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Slide-damaged home knocked down

Lawsuit involving Mountain Green house still pending

Sharon and Cecil Litle watch as crews demolish a condemned home in Mountain Green.
Sharon and Cecil Litle watch as crews demolish a condemned home in Mountain Green.
Keith Johnson, Deseret News

MOUNTAIN GREEN — Four years after a Mountain Green neighborhood was hit by a slow-moving landslide, one of the homes has been demolished.

Friday, a wrecking crew, under orders from the Morgan County Council, set about knocking down the condemned home formerly lived in by Nancy Hayes.

Hayes has long moved out of the home, located on Creekside Drive. Other nearby homeowners have moved out as well.

"There's no question that it's unsafe," said Morgan County administrator Garth Day.

Some parts of the home had sunk five inches, Day said. And the roof was tearing apart.

After Hayes moved out of the home in 2006, neighbors began noticing people were showing up at the vacant house to have parties, and they complained to the County Council.

Eventually, the council approved the abatement, or condemnation, of the home and sought bids to demolish it. But when the lowest bid came in at $60,000, the council decided not to go ahead with demolition, said Jann Farris, Morgan County attorney.

But when new members joined the seven-member council in 2009, they looked at the demolition issue again, sought new bids and chose a contractor who could take the home down for about $15,000. The county will also have to shell out about $6,000 to dump the debris in the Layton landfill, of which it is a part owner.

"It's a sad, sad situation," Farris said. "I feel terrible for Mrs. Hayes, who had to go through this."

Hayes is still going through it, though she couldn't be reached for comment Friday.

According to court records, in 2006, she brought a lawsuit against the geotechnical firm that approved the home's construction.

In 2007, mediation failed to bring an end to the case, and in October, the case was nearly dismissed due to inactivity, but it continues as various motions have been filed. Two other homeowners have brought suits against their homebuilders for building on the unstable soils on which their properties sit.

The county has since established a sensitive-lands ordinance that would require a rigorous geotechnical study before any future homes are built on the property.

But Day and Farris say they don't think that will ever happen, because it would likely cost so much to shore up a property that the home wouldn't be cost-effective to build.

"The County Council's No. 1 goal is to make sure this doesn't happen again," Farris said.

e-mail: jdougherty@desnews.com

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