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Published: Thursday, 7/29/2004

Swanton: Residents rouse officials to raze abandoned house

The roof and front porch are deteriorating on the abandoned house at 208 W. Garfield Ave. The roof and front porch are deteriorating on the abandoned house at 208 W. Garfield Ave.
KING / BLADE Enlarge

SWANTON - For 2 1/2 years, several residents have campaigned to get rid of what they say is a public nuisance - an abandoned house where raccoons romp on the roof and rats run around near the foundation.

"We're tired of it," said Barbara Saxer, who lives across the street from the house.

Village officials are familiar with the address: 208 W. Garfield Ave., and they are familiar with the complaints from the neighborhood.

The village recently filed a lawsuit in Fulton County Common Pleas Court to address the problem, but it could be several weeks before the village could proceed with plans to tear down the structure.

A few neighbors, who have attended several council sessions in an attempt to get the issue resolved, are pleased that the village has taken the matter to court, but they are frustrated that it has taken so long to get to this point.

"They keep giving us updates, but the house is still there," said Evelyn Babcock, who lives near the vacant house.

She and other neighbors say that they will keep returning to village council meetings to get updates on the progress.

"We want to make sure they keep on top of this," said Sue Ritter, who lives near the structure.

The front porch of the abandoned house. The front porch of the abandoned house.
KING / BLADE Enlarge

The house, the neighbors said, has been vacant since February, 2002, when Daryl R. Compton was found dead there. Mr. Compton, 36, died from environmental hypothermia. Officials said there was no heat in the house.

Neighbors say that his car is still on the property with expired license plates. A tire on the vehicle went flat, but a neighbor pumped it up so he could trim the grass.

Swanton officials have been trying to respond to the neighbors' concerns and complaints, but village administrator Jon Gochenour said "we have to go through a lengthy process" before the issue can be resolved.

There has been some difficulty tracking down Mr. Compton's heirs, he said. Public notices will be printed in a newspaper for six weeks. If nobody comes forward during that time the village will ask the court to abate the nuisance, Mr. Gochenour said.

The village plans to seek demolition bids, and then costs for the demolition would be assessed against the property. The house, he said, is in "extremely poor shape."

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