Oops! Denton home totaled in mix-up

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by PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLF

Denton Record-Chronicle

Posted on April 27, 2010 at 10:44 AM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 27 at 6:19 PM

Wrong house demolished

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DENTON — A demolition crew rolled its bulldozer up the wrong side of Ruddell Street last week, leaving Francis Howard with a big hole in the front of her longtime family home.

Howard, 69, lives with her son in Frisco. She said another woman, who was digging irises in the flower beds Wednesday, tried to stop the crew before the porch and the front of the house came tumbling down.

The crew was supposed to be tearing down 721 Ruddell, the house across the street.

“I don’t have the words to say,” Howard said.

According to city records, Denton’s Construction and Advisory Appeals Board ordered in January that house at 721 Ruddell either be repaired or demolished. In the past six years, city code enforcement officers have found six violations there, including high grass and weeds, outside storage, junked vehicles and failure to secure the structure.

Howard is having trouble figuring out what to do next.

According to city records, her home also was in front of the Construction and Advisory Appeals Board on April 15, but she had pledged to repair it by July 15. Cabrales said the clock is still ticking on that deadline, but she could ask for an extension.

Howard’s house number — 724 — and a “no trespassing” sign still hung prominently on her half-standing structure Monday morning. It had been her family’s home for 47 years.

“I just want this house put back together,” she said. “I think I need a lawyer.”

City records show that Jeremy Jaruis, of Gainesville, applied Monday for a permit to demolish all the structures at 721 Ruddell and paid the $130 fee. Records show that he was to call the city’s water and electricity departments, as well as TXU Gas, to disconnect the utilities before beginning work.

He declined to comment on the mix-up.

Howard’s three-bedroom, two-bath house, measuring about 1,700 square feet, was appraised by the Denton Central Appraisal District for $24,116 in 2009. According to city spokesman John Cabrales, the utility lines — electric, telephone, gas and water — were still connected at 724 Ruddell when crews rolled in last week, but it was unclear if the utilities were live.

Howard said she’s heard two offers since the accidental demolition began — a $5,000 payment or another house.

County tax records show Paul Fisher as the the listed owner of 721 Ruddell and nine other homes in Denton, averaging about $42,000 in value. City records show Fisher also manages 18 other properties for his son, Craig Fisher.

Paul Fisher, who lives in King, N.C., also declined to comment, saying he couldn’t until the situation was straightened out.

Of the Fishers’ 28 total properties, the city’s code enforcement department has opened a case on all of those properties in the past six years, Cabrales said.

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