With the planned demolition of the old Comfort Motel on North Main Street just days away, the owner of the property has appealed to the Lockport Township Board for “a reasonable time” to “correct the situation for you.”
Hiren Patel addressed the board Monday evening (February 8th) and said, “I found out a few days ago that the property that I own, along with my ex-wife, had been a problem for you folks and I just wanted to contact you and come here tonight. I’d like to take care of things in the right way.”
Patel said that 2009 was “not a very good year” for him with “four different hospital stays, four different surgeries on my spinal cord, but, at the same time, I’m doing alright right now.” He said, “I have the ability to correct the issue if I’m given a chance in a reasonable time.”
Regarding the appearance of the buildings, Patel said, “I completely agree the aesthetics of the property are not very good. The property needs to be painted and taken care of. I have the ability now to do so. I just wanted you to see that I’m a decent person and not looking to do anything wrong in the township. I want to take care of things in the right way.”
Township resident Brenda Higgins asked Patel how long he has owned the property, to which he replied, “Fifteen years.”
Higgins said, “I haven’t seen any improvement in that property over that 15-year period. Why have you allowed it to sit like that for 15 years and now, all of a sudden, you want to fix it up?”
Patel indicated that he hired a local painter to paint the buildings five years ago.
Higgins said, “But that place has been an eyesore” and, she added, “Personally, I think the value of the property would increase if the buildings were removed.”
Patel said, “I’m not disagreeing with you at all. Understand, if the buildings are to be removed, I would like to work with the township enforcement team to do it myself.” He explained that he was the contractor for three hotels that were built in Three Rivers – the Holiday Inn Express, the Super 8 and the Best Value – “so I understand the issue.”
Higgins asked if Patel was willing to remove the buildings at his expense – “not paint ‘em, remove ‘em?”
Patel indicated he was willing to do so and said, “I’m not opposing the issue. I’m just saying, give me some reasonable parameter where I can get the work done myself. If you load outside contractor expense onto the property and then put that on the taxes, that puts a burden that I might not be able to overcome.”
Supervisor Ray Signorello brought the conversation to a close by saying, “Mr. Patel, this board will take your comments under advisement” and then said, “We have a very busy schedule tonight so let’s move along.”
During its January 11th meeting, the board authorized Rusk Excavating of Sturgis to remove the buildings at a cost of $17,455. The move came after action in December to uphold the Dangerous Structures Hearing Officer’s decision to demolish the buildings.
Following the January meeting, Enforcement Officer Doug Kuhlman said, “Approximately February 15th, we should see equipment in there to start removing those buildings. He said there’s a “close window period” for accomplishing the demolition since the property goes up for tax sale March 1st. Kuhlman said, “My plan is to be in and out before March 1st so that whoever buys it is going to be basically having an undeveloped piece of land.”
Lockport Township has utilized its Dangerous Structures Ordinance to deal with the problems associated with the blighted buildings.