A Texas city that made headlines last month when a contractor that it hired mistakenly demolished the wrong house says that the same thing has happened again, though for a slightly different reason. The city of Fort Worth got some unwelcome notoriety in July when a wrecking crew looking to knock down an abandoned and derelict home bulldozed a home nearby that was merely vacant, even as a neighbor warned them that they were at the wrong address.
That incident sidetracked a couple’s plan for turning the lakeside house into a place to spend their retirement. But in looking into that error and how to prevent another home from being demolished by mistake, reports KVTV in Fort Worth, the city discovered that it already had: Just the day before the lakeside home was razed, the same wrecking crew under the authority of the same code-enforcement officer had taken down a fire-damaged building — as they should have — but went on to level an undamaged residence at the same address. That vacant dwelling (a remnant of which is shown above) was supposed to remain.
A member of the family that owns that property told another Fort Worth TV station that clothing that was stored there along with a number of other precious possessions and momentos of deceased relatives, such as pictures, were lost in that demolition. “My mom’s stuff, her clothes, her shoes, her boots — everything,” Juanita Anchonda told KDFW. “Her pictures, my grandma’s pictures.” Anchonda went on to tell the TV station that until now the family had not raised objections because they did not think that they had any recourse. “If they did it, they had the authority to do it. So what can you do?”
The work order on the fire-damaged home didn’t include anything about knocking down a second structure, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram said, and a code officer’s report about that mistake was, in the words of city spokesman Bill Begley, “not communicated up the chain.” The newspaper also reported that the city already is in court as part of a lawsuit over a commercial property that it knocked down in 2011, allegedly mistaking it for a property next door.
Begley said that in the case of Anchonda’s property, the wrecking crew went too far, reported KVTV, but the house that it razed the next day was “inappropriately” marked for demolition by a city employee. The spokesman also told the media that Fort Worth has stopped such demolitions until it can determine the source of the problem and that the city will “do what is right” toward the property owners. The city code supervisor involved reportedly is on administrative leave in the meantime.
This kind of error isn’t limited to Fort Worth, though. As AOL Real Estate previously reported, a dozen homes sold at auction were mistakenly razed in late 2012. In that case, The Detroit News said, the city pointed the finger at the state — which leveled them as part of a program to end blight near schools. However, the state said that the 12 homes were so unfit to occupy that they should never have been sold in the first place.