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Neighborhood nuisance: Demolition underway for three Dickinson property owners

“There are a lot of requirements... but there are a lot of things that will deem it a dangerous structure,” Building Inspector Blaine Dukart said.

A hole in a roof is pictured.
A hole in a roof shows where a chimney used to be, which has now been since removed inside the residence at 219 S. Main Ave. in Dickinson. This residence among two others were unanimously approved for demolition by the Dickinson City Commission during a condemnation hearing Jan. 18, 2022.
Contributed / City of Dickinson

DICKINSON — Three properties within Dickinson city limits have been condemned and are in the process of being demolished, pending the ruling on potential appeals.

In January, the City of Dickinson met to discuss three properties that have been out of compliance with city ordinances and uninhabitable for several years — some of which have turned into “decade properties,” as referred to by city officials in the most recent condemnation hearing .

In a previous article , Building Inspector Blaine Dukart noted that the city does try to exhaust all efforts before sending out letters of condemnation and proceeding with demolition.

“There are a lot of requirements... but there are a lot of things that will deem it a dangerous structure,” Blaine Dukart said. “Number one, anything that’s structurally unsound in a building, so trusses or bearing walls that are out of compliance or structurally unsafe; exterior holes in the property’s roof for exterior walls, so that also becomes unsafe. No water makes it uninhabitable because it becomes unsanitary. A lot of different factors, but those are the main ones.”

The three properties unanimously approved by the Dickinson City Commission for demolition are located at 219 S. Main Ave., 243 Second St. SW and 1520 West Villard St.

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Prior to each roll-called vote, the panel of commissioners heard directly from Blaine Dukart, City Attorney Christina Wenko, Lt. Matthew Hanson of the Dickinson Police Department and other representatives of the properties.

219 S. Main Ave.

A residence within the 200 block of South Main Avenue in Dickinson is pictured by the City of Dickinson on April 19, 2016, showing that the home is out of compliance with the city's municipal code.
A residence within the 200 block of South Main Avenue in Dickinson is pictured.
Contributed / City of Dickinson

During the condemnation hearing, Joshua Kilwein, the owner of 219 S. Main Ave., was not present. The city became aware of the issues surrounding Kilwein’s property in 2015, beginning with exterior dilapidation, Blaine Dukart said, explaining that it was mainly regarding a hole in the roof of the building. According to the Building and Codes Department, there was a chimney in that spot that was removed, leaving a hole. Another issue with the property was that the water was shut off in January of 2015. Blaine Dukart said that usually results as a request by the owner. The city then contacted Kilwein about the water shutoff and that the property was deemed uninhabitable.

“The lack of water makes it unsanitary. So there’s no potable water in the house,” Blaine Dukart said, adding that electrical and gas units were physically disconnected from the home.

Following multiple attempts to correspond with the owner, such as requesting access for a structural inspection, the city did not hear from the owner until Jan. 28, 2021, when Kilwein contacted the Building Department for a structural inspection — which occurred two months later. The findings from that inspection revealed that the home and the detached structure were “structurally unsafe.”

A view from inside the residence at 219 S. Main Ave. in Dickinson is pictured by the City of Dickinson during an inspection on March 23, 2021.
A view from inside the residence at 219 S. Main Ave. in Dickinson is pictured by the City of Dickinson during an inspection on March 23, 2021.
Contributed / City of Dickinson
During an inspection by the City of Dickinson in March of 2021, an inside view of a home located at 219 S. Main Ave. in Dickinson shows the structure out of compliance with the city's municipal code.
During an inspection by the City of Dickinson in March of 2021, an inside view of a home located at 219 S. Main Ave. in Dickinson shows the structure out of compliance with the city's municipal code.
Contributed / City of Dickinson

On March 22, 2021, a condemnation letter was sent out that the building was to be demolished. The city has made several attempts to contact Kilwein, but since June of 2021, Blaine Dukart said they haven’t heard from him. For seven years, there have been no improvement to the structure and the conditions of the home have worsened, he added.

Wenko noted, “.. Since January of 2015, there’s been little to no improvement on this property. You can see by the photographs that the structure is just rundown. It would take a major overhaul to get this property into compliance. The property owner has done very little to be in contact with the city’s building department. The structure is an eyesore; it’s rundown. It’s in need of major structural repair.”

243 Second St. SW

A home located at 243 Second St. SW in Dickinson is pictured out of compliance according to the city's municipal code regarding rubbish and garbage on property.
A home located at 243 Second St. SW in Dickinson is pictured in April of 2013 out of compliance according to the city's municipal code regarding rubbish and garbage on property. Since that time, the city has exhausted its efforts to bring the owner's property into compliance leading to the Jan. 18, 2022, decision by the Dickinson City Commission to demolish the structure.
Contributed / City of Dickinson

The Building Department became involved with the property located at 243 Second St. SW, owned by Justin Dukart, on Sept. 1, 2005, when an original building permit was issued for a remodel. In March of 2012, the city was noticed of storage of various vehicles on property. According to the city’s municipal code, an accumulation of rubbish or garbage on properties is prohibited.

