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Confusion Stops Renovation On Kasson School

Created: 06/02/2014 10:56 PM KAALtv.com
By: John Doetkott

(ABC 6 News) -- Last Thursday, a group of residents in Kasson bought the historic 1918 school building from the City of Kasson for $240,000. 

But now work inside has come to a standstill.

The group that bought the building is hoping to refurbish the crumbling structure, but confusion about what's going on inside prompted the city to issue a cease and desist order.

A small sign on the door of the Kasson school building warns that construction being done inside is in violation of city ordinances, and all work needs to stop immediately.

With the purchase agreement approved by the city council just last Wednesday, the building's new owners said the notice came as a bit of a shock.

"We were not warned ahead of time that this was going to happen,” said Lorraine Spading, a member of the group that bought the building. “It was rather disturbing because we, the shareholders, now own the building, and we didn't think we needed any permits just to do some sweeping and cleaning."

Group leaders said they planted some flowers outside, but the work inside wasn't anything that requires a permit.

But city leaders said they issued the cease and desist letter only after the city's building inspector reviewed what was going on inside.

"In his opinion, the work being done either did, or would very soon require a building permit,” said Mike Martin, the city’s director of Community Development. “To this point, the new owners of the building have refused to apply for a building permit."

Martin said there is nothing to prevent the owners from entering the building and cleaning, but worries about the possibility of the roof collapsing.

Group leaders maintain their work would not have required a permit in any way.

"This was just rather shocking to us because we didn't think we were doing anything wrong,” Spading said.

Spading also said the group is in the process of drawing up renovation plans, and said they are already in talks with a developer about the building's future.