping tabs on house number 1002.

“I still don’t know if there is somebody coming in and out there. There is a little kind of cubby hole you can see somebody has been in there. But everybody kinda keeps an eye on it,” said Johnson.

The problems started four years ago when the home owner failed to pay the bills. The utilities were turned off but that didn’t keep people from squatting inside. Then about a year and a half ago somebody started a fire that burned through most of the home, leaving a trashed, burned out shell with nobody taking responsibility for the clean up.

“It’s a serious public safety hazard. Besides being a really ugly spectacle in a otherwise nice neat tidy neighborhood,” said concerned resident Jim Jensen.

Some have talked about tearing down the building themselves but it is still private property, not to mention a possible health hazard

The mayor of Chewelah says even though no one has lived at the property for the last four years it’s a slow process working with the USDA. They now own the property and the city is hoping to come to a resolution with them so they don’t have to abate.

“The neighbors are unhappy and I understand. If it were near my house I wouldn’t like it either so it is important,” said Chewelah Mayor Dorothy Knauss.

Knauss said after court costs and clean up the city would be stuck with a bill in excess of $11,000, something it can’t afford, so it’s hoping the USDA’s Rural Development Program will demolish the house or donate it to a charity that will take on that responsibility.

While abatement would be faster, waiting on the USDA is cheaper.

“So with limited city resources we elected not to go that route, we elected to work with USDA,” said Knauss.

The last time the city heard from the USDA was on September 2 and at that point no decision on what to do with the home had been made. So for neighbors its back to waiting and watching.

“This needs to be taken care of,” said Jensen.

Calls to the USDA’s Rural Development Office for comment on this story have not been returned.