Archive for Thursday, May 26, 2005

Immobile home

Bureaucratic barriers keep house’s move on ice

May 26, 2005

Rachel Turner's house has been sitting atop a trailer for a month now, and her frustration is beginning to boil over.

Originally having planned to move the house by April 1, the Leavenworth loan officer said she's frustrated at the nearly two-month delay in moving the house that until last month sat at 208 N. Main St. The house is now parked behind Main Street Autos, 214 Main St., and Main Street Auto Body and Tow, 212 N. Main St.

The city of Leavenworth denied Turner a permit to move the house through Leavenworth, citing public safety concerns for the proposed route that would take the house along west Eisenhower Road to its eventual destination on her property at 19181 Bauserman Road, west of Lansing. Turner said she was looking for an attorney willing to sue Leavenworth, a contractor for the city and two city employees for the expenses she said resulted from a personal grudge and bureaucratic inertia.

Turner said the experience had been exasperating "after having spent all this money and having it come down to a personal problem" between a city administrator and the foreman of the house-moving crew. Turner said she had also found out that the contractor hired to widen and repave Eisenhower Road had objected to the house's route out of concern for the company's plastic traffic cones.

Turner estimated that the delays had cost her $3,000, which included the continued rent on the house her family now occupies in Leavenworth, plus rent for the land the house has sat on since it was prepared for transport in late April, and the need for moving utility lines along the second route.

Angi Lorenz is project manager for APAC Kansas Inc., the contractor in charge of a road-widening project on Eisenhower Road. Lorenz said the company's sole concern with the proposed original route was the safety of the traveling public. Deborah Galloway, spokeswoman for APAC, said the company had offered other time windows for Turner to have the house moved along Eisenhower Road, but that Turner had said the dates had been too late for her purposes.

Michael McDonald, director of public works for the city of Leavenworth, said the reason Turner could not get the permit was because both the city and APAC considered the route for the house a danger to public safety.

"We told her that we would never issue a permit for the route they wanted," McDonald said. "She didn't want to hear that."

McDonald said the city might have considered the permit if APAC had consented.

Turner said she thought the permit denial was the result of bad blood between Bob Paxwald, deputy public works director for the city of Leavenworth, and Clifford Tessendorf, the crew foreman at Valley Moving L.L.C. of Wamego, which is handling the move for Turner.

Tessendorf's crew moved a house last fall from Mount Calvary Drive and Eisenhower Road. In the course of moving the house, it became stuck between banks on either side of Michals Road, west of County Road 5. Leavenworth County sent workers to clear the route so the house could pass.

Paxwald said he had never met Tessendorf.

"I certainly don't have any bad blood with Valley Moving," he said.

Paxwald said there was always a concern when moving a house that such incidents as the one last fall would occur.

Tessendorf, too, said he didn't think the city's denial of a permit to use Eisenhower Road stemmed from the incident. "Someone's just trying to assert their authority," Tessendorf said.

Tessendorf said the impossibility of taking Eisenhower Road to move the house on Main Street required him to draw up another route that will obviate the need for a permit from the city of Leavenworth and instead take County Roads 8 and 29.

Because the rural route would not have as much traffic, Tessendorf estimated it would not take any longer to travel than the Eisenhower route would have, even though the new route is longer.

Tessendorf said he planned to move the house June 3.

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