Insurance company fights Richmond Hill demolition

An insurance company is fighting the demolition of this Richmond Hill home.
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The city's effort to tear down homes badly damaged in the south side explosion is headed to court. An insurance company is fighting a demolition order, claiming the city is abusing its authority.

Demolition crews hurrying to tear down damaged homes, for now, are staying away from one resident. City inspectors and the home's owner insist it is damaged beyond repair, but the insurance company disagrees and is taking the city to court.

"I don't think it is surprising that the insurance company acted in this fashion. I think they've indicated they have a desire to put profits ahead of the consumer in this instance," said Adam Collins, Marion County Code Enforcement.

Collins says a city architect and engineer uncovered serious structural problems throughout the home.

"It is something that is going to be very difficult and very expensive to repair, if it is at all possible," he said.

Two weeks ago, representatives from the Hanover Insurance Company appealed the city's demolition order and lost.

"It would be on my conscience later if something did happen," said a judge during the ruling.

In a complaint filed in Marion County Civil Court, Hanover Insurance calls the decision "arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion...unsupported by the evidence."

Homeowner Tony Quakenbush says he's disappointed, but won't say anything more because of the impending legislation. During the first hearing, he sided with the city.

"As I see over the weeks, more damage, more and more deterioration. I don't feel comfortable putting my family back in that situation," he said.

So far, only two homeowners and insurance companies have changed the minds of city inspectors who decided, after all, to let the homes stand and be repaired.

No other disputes over home demolitions have gone this far. City officials hope it is settled sooner than later.