Bye-bye, burned hovel

HANOVER – If you have a toothache, you call a dentist. If your car breaks down, you call a tow truck. If you live in Hanover and you’re tired of staring at the charred ruins of a burned house across the street, you call George Borrello, District 6 Chautauqua County legislator.

At the Hanover Town Board workshop held Monday, Councilman Louis Pelletter announced what residents in Irving have been waiting to hear: the burned home at 12783 Jackson St. will finally be demolished.

“George Borrello (…) has been working on the house in Irving,” he said. “The people in charge of it have agreed to pay $25,000 to have it torn down and to deal with the asbestos that they have to deal with.”

Pelletter acknowledged that it was no easy feat.

“George has gone beyond the call of duty to get this thing done for us.”

Borrello requested that the board approve the use of 120 of the town’s landfill credits, to help with the costs of demolition. That request was granted at the meeting, which followed the workshop. It was approved unanimously.

Pelletter also thanked Mark Geise and the Chautauqua County Land Bank for facilitating communications between the many parties involved, pointing out once more the good that the Land Bank does for the community.

Geise, in a phone interview with the OBSERVER, pointed to Borrello’s hard work.

“George Borrello has provided the leadership behind this. He contacted the bank (that has control of the property) and got them to agree to pay for the demolition. It’s been a great partnership (between the Land Bank and Borrello.”

Geise explained that the Land Bank provided the technical guidance for the demolition contractor, and put together the contract between that company and the mortgage holder. The Land Bank also arranged for the air monitoring contract, since that has to be separate from the demolition arrangement.

“We are also working with the county landfill to facilitate the use of the town’s landfill credits for the disposal costs,” he said.

Originally, the town had questions about who actually owned the property, but Borrello told the OBSERVER that the project picked up speed after he was able to locate the mortgage holder.

“It turned out that the company we had initially contacted was not the mortgage holder; it was a collections agency for the mortgage holder. No one could actually get a hold of the person who owned the property,” he said.

The asset recovery company was very helpful, and Borrello was able to get in touch with Acwen, the mortgage holder. Acwen is in the process of foreclosing on the property, but as of right now, it does not yet have possession of the title.

“Because the property is in limbo, Acwen couldn’t gift it to the Land Bank, as they could have if they had already completed the foreclosure process,” said Borrello.

However, once Borrello described the physical condition of the property, Acwen representatives agreed that the sooner the house was demolished, the better.

“I was able to explain to them the situation at this house and how it was unsecured, dangerous and getting worse every day,” said Borrello. “It was a real liability. I’m very glad that Acwen took the time to understand (that) and stepped up and paid for the demolition of this property. It was really in their best interest, as well as in the best interest of the community.”

Once Acwen finishes the foreclosure process on the property, they can either sell the land, gift it to the Land Bank or let it go to a tax foreclosure auction, at which point the Land Bank, the county or the town could possibly gain possession of it. In any case, though, the neighbors won’t have to look at charred ruins anymore.

“No one deserves to deal with that dilapidated building in their neighborhood,” Borrello said. He also thanked Geise and the Land Bank for putting together the bid, arranging to have the property inspected and putting together the contracts for the work that needs to be done. He thanked Hanover officials, too, for their assistance.

Demolition is expected to happen within the next 30 to 60 days, barring unforeseen setbacks.