Board hamstrung on Home Street development

They’re concerned.

They’ve received complaints.

There’s nothing they can do.

The City Redevelopment Authority on Thursday discussed the lack of progress in the development of homes at the former Home Street Elementary School site by developer Ruzhdi Bakalli.

“His letter to the city when he first proposed purchasing that lot was that development would be finished by the end of 2013,” City Manager Nancy Freenock said, “and nothing has happened there.”

Last year Bakalli had hoped employees moving to Warren as part of Northwest Savings Bank’s expansion would purchase homes on the lot, Freenock said.

“We’re concerned and we’ve had complaints about the condition of the lot, where it should be cleaned up a little bit better and possibly seeded,” she said.

City Code Official Alan Gustafson said leveling the lot can be enforced.

“We can enforce to finish the grading at least,” he said.

“But as far as actually forcing him to do anything, I think the solicitor agrees there’s really nothing enforceable,” Freenock said.

“Except, he told us he was going to have something underway by the end of 2013,” Authority Chairman Chuck Hayes said. “We didn’t tell him he had to have something underway.”

Hayes said he thought a time limit was placed on the agreement with Bakalli for the lot, but it was not reflected in the minutes of the meeting.

“I could’ve sworn we put a time limit on it because we didn’t want the property just sitting there,” he said.

A timeline or an agreement to revert the property back to the RDA if the property wasn’t developed should’ve been instituted, Freenock said.

“The only thing that I have in the minutes here is that, “In response to Mr. Nelles’ questions, Mr. Bakalli stated that he will have the demolition complete by the end of September and the project completed by the end of 2013,” Freenock said. “These minutes bind this authority, they don’t Mr. Bakalli…”

Freenock said a letter will be sent to Bakalli to level and seed the lot.

City Administrator Mary Ann Nau said neighbors have called the city about the condition of the lot.

“People are disillusioned at this point,” she said. “We were waiting for a building permit application; none of that has happened.”

Freenock said, “It’s too bad he didn’t put up some houses” because employees relocating to Warren for Northwest Savings Bank and Blair need homes that are ready.

The authority elected Michael Boyd as chairman of the authority, Robert Kaemmerer as treasurer, and Randy Rossey as vice chairman.