The empty lot where the office and Donna Clifford’s home and once stood, following the fire that destroyed the house almost six months ago, is now debris-filled, and weeds grow taller each day.
It was demolitioned on April 11 and 12. The house was built with asbestos, so the contractor, Middleton Carouthers, was to remove everything including the foundation, which he didn’t do. He also pushed the remaining debris into the hole that was once the basement.
St. Louis County Health Department told Carouthers, who does business as The Wrecking Crew, that the project was an asbestos abatement job. The entire house, including the foundation, was to be taken away in plastic-lined trucks.
The county has cited Carouthers for illegal waste disposal for leaving the job before it was finished and before it could be inspected for asbestos.
Maplewood Building Inspector Neil Fick said Maplewood issued Carouthers a citation for failure to fill excavated property, for which he'll go to court on July 9. He also said Carouthers already had been given 30 days to finish the job, in a nuisance hearing.
Whatever contractor finishes the job will have to be state-approved to remove asbestos. Then it will need to be inspected and refilled.
Carouthers said the county “pulled a fastball on us.”
“They said the foundation is included in the structure, and I wrote a big old dissertation about it,” Carouthers said. “I (complained), and how you going to beat St. Louis County? You just can’t.”
Carouthers said he’ll finish the job, but it will cost Clifford another $5,000.
“If Donna (Clifford) or anybody cares, we underbid the job grossly,” he said. “All we’re doing is asking to finish it up at cost. If it goes out to bid, it’s going to be 15 grand.”
Meanwhile, Clifford has a buyer who wants to build a house there but can’t close on the property until this is resolved.
“The city of Maplewood has done everything it can to help me out, but this guy is blaming everybody else for his problems,” she said. “He’s not fulfilling his obligations. I’d just like to know what he’s done with the money that he did get.”
Clifford said if she has to pay more it won’t be to Carouthers, who she calls a con artist, it will be directly to whomever does the job.
“I can’t deal with this guy anymore,” she said.
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