Hewitt file

Hewitt City Hall

The city of Hewitt is asking a judge to order a Waco builder to complete or demolish five duplexes that the contractor apparently walked away from more than two years ago.

In its lawsuit against builder Richard S. Clark, the city of Hewitt seeks up to $1,000 a day in civil penalties for each day the project is in violation of city building ordinances and asks 74th State District Judge Gary Coley Jr. to order Clark to finish out the duplexes or demolish them within 90 days of the court order.

Hewitt City Attorney Mike Dixon said the five duplexes on Hilltop Drive, just off Ritchie Road, have become a neighborhood nuisance. Children play in the open structures and homeless people camp out in them, while the lots have become illegal dumping grounds, overrun with unsightly high weeds, Dixon said.

Clark did not return phone messages left on his cellphone Wednesday.

“The defendant has essentially abandoned the project, leaving the 10 incomplete units to deteriorate, be weather damaged, and to be vandalized,” the suit alleges. “The units are attractive nuisances for children in the area and a magnet for vandals and illegal dumping.”

The suit says that Clark was notified in September 2018, after almost a year of no work on the units, that his building permits for the project would expire. Clark failed to respond and the permits have since become “null and void,” the suit alleges.

“On October 3, 2019, defendant was notified in writing by the city attorney of its violation of nine city ordinances and asked to establish a schedule of abatement and repair and completion of the units,” according to the lawsuit. “In response, defendant informed the city that the units would be complete by March 2020, and based on that representation, no enforcement action was taken at that time.

“Contrary to its promise, as of the filing of this petition, no further work has been done by defendant to complete the units. The defendant has literally abandoned the construction of these units and left the city with a row of deteriorating, unsafe and unsightly partial construction,” the suit alleges.

The units violate the city’s unsafe building ordinance because they are unsafe for human habitation; are dangerous to health by reason of dilapidation, abandonment or inadequate maintenance; constitute a fire hazard; are an unsanitary breeding ground for rodents and insects; and are unsecured against unauthorized entry, the suit claims.

No hearing date has been set in the case, but the city is asking for a mandatory injunction requiring Clark to complete the duplexes within 90 days or demolish them.

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