Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Davenport City Staff responds to Wisor's comments about 1125 Jersey Ridge

CPED has reviewed the email generated by the owner of 1125 Jersey Ridge Road, John Wisor, and offers this response.

Wisor: A historical map of Davenport produced by the HPC does not show the house in a historical neighborhood. It shows it outside the border of a historical neighborhood.

Staff: Maps of this property show the property both in and out of the McClellan Heights Historic District as well as the East Davenport Historic District. The survey maps prepared by City Historian Marlys Svendsen show the property out of the District. Later maps show the property in. Most recently, the City’s Geographic Information System (GIS) shows the boundary matching the original survey boundaries drawn my Ms. Svendsen. In 2009, City Planner Ken Oestreich spoke with Ms. Svendsen and she indicated that is was likely a mistake why the property (as well as 1127 Jersey Ridge Road) were not included in either district. Map is attached.

The definitive measure of a property’s status is its listing on the National Register itself, not if it is shown on a locally produced map.

Wisor: The house was not on any historical register at the time of purchase.

Staff: According to the records of the State of Iowa Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), 1125 Jersey Ridge was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 1, 1984, as part of the McClellan Heights District designation. See attached.

Wisor: John Wisor did not request it be put on any such register.

Staff: True

Wisor: The HPC took it upon themselves, after a demo request was filed, to nominate the house for historical status.

Staff: The HPC followed the City Code outlined in Section 17.23.120 that requires consideration of landmarking property that is the subject of a demolition request. The HPC denied demolition (April 21, 2009), considered the landmarking and recommended approval (May 12, 2009), and the City Council, by not approving the demolition request, approved landmarking the property on June 24, 2009.

Wisor: The HPC basically took control of the property without any financial consideration.

Staff: The HPC did not take control of the property. The City Council approved landmarking the property, which requires HPC approval of exterior alterations (Certificate of Appropriateness) or demolition. The property owner has not provided any financial information regarding the demolition request. Only financial information has been obtained through public records.

Wisor: The HPC did not consider any financial restoration costs nor did they inspect the property.

Staff: No written estimates have been presented to the HPC and Commissioners have not inspected the property.

Wisor: The historical aspects of the house are disputable as is its architectural significance to the area.

Staff: The survey prepared by Marlys Svendsen, affirmed by SHPO, determined the property to be a “contributing” structure.

Wisor: The property was purchased with the intention of tearing it down and building new. The condition of the property at the time of purchase was uninhabitable with burst water pipes, rotted-out soffits, siding, and a leaking roof. The previous owners accepted an offer that was $40K less than they paid just three year prior.

Staff: Property records show the house bought by a previous owner for $145,000 on 5-22-07 and sold to Wisor Village, LLC for $105,000 on 8-9-07.

Wisor: The offer was to purchase "as is" because of the neglected, deteriorated condition of the house. John Wisor stated at the time of the first demo refusal that it was cost prohibitive to put any money into the house and he was not interested in restoring the house or converting it to rental property. John Wisor put the house up for sale after the first demo request was denied but never received any offers to purchase. An offer to purchase is a signed contract AND earnest money (very important) - not a verbal request to purchase.

Staff: Staff cannot verify these statements.

Wisor: The city Community Service Division ordered expensive repairs in order to maintain its "rental" status in April 2010.

Staff: A Notice and Order was mailed to the owner on April 23, 2010 and is attached. The cost of repair was not included in the report.

Wisor: There was a construction accident on June 3, 2010 which damaged the foundation.

Staff: The property sustained damage on June 3, 2010.

Wisor: There is no criminal investigation related to this incident and John Wisor nor his contractors have ever been contacted or interviewed by the police regarding this issue.

Staff: The afternoon of June 4, CPD patrol officers canvassed the area and took statements of potential witnesses to determine if any crimes had been committed and preserve recollections while they are still fresh. Wisor did speak to officers at the scene on June 4, 2010 and indicated the house was damaged due to a construction accident.

After the initial canvassing by patrol, it was referred for follow up within the DPD to the detective bureau. At this point potential, appropriate charges would have been considered and any necessary follow up interviews would have been conducted depending upon whether any potential, appropriate criminal charges existed. Hence, Wisor and the construction folk(s) have not been interviewed by detectives. Since any appropriate charges would be by civil municipal infraction at this point, the investigation has been turned over to CPED's zoning enforcement division for follow up. CPED Staff and the Legal Department are determining next steps at this time.

Wisor: A licensed structural engineer produced a report on June 4, 2010 stating that the house is structurally unsound, unsafe, and should be taken down.

Staff: Quoting from the last paragraph of the Engineering Report by Chris Townsend: “It is my professional opinion that the structural capacity of the foundation and the framing system has been compromised and the house is no longer satisfactory. It is also my professional opinion that reconstructing this structure is not economically feasible due to the extent of demolition and reconstruction that is necessary to realign the foundation and framing.” See attached.

Wisor: The new house was designed with the cooperation of city staff and meets all city design criteria created for the Village of East Davenport.

Staff: City staff did work with the owner to assist him in designing a house that meets the requirements in the RIDO, Residential Infill Design Overlay District. Staff recommended to the Design Review Committee (DRC) of the Plan and Zoning Commission the design (attached) be approved conditioned upon the demolition being allowed to proceed. The DRC tabled the request to approve the design until the demolition question was answered.

