Mansfield eyesore faces condemnation process

House located on West Main Street

By:David Koch
   MANSFIELD — A blemish on Main Street may soon turn into a welcoming sign for visitors.
   At its meeting April 10, the Township Committee unanimously introduced an ordinance to begin the process of condemning a two-story house on West Main Street.
   Officials said the house sits opposite the exit ramp of Route 206 south on less than a quarter acre of land.
   "It’s an eyesore right as you enter town," said Mansfield Mayor Ron Carty. "If we do anything with it, it would be to welcome you as you come into town. We want to clean it up first."
   Township Administrator Donna Snyder said there are no specific plans yet for the site.
   "One thing (the Township Committee) wants to do is to make it a little more aesthetically pleasing and a nice entranceway into the township," said Ms. Snyder.
   The property is owned by Elaine Heslin of Hamilton Township.
   Under state law, if condemning a property is shown to be a public good or public need, the owner must be compensated with an appraised value of the property.
   Mr. Coleman said the township has offered Ms. Heslin $18,000 after the property was reviewed by a professional appraiser.
   The house and land were appraised at $23,000, but the township’s offer deducts the $5,000 demolition fee.
   Ms. Heslin has 14 days from April 5 to respond to the offer.
   After the 14 days, the money will be handed over to the clerk of the state’s Superior Court and the township will file a condemnation complaint with Burlington County state Superior Court.
   Mr. Coleman said the township could then file a declaration of taking with the Burlington County clerk’s office, which will turn the property over to the township.
   As of Tuesday afternoon, Ms. Heslin could not be reached for comment.
   Mr. Coleman said it is hoped the property will be demolished by May.
   "It’s an eyesore and starting to become a nuisance," said Mr. Coleman. "We’ve heard reports of kids coming in and out of the house and God forbid someone is hurt; so we’re taking steps to get the property and abate the nuisance."