Petersburg home demolished without notice, owner billed $8,473

PETERSBURG, Va. -- Demetra Taylor said she drove past a property she owned in the City of Petersburg one day after a funeral and was surprised to see an empty lot.

"I was coming by the house to make sure the grass was still cut and at a decent level so we could walk through the property and the whole house was gone," Taylor said.

While she was not notified that the city was going to tear down the house, they did send her a different notification -- a bill.

"I got a $8,473.36 bill for tearing down the house that I didn't authorize anybody to tear down," she said. "I wasn't notified at all."

The city declared the empty house she owned as an imminent danger and that they did not need her permission to tear the house down.

Taylor says she was planning to show the property to a potential buyer before the city tore it down.

The house, located at 11 North Old Church Street, was damaged several years ago by a fire. Taylor was working to fix up the house.

"All that can be fixed," said Anthony Durden, who lives across the street. "All that can be fixed up like everything else you see, they flip houses."

The property is located in Ward 1, which is represented by Council Member Treska Wilson-Smith. After she heard what had happened, she stopped by the property.

Wilson-Smith said that the city considered the property dangerous and that it needed to come down for public safety reasons, and that the last communication between the city and Taylor was in 2016.

"We need to look at what did occur, how it occurred, why it occurred, and what we as a city can do differently," Wilson-Smith said. "There's a lot of other property that in my not so professional eye, think are a lot worse than this property was."

As for the bill, Taylor says she does not have the money to pay it.

"If I had it, I wouldn't pay because I didn't authorize them to do anything to the property," Taylor said.