More issues began to arise when the city sent a notice out on Nov. 6, 2014, notifying Justin Dukart that there were two expired building permits on the property and he needed to either reapply for a new building permit or request an extension, Blaine Dukart, said, adding that at that point, a new building permit was required. Prior to 2014, the city had sent multiple letters to the property owner, informing him of the condition of the property. Some of the issues were addressed, but not all, he added.

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Wiring inside a structure located at 243 Second St. SW in Dickinson is in disarray during an inspection by the City of Dickinson in December of 2014.
Wiring inside a structure located at 243 Second St. SW in Dickinson is in disarray during an inspection by the City of Dickinson in December of 2014.
Contributed / City of Dickinson

An inspection in late December of 2014 revealed that the structures — a residence and detached garage — on the property worsened. In Blaine Dukart’s testimony, vehicles, some of which were unregistered, were parked in various places on the property. The roof trusses were cut out, jeopardizing the “entire integrity of the structure,” he said, adding that the wiring and plumbing was “basically non-existent” throughout the home — some of the wiring was torn and hanging from the ceiling.

These issues were sent to the Dickinson Municipal Court, in which Judge Robert Keogh issued an order for Justin Dukart to clean up his property.

It wouldn’t be until Oct. 28, 2019, when the city would hear from Justin Dukart as he filled out an application for a building permit to fix structural issues, to which the city granted. After those repairs were not completed, the city listed its final extension on June 1, 2021. A condemnation letter was sent out on June 7, followed by a demolition letter on June 17.

The city has received multiple complaints regarding this property, such as the presence of suspicious individuals at all hours of the day, people entering the property in and out, etc.

Insulation lays scattered inside a home at 243 Second St. SW in Dickinson.
Insulation lays scattered inside a home at 243 Second St. SW in Dickinson.
Contributed / City of Dickinson

Since starting out as a Dickinson Police patrol officer in 2009, Hanson has also been familiar with this property over the last decade.

“... Anything from calls for service revolving around disorderly conducts to drug offenses to warrants. I, myself, have personally served search warrants on the detached structures of this house,” Hanson said.

From January of 2015 to September of 2021, the DPD, alone, has responded to this property 121 times, Hanson noted.

During the hearing, Justin Dukart presented his arguments to the commission, saying that his neighbors don’t like him and would call in reports to the police anytime he was on his property.

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“Since the property was deemed uninhabitable, I haven’t been able to go to fix the property and I was in jail for a year and a half and that’s when I gave power of attorney to my sister and I figured she was gonna fix the problem so we could sell the house. And they did nothing to remedy (it),” Justin Dukart said, adding, “... My plans are to remodel the house and sell it.”

During Wenko’s questioning, she asked Justin Dukart if he received an offer from Venture Homes a few months ago. He replied, saying that he felt $50,000 wasn’t enough.

A representative from U.S. Bank requested an inspection of the property to see if any remedial efforts could be taken, or if the property should proceed with demolition. There will be a 30-day window for U.S. Bank representatives to perform their own inspection and make an offer to the City of Dickinson if they see fit.

“This property is highly unique in the fact that it has been a problem property for the City of Dickinson for going on a decade and then some… The Building Department has has given Mr. Dukart every deference possible to get him to get into compliance and he’s simply chosen not to do anything,” Wenko said. “And it is a little concerning that Mr. Dukart is sitting here today and placing blame on everyone else but himself and that is not voting well moving forward in determining what additional remedial repairs can be done to this property.”

1520 West Villard St.

A home that is out of compliance, according to the City of Dickinson's Municipal Code, is pictured at 1520 West Villard St. in April of 2021.
A home that is out of compliance, according to the City of Dickinson's Municipal Code, is pictured at 1520 West Villard St. in April of 2021.
Contributed / City of Dickinson

The last property in question at 1520 West Villard St. has been unkept since May of 2017. Multiple letters were also sent to this property. In December of 2020, the city was notified that the water was shut off.

In April of 2021, the fire department was called in due to broken windows and a door wide open. From there, the city’s standard procedure is to perform an inspection, Blaine Dukart said, adding that the findings determined that the structure needed to be boarded up, followed by placarding and the beginning stages of the condemnation process in June.

Since 2017, Blaine Dukart testified that there have been no major improvements made to this property.

This is another residence that the DPD has responded to multiple times, Hanson noted, explaining that police officers have reported 45 calls since 2014.

A structure located at 1520 West Villard St. is pictured in Dickinson.
A structure located at 1520 West Villard St. is pictured boarded up in May of 2021, in Dickinson.
Contributed / City of Dickinson
Long grass and weeds are shown in the yard at 1520 West Villard St. in Dickinson in June of 2020.
Long grass and weeds are shown in the yard at 1520 West Villard St. in Dickinson in June of 2020.
Contributed / City of Dickinson

“... The state of the property hasn’t changed since 2017 and it hasn’t gotten any better; it’s only gotten worse and the property is boarded up. It’s not habitable. It is, as far as the Buildings Department is concerned, unlikely to be repaired in any reasonable circumstance that’s not going to require a lot of expense,” Wenko noted.

Following each hearing, the commission voted to unanimously approve the demolition of those three properties. Thereafter, each property owner has a 30-day window to request an appeal.

Jackie Jahfetson is a former reporter for The Dickinson Press.
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