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Several Homes Remain In "Standby Construction," Five Years After - KOAM TV 7

Several Homes Remain In "Standby Construction," Five Years After Joplin Tornado

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Joplin, MO -

Joplin city officials say there are several homes still being rebuilt from the tornado, five years after the disaster.  But some residents say they're tired of looking at unfinished business.

Joplin's Cunningham Park has been a worldwide symbol of remembering the past and building a strong future.  But just a few steps away from the park is a home that neighbors say represents a lot of unanswered questions.

"We were hoping it was going to be rebuilt and new neighbors would move in," says Joplin resident David Durall.

Durall walks out the front door of his home and says he sees something frozen in time.  City records show a building permit for this home, across the street from Durall, was issued in July of 2011, shortly after the Joplin tornado.

"They gutted the inside after it (tornado)," says Durall.

Durall and other neighbors say construction on this home has been sporadic for the past five years.

"Just that chimney part, the garage part, and just that rock around the door there," says Durall.

There's no writing on the home's building permit.  City officials say the sun may have faded the ink away.  But that could mean nothing.

"The permits and the inspections themselves are more of a service," says Bryan Wicklund, Joplin's chief building inspector.  "They're not designed to set a schedule or a time frame for the projects.  As long as there's progress being made, they're good for the life of the project."

The city doesn't define what "progress" in a project means.  Something like putting one board in the floor means the building permit is still good, as long as there's "progress" every six months.

"And that has happened, yes," says Wicklund.

According to the city, within the past two years, there have been 10 to 12 properties that have gotten regular complaints about construction lasting too long.  During ten years before the tornado, there were only about two projects that gathered complaints about lingering construction.

Durall says there might be a simple solution to this program.  If property owners can't afford continuous renovations...

"Maybe sell it and let somebody else who can," says Durall.

Either way, Durall just wants more friendly neighbors.  Sooner, rather than later.

The city's building department says some buildings could be declared a public nuisance by a city board, and that could force more timely construction.  However, some members of city council have been planning on revamping the city's building code program to include some sort of construction time limits.

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