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Dilapidated Borst building finally comes down in New Richmond

NEW RICHMOND - The final chapter for a dilapidated commercial building in New Richmond has finally been written.

Demolition crews with Invision Services of Somerset converged upon 648 W. Fourth St. on Wednesday, Dec. 19, to begin taking the structure down. The building, owned by Carolyn and Vernon Borst, has been at the center of a legal battle that has waged for years.

"This was devastating to me and my family," Vernon Borst said. "That was my livelihood. Now I'm broke and I'm going to lose my house and everything."

Borst said the final bill on the demolition and moving his equipment will be between $20,000 and $25,000.

Borst said he will likely try to sell his commercial land in the near future, but he wasn't optimistic due to the slow real estate market today.

Jeremy Silvester brought his son, Logan, to the demolition site Wednesday morning to watch the activity. The young boy was excited to watch the heavy machinery in action. The dad was thrilled to see that something was finally occurring with the building.

"It been a long time coming," he said.

According to Mike Darrow, city administrator, officials met with Vernon Borst a week prior to develop the demolition plan for the building.

"Everybody finally got to the table," he said.

Now that the building is down and cleaned up, Darrow said city officials are glad they no longer have to deal with the issue.

"It's good to have it down," he said. "We can now move on to bigger and better things."

Mayor Fred Horne said the city has invested a lot of time into the ongoing property battle and it's nice to finally see progress.

"I am glad that this chapter is over and the building is coming down," he said. "I am happy for the neighbors that this is finally over."

Troy Schmidt, who has lived next door to the Borst property since 2003, agreed that it was a relief that the building had finally come down.

"I'm glad the battle is over and hope that someone does something beneficial with the property," he said. "I never had an issue with Mr. Borst's business and respected his right to earn a living. My only issue with his property was the cleanliness of the grounds."

Over the years, Schmidt said, Borst did make attempts to comply with the city but it never lasted long.

"He didn't make a consistent effort to keep it clean and organized," he said.

The Borst property saga dates back to 2001, two years after the rural Somerset couple purchased the property for $79,000. Borst was issued several citations in 2001 for code violations related to the building.

The city started putting more pressure on Borst to repair his building and clean up the exterior yard beginning in April 2006.

In September of that year, Borst was mailed a condemnation letter. City officials claimed the building was in poor condition and was not fit for human habitation, even though apartments in the structure were occupied.

The situation led to a hearing before the New Richmond Board of Appeals on Nov. 27, 2006. Borst failed to attend the meeting, due to apparent confusion about the date of the hearing. At that hearing, the board voted to order the building's demolition by Jan. 24, 2007.

After the scheduling snafu was uncovered, a new condemnation hearing was set for Dec. 11, 2006.

Borst was given 60 days to come up with a plan for repairing and improving the property. The deadline came and went and the Board of Appeals upheld the order to raze.

A year later, Borst was in St. Croix County Court to argue his case against the city. He said his wife, Carolyn, is co-owner of the building and never received separate notice of the previous Board of Appeals hearing.

When the raze order was upheld, Borst took the matter to the District III Court of Appeals. In 2009, the Appeals Court agreed that Carolyn Borst should have been sent a notice of any official proceedings.

The city remained undeterred, restarting the process for condemnation and issuing a raze order. A final raze order was issued in June of 2011 and a deadline was set for the building's demolition.

After that happened, the Borsts again appealed to the Appeal Court. In October, a judge determined that the Borst's legal options had been exhausted and the raze order was validated.