The HPC and DRC are independent of each other and it is staff’s opinion that the DRC can and should have taken action without waiting until the HPC had determined the demotion status.

Wisor: The spray painting of the house is meant to show how out-of-control the situation is and to trivialize a few neighbors attempts to sway public opinion. The costs of restoring the house are not feasible or practical.

Staff: Comments from the author, no City response.

Wisor: Realistic Solutions for the HPC:

Target worthwhile properties. Start by selecting a hand-full of significant properties which can be managed and hold fund raisers to raise money to maintain the properties. Saving properties requires real hard work. The old Fire House in the Village could be a good place to start and could be turned into a community meeting place for historic preservationists. Do not label properties "historic" without the consent on the owner. Keep an open mind when evaluating properties for the historic value of the property. Cooperation is required from the owner since the building materials required to repair the building will not suddenly drop from the sky and attach itself to a building. The Palmer historic house sat vacant for 13 years without any repair or materials dropping from the sky.

Staff: Comments from the author, no City response.

Prepared by:

Matthew G. Flynn, AICP

Senior Planning Manager/Staff Liaison to the Historic Preservation Commission

City of Davenport


1125 Jersey Ridge Attachments -Various attachments, including historic district maps, photos of damage

Staff report with attachments -The Residential Infill Design Staff comments on the potential new structure


Anonymous said...

Unable to download attachemnets!

QuadCityImages said...

Strange... they do appear to be broken. I'm looking into it.

QuadCityImages said...

Ok, while I don't know why it didn't work the way I had it set up before, it should be working now. I should probably just break down and pay for some web hosting space...

Anonymous said...

Conservative Demo here:

So it was/wasn't/might've been "on a map".

However this part is damning to Dirtball's case: " According to the records of the State of Iowa Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), 1125 Jersey Ridge was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 1, 1984, as part of the McClellan Heights District designation."

If that be the case, perhaps the dirtball didn't do his homework when he bought the place. Wonder if it was part of the seller's disclosure?

In any event, If true, my earlier posts were written on false information and it may appear that the dirtball does indeed hold a leaky bucket of crap.

He may yet be the "winner" (QCI's term) but the City might make his life miserable in civil proceedings for several years.

In America one has the right to be a jerk, but when you piss off the wrong people they can make you sorry for it.

Anonymous said...


Unable to download (or spell) attachemnets!


Anonymous said...

Has anyone seen plans for the new toxic dump?

I'd say the city should take all of the Village and Gold Coast for the greater good. Then they can have a new fee to save these buildings. All for the greater good.

Anonymous said...

Man, have I heard some awful things about this guy. I think he's slowly going off the deep end, though.
Cocaine, it's a hell of a drug.

arronlorenz said...

It's interesting to see the back and forth.

It seems logical to me that if no chargers were filed against him that he should be allowed to proceed to spruce up the area.

Another great blog post.

Anonymous said...

Conservative Demo here:
Interesting to note that Barbara has weighed in on this matter in today's paper.

Not a bad read either.

Anonymous said...

When is the city going to get him to remove his "paint job" from the property?

Anonymous said...

The City of Davenport looks pretty spineless at this point. What kind of precedence are they setting by letting this guy do whatever he wants?

QuadCityImages said...

Its interesting, actually. Apparently in 150+ years Davenport has never had someone crazy enough to graffiti their own house to somehow force the city into letting them demolish it when its on the Historic Register...

But really, who draws the line between an ugly paint job (See: 14th and Grand, Kimberly Downs Packers house, etc) and graffiti?

Anonymous said...

Could you ask the City when Wisor has to have the graffit removed by. It is not as Malin say an issue of free speech. It is covered by City Ordinance. Sad that Malin doesn't know that.

QuadCityImages said...

From the city code:

9.22.010 Definitions.

A. "Graffiti" means any sign, symbol, marking, drawing, name, initial, word, diagram, sketch, picture, or letter placed upon the real or personal property of an owner without the owner's express consent; provided, however, consent of the owner shall not be an exception where the graffiti is visible from public property or right-of-way and tends to incite violence or disorderly conduct or is obscene under state law. After a prima facie showing that an inscription or marking is graffiti, the burden of proving the owner's express consent is upon the defendant.

It seems like he's in the clear, as its not obscene as I can tell, and he certainly gave express consent if he ordered/paid them to do it.

Anonymous said...

It dosen't intend to incite violence or disorderly conduct? Get real. You sound as phony as Malin.

Anonymous said...

Conservative Demo here:
I think today's QCT editorial summed it up pretty well, (as I perceive what it said) the dirtball has a personality fault and seemingly has been going out of his way to be an irritant as long as he's been down there. Right now it might be looking as if the guy just may win and that is like sand in the socks to the other villagers and some of the posters on here.

Very entertaining.

QuadCityImages said...

2:43, I don't even know what you're taking issue with. Do you feel that the graffiti IS inciting violence? Do you think the city should violate its own ordinance and send a city crew out to repaint private property? Its not like I'm defending the guy here; I think he should be in jail for several of the things he's done with this house, but the law is the law.

Anonymous said...

Keith alert