HUSTONVILLE — City council members in Hustonville could vote next month to demolish the Hustonville Haunted House building on Main Street.
The state fire marshal ruled Nov. 5 that the building was a fire hazard and the city could remedy the situation by repairing or demolishing the structure.
Hustonville Mayor David Peyton told city council members Tuesday night that the owner of the building, Paul Gray, is not planning to appeal the fire marshal's ruling, paving the way for the city to take whatever action it thinks is necessary.
City Attorney Jonathan Baker said Gray had 30 days from the day of the fire marshal's ruling to appeal. The 30 days expired Wednesday.
When told about the meeting Tuesday night, Gray said his attorney has told him there is no way for him to appeal the fire marshal ruling.
"I would if I could, but they won't let me," he said.
Gray said if he wanted to, he could take the case to circuit court, but if he did then he would still be "fighting with the government."
"This just proves you can't win," Gray said. "A small business man will never win against a small city government. The government always wins. It's a sad thing but there's nothing you can do about it."
The building has been a bone of contention between Gray, city officials and other residents since February, when a portion of the outer wall of the haunted house collapsed onto the street below.
The collapse caused the city to close a portion of Old Liberty Road, creating a small detour for traffic.
Baker said the city couldn't have taken any action on the issue at its regular meeting Tuesday night because there was still one day left for Gray to make an appeal.
Baker recommended the city gather bids from contractors during the next month, allowing council members to take action in January if they want to.
Repairing the building would likely be far more expensive than tearing it down, Baker told city council members.
"Obviously, removal would be the most financially wise position," he said.
Peyton said one estimate for repairing the building was approximately $93,000.
Baker said tearing the building down could still cost the city $10,000 or more. And that money will likely not be recouped, he added.
The city can place a lien on the property for the amount it costs to tear the building down and then force a sale of the property.
But because there's a mortgage on the property, any amount the land sells for at a master commissioner sale will go toward that debt first, likely leaving the city without any money back, Baker said.
Peyton said he hopes the city might be able to find some state funding to help it manage the cost of tearing the building down, but in the end, the city will have to take a financial hit.
"We've got to go into this understanding it's money that we're never going to see back," he said.
Gray said he will continue to operate his haunted house business out of a building across the street from his old location.