Millburg night spot faces wrecking crew after trustees’ decision

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

BENTON TOWNSHIP — The old hangout known as Billie’s Bar in Millburg will cease to exist.

Benton Township trustees approved demolition and asbestos bids for the vacant property at 4758 Territorial Road owned by Tom Jennings.

The board will pay Withrow Excavating $9,500 to demolish the building and Martin and Associates $2,000 to remove the asbestos contained in a small area of linoleum.

Clerk Carolyn Phillips said the building will be demolished within the next 30 days.

Treasurer Debbie Boothby said the township had received complaints over the last few years about the property’s condition.

She said the building department tried to work with Jennings to either repair or demolish the building to no avail.

“We asked the residents for their patience and now it’s time to follow through with what we said we would do,” Boothby said Tuesday. “We will put the cost of the asbestos abatement and demolition on Mr. Jennings taxes and expect him to pay his debt.”

Jennings is not a township resident, but owns property in the township, Boothby.

Superintendent Elden Piontek said money for the demolition will come out of the general fund through the demolition line item.

“We budgeted $30,000 this year, but we hadn’t used it,” Piontek said. “We worked with the county to get a grant for the demolition of those 27 vacant houses earlier this year. We didn’t even use any of the demo funding on our budget. After this, we’ll still have money left over.”

On July 1, 2014, the board authorized the building department to seek demolition bids.

In a letter written to trustees in July 2014, Jennings wrote he was fully aware of the bar’s condition.

“At this point in time we are deciding what can be done with the building,” he said in his letter. “I have had an architect and a roofer look at a plan to improve or demo the building.”

The Construction Board of Appeals met June 29, 2015, to hear the Jennings’ appeal to keep the structure, which was denied.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Nov. 6, 2015)

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