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City forcing contractor to finish building house after 15 years

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City officials initiated proceedings today to compel a contractor to complete construction of a home he began work on almost 20 years ago.

The large two-storey home on Brahms Bay -- an upscale neighbourhood in North Kildonan -- has been an irritant and eyesore for neighbours for the the past 15 years. That's when Dennis Pelisek suddenly stopped working on the 2,656 square foot home.

"You have to ask what's reasonable and we've been more than reasonable," said Barry Thorgrimson, director of planning, following an appeal hearing at city hall.

City officials used regulations in the vacant buildings bylaw to pressure Pelisek to finish the house -- ordering him to complete the bathroom, kitchen and electrical work inside the home; and, to construct stairs and railings on the outside of the home -- or demolish it.

Pelisek told the committee that city officials were being heavy-handed, arguing, unsuccessfully, that the vacant buildings bylaw didn't apply to the Brahms Bay home.

Pelisek said the house isn't vacant -- it's still under construction, adding he can't complete the interior work until he resolves some foundation issues.

"I just don't feel I'm being treated fairly," Pelisek said.

Pelisek, who lives in the North End, didn't explain why he stopped working on the house or when he expected to complete construction.

Pelisek now has until mid-June to complete the outstanding work.

Thorgrimson said if Pelisek doesn't comply with the order, the city could take him to court or do the work themselves and add the cost to his property tax bill.

While the property taxes on the home are up to date, Thorgrimson said if Pelisek were not to pay the taxes, the city could seize the home in a tax sale.

Neighbours and city officials said they suspect that some sort of traumatic event interrupted Pelisek's work 15 years ago and he never resumed.

The house appears to be finished at first glance, with the exception of a missing garage door. The windows are installed and secure, as are the entry doors.

Neighbours who didn't want to be identified said the house has been unchanged for 15 years, adding Pelisek sometimes drops by to mow the lawn or shovel the driveway.

The front yard now is covered with snow but neighbours said Pelisek allows the grass to grow almost one metre tall; he said he was growing native grass that contained three different varieties of flowers.

Peter DeGraaf, the city's bylaw enforcement manager, said the house is a fire trap.

DeGraaf said area youths had used the garage late at night for drinking parties, adding he was concerned the unfinished state of the home's interior would pose a safety risk to any firefighters who responded to a call there.

Thorgrimson said the city has never dealt with a situation like this, adding most people finish construction of a home in a reasonable time period.


Updated on Tuesday, April 15, 2014 at 6:03 PM CDT: Replaces map with correct address.

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