Judge upholds raze order for cat house

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Conley: 'The city does not have to wait forever'
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A cat sits outside the garage at 306 Jackson St., Oconto Falls, in November 2015. Animal control officers trapped around 30 cats at the vacant home, which was declared unfit for human habitation. Oconto County Circuit Judge Jay Conley last week upheld a raze order. (Times Herald File Photo)

Oconto County Circuit Judge Jay N. Conley has ruled with the city of Oconto Falls in the ongoing dispute over a Jackson Street house that was overrun by cats and ruled uninhabitable.

After visiting Roberta Olshesky’s property at 306 Jackson St. on Sept. 11, Conley issued a written decision Sept. 25 requiring her to comply with the city’s repair-or-raze order, which she has fought since it was issued in July 2016.

The unoccupied house first came to the city’s attention when around 30 cats were found living there and removed in October 2015. The house reeked of cat feces and urine, and mold also was discovered later.

The 84-year-old woman and her friends have worked to restore the structure because she could not afford the $18,000 to $27,000 bill to have it done professionally.

“This is a long and slow process, and the mold removal will, likely, require professionals to do,” Conley wrote in his decision. “At present, the court finds that defendant has failed to comply with the raze order and the house remains unfit for human habitation.”

Further, Olshesky has been unable to give a timetable in which she can comply with the repair-or-raze order, the judge said.

Olshesky argued that the raze order was unreasonable, and Conley said the original 30-day time period could be questioned but “given the deplorable conditions it was addressing,” the order is reasonable on its face.

“Defendant has now had more than a year to restore the premises and there is no end in sight,” Conley wrote. “The city does not have to wait forever. The court finds the city’s actions, in this case, reasonable.”