A roll off dumpster behind the former Hilltop House Hotel Saturday. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
Vehicles haul items from the former Hilltop House Hotel Saturday afternoon. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Although roll off dumpsters full of trash, mattresses and more have been spotted behind the former Hilltop House Hotel, now owned by New Mexico Innovation Triangle, LLC, and furniture and other items are being hauled off the site, it appears that there is little chance that demolition of the building will occur by the Mar. 30 deadline imposed in early November 2021 by Los Alamos County Council.
A resolution passed in November by Council ordered NMIT to commence removing the building and all associated debris within 10 days of service or the posting or publication of the resolution. It required the two-acre parcel to be left in a “clean, level, and safe condition suitable for further occupancy or construction with all excavations filled” by Mar. 30, 2022. The “clean and lien” resolution is a provision of state law that allows the governing body of a municipality to find by resolution that a building is a menace to the public comfort, health, peace or safety and require its removal. If NMIT does not comply with the resolution, the County may end up demolishing the building and placing a lien on the property for the cost.
NMIT bought the Hilltop House property in June 2020 and it has continued to remain unoccupied since. In July 2021, Los Alamos Fire Marshal Wendy Servey ordered the building secured and In October 2021, ordered the property to be fenced. She also ordered NMIT to provide her with all permits for either the work needed to abate the existing fire code violations or total demolition of the hotel structure by November 21, 2021.
As of Tuesday, County officials confirmed that they have been in discussions with NMIT but that no demolition permit has been obtained by NMIT. Fire Marshal Wendy Servey told the Los Alamos Reporter that a contractor has been hired by NMIT. She said she is deferring to the County Attorney’s Office for what the next step will be if the Mar. 30 deadline is not met. Asked about details such as a traffic plan, plans for disposal of structural debris etc., County Manager Steven Lynne said his understanding is that those will be part of the demolition plan. He said the County has been meeting with NMIT to stay on top of it. Lynne declined to say what the County’s options are when the deadline passes and said the County has never done this before. John Rizzo, NMIT’s CEO and co-founder, told the Reporter NMIT has been having Zoom meetings with the County three times a week.
With regard to the material being removed in the roll off dumpsters, County Community Development Department Director Paul Andrus said in an email that he assumes it is going to the Los Alamos Eco Station. Asked if CDD had received plans from NMIT on what their intentions are at the site, Andrus said nothing official has been received. He responded that he also has seen graphics from presentations by NMIT indicating a huge building planned for the site, but doesn’t know if NMIT’s plans have changed or not. Asked if NMIT was planning to meet the deadline given by the Fire Marshal, Andrus responded that he has not been tracking this and suggested talking to the Fire Marshal.
The County’s Demolition Application notes that for commercial projects, structures built before January 1, 1995, an asbestos report has to be submitted. It says all commercial waste sent to the Eco Station has to be surveyed for hazardous materials such as asbestos, PCB ballasts, mercury lamps etc. and an abatement report to demonstrate that all hazardous materials identified through the survey have been safely removed by a licensed professional and disposed of at a permitted facility. The application notes that the County’s Environmental Services Department will assist residents with “limited quantities of regulated asbestos containing materials”. The application also notes that the above list is not all inclusive and that additional information may be required depending on the scope of the project.