Dangerous Overland Park duplexes face possible demolition deadline

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Overland Park leaders call a property owner the worst of the worst when it comes to slumlords. They voted Monday to give him an early April deadline to fix up five duplexes at 69th and Floyd, or they could vote to tear them down.

Overland Park approved a new inspection program for rental properties in February. It doesn’t go into effect until July 2017, but Larry McCarthy didn’t waste time showing city leaders an issue they couldn’t ignore.

The Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel has lived in the Milburn Place neighborhood his whole life. The duplexes sit just down 69th Street from his home.

“The collection comes up and you get all this mold on the outside of the place, it’s horrible,” McCarthy said pointing out the gutters.

He says conditions got so bad recently he couldn’t sit idly by anymore.

“I just took my digital camera down there and started taking photos of the holes in the roof etc.”

He turned them over to the City of Overland Park, who got inside to take pictures of their own. McCarthy was shocked to find people were living in conditions that were worse than he ever imagined, with crumbling walls and insulation, all in the city Wallethub recently ranked best in the nation for families.

“There shouldn’t be anyone in Overland Park, Kansas that has to live in conditions like that,” he said.

The city agreed, deeming a majority of the units dangerous and unsafe, lacking sanitary or heating facilities. The designation also pointed out roofs allowing water inside plus other electrical and plumbing problems.

The City Council called an attorney representing the property owner before them this week. Attorney Mark Bodine blamed a bad contractor for repairs not being made.

"He gave him money up front," Bodine explained to the City Council.

Councilman David White asked Bodine to pass along a message to his client.

“I’m not going to shoot you, I’m going to shoot your client because he’s the kind of person we don’t want in Overland Park.”

Not wanting to put the two remaining families out in the cold, the city opted to give the landlord one more chance. But they told his attorney if serious repairs aren’t made come April they are prepared to tear all the buildings down.

“For you to say if we fix the outside we should back off, I’m sorry this councilman is going to keep the shoe on your client’s throat as long as I can,” White said.

“There’s no nice way to say it, he’s a slumlord," said McCarthy.

Councilman David Janson said the property owner was the main reason they considered interior inspections of apartments. As it stands now, the new program will just require exterior inspections of rental properties every two years.