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Oct. 16, 2021

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Walls come down at infamous ‘meth mansion’ in Orchards

House across from Covington Middle School had been subject of Clark County lawsuit, source of neighborhood complaints

By , Columbian staff writer
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The house at 6114 N.E. 112th Ave., dubbed the "meth mansion," is seen Tuesday morning partly demolished. Code violations and nuisance complaints over the property have plagued the neighborhood for years. The owner's attorney said he abandoned the idea of remodeling in favor of tearing it all down and starting new.
The house at 6114 N.E. 112th Ave., dubbed the "meth mansion," is seen Tuesday morning partly demolished. Code violations and nuisance complaints over the property have plagued the neighborhood for years. The owner's attorney said he abandoned the idea of remodeling in favor of tearing it all down and starting new. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

The “meth mansion” — the notorious Orchards nuisance house across the street from Covington Middle School — is being demolished this month.

According to Clark County, demolition permits have been issued for the owner of the dilapidated house, which had been the subject of a lawsuit from the county over unpermitted building on the property.

The work is scheduled to be finished by Aug. 20, and Clark County code enforcement manager Kevin Pridemore said the crews are on pace to have everything, including a two-story shed in addition to the main house, gone by then.

Jason Hirshon, an attorney representing building owner William Rathgeber, said Rathgeber decided against his planned remodel of the house at 6114 N.E. 112th Ave., and instead opted to tear it down and start new. Hirshon said they are working with engineers to decide what would be best to build in its place.

The demolition comes after years of back and forth between the county and the owner over permits, liens, a fire in one of the many outbuildings on the property and a 2016 drug raid in which police arrested two people — including the owner — who police said were using the house to distribute methamphetamine.

Pridemore said he’s “happy to see it go” after fielding complaint calls weekly at one point and doing monthly visits for years.

The county sued Rathgeber for injunctive relief and abatement of occupied travel trailers, storage containers without permits, and building taking place without permits or proper safety protocols, according to court records.

At one point, the county discovered people were digging trenches under the house. Pridemore said that resulted in a cracked foundation and the house visibly leaning inward toward the hole.

The owner had been working to remodel the house and had applied for permits to reroof the main structure, among other work. In December 2017, Rathgeber was sentenced to six years in prison for possession of drugs, weapons and stolen property. While Rathgeber was in prison, Pridemore said the partially redone roof leaked and created even more damage. He guessed remodeling the house to bring it up to code was probably too expensive.

In 2017, county code enforcement said they received complaints about the house weekly and sought a court order to prevent the continued code violations. The case was scheduled to go to trial in March of 2018, but they reached a settlement for $65,000, which has been paid, according to Pridemore.

The lawsuit came after years of monthly visits and warnings to Rathgeber to correct the code violations, with little success.

After the agreement in the lawsuit, Pridemore said the owner did slowly start to clean up the property and the complaint calls slowed.

Hirshon agreed that the cleanup at the property was slower “than anyone would’ve wanted” and noted the difficulty of getting contract work done in a timely manner during COVID-19.

In 2020, the building was valued at about $93,000 and the property was valued around $65,000 for a total property value of about $158,000, according to county property information.

In 2015, Rathgeber and others applied to convert the single-family house into a commercial distribution center. Although the area was zoned general commercial, he never finished the application after the initial review. Pridemore said Rathgeber was operating a business out of the house.

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