JANESVILLE, Wis. (AP) - City officials say Ty Bollerud’s house at 419 S. Walnut St. will come down, but that hasn’t stopped Bollerud from fighting the city on what he believes is “heinous policy.”
After three years of back and forth between the city and Bollerud, the house and garage on the Walnut Street property will be demolished sometime after today, but the exact date depends on the level of cooperation from Bollerud and other people who live in the house.
In an effort to get what he believes he deserves out of the ordeal, Bollerud has filed a complaint in federal court seeking $75,000 in “just compensation” for “taken individual property homes and buildings and land,” according to documents filed by Bollerud.
Tax documents show the 0.36-acre property is worth $37,600, the J anesville Gazette reported.
The complaint is being reviewed by the court to determine if it can move forward, according to court documents.
City Attorney Wald Klimczyk said the complaint does not stop the city from tearing down the house, which city officials consider a hazard, because the regulation of raze-or-repair orders falls under state jurisdiction, not federal.
The state Fourth District Court of Appeals in March upheld the city’s raze-or-repair order after a three-year fight by Bollerud to have the action overturned, according to court documents.
City Building Director Tom Clippert on Sept. 18 sent Bollerud an order to vacate the property and remove personal property by Friday. Bollerud submitted his federal complaint five days later.
Bollerud is a familiar face for anyone who has attended a city council meeting in recent years. He often speaks during public comment periods, voicing concerns on myriad issues.
The battle for his house started after the city issued a raze-or-repair order in 2017, saying the property had several code violations including open electrical wiring, a lack of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and extension cords used in place of permanent wiring, according to court documents.
The city gave Bollerud 30 days to submit a plan to fix the property and show proof of his financial ability to do so, but he failed to meet that deadline, according to court documents.
Klimczyk said city officials still have not seen proof of efforts to fix the outstanding violations. He said the property is a hazard for Bollerud and others who live there.
Bollerud told The Gazette he plans to continue fighting the city over its housing policies. He acknowledged it is likely his house will be torn down regardless.
“I am just getting warmed up. The city will lose this, and I will win this,” he said, referring to the federal complaint.
Among a slew of other complaints he has against the city, Bollerud said he is bothered because the decision to demolish his house was made without a public hearing or vote by the city council.
City ordinances do not require a hearing or vote for raze-or-repair orders to be issued or fulfilled.
Over several years, Bollerud has offered his home to people who need a place to stay. The number of people living there has varied over time.
On Tuesday, Bollerud said people are living in his house, and they intend to stay there until they are forced to leave. It is unclear if Bollerud is currently living in the house as he has in the past.
The city will work with the tenants to encourage them to leave the property willingly, Klimczyk said.
If the tenants do not move voluntarily, the city can request a writ of assistance from the Rock County Courts to allow law enforcement to remove them from the property, Klimczyk said.
The city then would hire a contractor, typically a moving company, to remove the belongings and put them into storage, he said.
Klimczyk said Clippert is the one to decide how long he wants to work with the tenants before pursuing the writ of assistance.
Bollerud questions the city’s ability to remove people from his house without an eviction notice. The federal government has ordered a nationwide halt to evictions through the end of the year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The order to vacate is not legally an eviction, Klimczyk said, and the tenants are staying there at their own risk because the city has deemed the structure unsafe.
It is rare that residents want to stay in a house that is declared unsafe, he said.
Bollerud said he believes he has been “punished beyond understanding” and “bullied” by the city. He questions why the city puts resources into demolishing houses and said he wants to fight to make the city change its policies on dilapidated homes.
“This heinous policy has to die,” he said.
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