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By MARK EVANS
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
After more than a half hour of discussion during and after a public hearing on the matter last Thursday, the Ste. Genevieve Board of Aldermen voted to declare 58 S. Main Street a public nuisance.
David Bova, assistant city administrator, and the property owner, Timothy Bauman, were both sworn in to give testimony at the hearing.
City Attorney Mark Bishop walked the board through the hearing
Bova listed past issues Complaints began coming in of falling bricks on he two-story 100-plus year old brick building. Bova said he made Bauman aware of they issues. When they were not taken care of, Bova issued a notice of violation.
No work was done. Then, in 2023, staff at the next door Welcome Center and National Park Service staff began complaining about more falling bricks – as did a couple of tourists.
Bova showed the board photos that pointed out deterioration to the building’s exterior that had taken place over a two-year period.
He said another notice of violation was issued earlier this year, with no response.
Bishop noted that the building is actually owned by the Bauman trust and that Timothy Bauman is trustee of that trust.
Some pictures showed bricks that have disappeared around both chimneys from 2021 to 2023, creating holes in the wall.
Bishop asked whether there was a danger of a brick falling and striking pedestrians on the sidewalk in front of the building. Bova said there was.
Bishop asked whether Bova considers it “a danger to the public and a public nuisance” under the city code. Bova said he did.
In the end, the alderman voted to issue an abatement, giving Bauman 60 days to make the repairs, after which the city would make them and bill him.
Bauman, meanwhile, argued that he did not want to stick major money into the building until an ownership issue was cleared up.
He said that the late Frank Myers, long-time historic preservation activist and former alderman, had told him that the south wall of his building was actually on city property after he bought it in 1983.
“He came over to me and asked me to be quiet that this wall on the south side lays partly on city property,” Bauman said. “So he asked me to be quiet and he’d get back with me because the money was starting to come in for that project (building the Welcome Center, originally called the Great River Interpretive Center) over there. So I said, okay. Well, never heard nothing, never heard nothing.”
He said he brought it up again and Myers said to hold off on it.
In 1993, Bauman said he had the property surveyed himself and said, “Nothing’s ever been done about that.”
“I told Mr. Bova, I’m not sticking any money into it until the property line is clear,” he said. “Because I don’t have somebody come over and saying, ‘Well, it’s been laying on our property, we’re just going to take your house.’ So I want that cleared first before I do any work on it. That’s about all I really have. And once that gets cleared, then I’ll get started on looking for a contractor or somebody else to get the work done for me.”
After considerable discussion, Bishop stressed that the city has made no claims on the property.
“There is no dispute over the property line,” he said. “The city is not making a claim on this gentleman’s property. The issue before the board is whether the building is in need of these repairs and whether the property owner should be ordered to make those repairs. And if he doesn’t, whether the city should be authorized to do it for him and place a lien on the property. There is no property line dispute.”
Bishop later added that, “The ownership issue is a totally different matter,” and not related to the nuisance hearing.