Planning panel tackles controversial abatement list
The Nome Planning Commission found a list of debatably abatable properties in their meeting packets Aug. 1—about 50 structures on a long list from which to nominate a short list of five most needing abatement. Those five would be referred to Nome Common Council for action—to be made safe or to be demolished.
Owners of those five structures would be given official notice for a hearing before the Council to correct fire or health hazards, or to retrieve the structure from the status of public nuisances with cleanup and fix up. Ten of the buildings on the list were laggers from a 2013 list.
According to city law the mayor, city engineer, chief of police, fire chief or city health officer may report a building to the Nome Common Council for being a nuisance, health hazard or fire hazard.
The law applies a timeline for the owner to be notified of a hearing—in person or by registered letter and a notice posted to the structure. The owner or representative may attend and present evidence that the report is untrue.
Failure to apply remedies to structures verified by the Council as hazards has resulted in quick cures by bulldozer and a bill to the owner for costs, a solution backed up by city law.
Someone had highlighted the addresses of two listed properties in red. An owner of one of the treasures designated as trash—209 West Second Street— attended the meeting: The pie hit the fan during public comment period. David Csiki walked to the podium and held up photos of his property.
The City’s failure to enforce standards and regulations against a neighboring property was holding back work in progress on his property, David Csiki declared at the podium, in no uncertain terms.
Before he could stabilize the east wall of his structure, “I need a foot up the ass of George Foot” Csiki told members of the Nome Planning Commission.
Csiki had filed a complaint to the City on July 23 that raw sewage—fecal matter and toilet tissue—had come onto his property from Foot’s duplex next door at 207 West Second Street. Additionally, there was potable water flowing directly into the sewer without back-flow prevention, according to the complaint report. Uncontrolled runoff was thawing the ground by Csiki’s building and causing a loss of grade, according to the written complaint. Access sought by fire department in an emergency would be blocked by junk, the complaint said. Csiki had done cleanup work himself, according to the complaint.
To apply fill to stabilize the wall, “I need shit out of there,” Csiki continued. He wanted action from the City’s building inspector, Greg Smith, who works for the City halftime. Contractors refused to work under the building citing sewage under the building, Csiki said.
Foot did not attend the meeting, but afterward denied he had raw sewage coming of his duplex onto Csiki’s property [co-owned with John Handeland].
The Second Avenue property appeared on the abatement list’s last go-around. The City took it off after Csiki reminded them he had a building permit and a materials order arriving with the summer barge.
Again, Aug. 1, Csiki vowed he had plans to shore up the wall on his building. He had an engineer’s advice and materials on hand.
Impossible, Smith said. Smith had revoked the building permit for lack of progress on the project. Csiki had no effective building permit, Smith stated.
“No work had commenced within six months according to the code,” Smith said.
Csiki dropped the “Eff” bomb from great height. He had received no letter, had not signed for any certified mail from the City of Nome. He was going ahead with the project, he said. Summer construction time was fading with the fireweed. Csiki invited the commissioners to take a field trip to inspect the properties during the meeting.
A couple of commissioners agreed to taking a look-see for their own opinions.
“It would clarify the ‘he said-he said,’” Commissioner Larry Pederson offered.
Others took the stance of “What’s the use?” As members of the NPC, they had no power to enforce a solution—that came from the Nome Common Council, they said. Thus they favored sliding the matter, whatever it turned out to be, over to the Council.
“What is the purpose of walking over if we can’t take action?” Commissioner Sara Lizak said.
“It’s not our job,” Ken Hughes, NPC chairman said. “The Council will set a time for hearing. We can’t make a decision; we can advise.”
A vote to recess the meeting for a field trip to West Second Street failed.
The exchange between Csiki and Greg Smith was cordial. They both said they liked the other, but then there also words said.
“He’s a master manipulator,” Smith told the commissioners several times during the meeting. He had inspected the site and found Csiki’s claims untrue on the day of inspection. The photos of junk and mess had been shot last winter, did not show the present condition of the property, Smith told commissioners.
John K, Handeland, who has an interest in the property represented by Csiki, grabbed the podium. He had taken the photos a few minutes ago, he said, not last winter.
Smith had dogged him ever since he had made inquiries concerning marijuana licensing, Csiki said. Smith is upgrading buildings on West First Street with intent to open a licensed marijuana growing and a retail operation.
Csiki had inspected the property in the company of Toby Shield of Nome Joint Utility System’s water department and verified the mess, he said.
Commissioner Sara Lizak suggested that the Nome Planning Commission hold a work session before the next meeting of the panel and “look at all of them and vote on all of them so it is fair.” Commissioner John Odden agreed that the commission needed a work session to pile into a van and check out the properties on the abatement list.
Commissioner Jessica Farley asked Smith to provide a list of the properties that included the reasons the structures made the abatement list.
Smith knew which structure should be at the top of the list: 209 West Second Avenue.
“In my opinion, this is the most dangerous building in town,” he said.
Following the meeting, Csiki, Smith and commissioners Larry Pederson and Chris Williamson went over to walk Csiki’s property. They saw the sunken ground beside and under the wall of Csiki’s building. They saw make-do plumbing on the back of Foot’s duplex. Someone pointed out a clump of wet paper under the edge of Csiki’s building they said could be toilet paper.
Smith, building inspector, did not jump to conclusions. That paper could have been left by transients going behind there, Smith said.
Commissioner Rob Cahoon visited the properties at 207 and 209 later and discussed the situation with Csiki and Smith.
City Manager Tom Moran said Monday that the situation in the 200 block of West Second stood at a did-not-did-too impasse. He expected to receive an inspection report form Toby Shield of NJUS and an Affidavit of Fact from Csiki.