Board delays action on 2 structures

By Joseph Slacian

The Wabash Board of Public Works and Safety delayed action on two properties deemed to be unsafe.

Homes owned by Donald and Peggy Farley, 319 Euclid St. and Jan Bailey, 20 W. Harrison Ave., were the subject of hearings when the board met on Aug. 3.

The Farleys’ home, according to Building Commissioner John Stephens, is in need of foundation repair. It also is a fire hazard and is unsafe for the couple to live in.

The couple told the board that they have applied for funding under the Owner Occupied Rehabilitation project, part of the Stellar Community Grant program. If approved, they hope to use the money to make repairs on the home.

However, it was not yet known if the couple had been accepted into the program. If approved, the couple could receive a maximum of $25,000 to make repairs. The couple told the board it hopes to repair the roof, side the home, add gutters and work on plumbing, heating and flooring.

Stephens said the amount would be more than enough to make the needed repairs, if they are approved.

The board delayed action on the matter for 30 days to wait and learn if the couple has been accepted into the Owner Occupied Rehabilitation.

Board member Todd Titus did ask the couple if they had made any other living arrangements, in case they were not accepted into the program. When they said they had not, he strongly suggested the begin to do so.

Baily, by a 2-1 vote with Titus casting the lone dissenting vote, received 30 days to clear trash and vegetation surrounding the home. That will allow Stephens access to the structure to determine what shape it is in.

He told the board he is unable to get close to the home because of the trees and brush surrounding it. He also said he is unable to see the roof because of vegetation.

He did say the structure was a fire hazard, caused blight in the neighborhood and was unfit for occupancy.

Baily told the board she hasn’t lived in the structure for several years, living instead in a camper on the property. She said her son told her not to enter the home, saying he wasn’t sure of the condition of the floor joists. The home, she and attorney Mark Guenin added, that the home hasn’t had water service for several years.

They said she has contacted Indiana American Water to reconnect the water and that will be done. Electrical service, she said, has never been off to the house.

“I’d really like to fix it up and stay there,” Baily told the board.

However, Titus, who worked for the city for 40 years, said that the city has fielded numerous complaints about the property over that time.

“I have no sympathy on this,” he said. “The city, the county and the state has spent a lot of money on the infrastructure in that area. Something needs to be done, and it needs to be done now.”

The board also attempted to have a status update on a home at 1326 Adams St. owned by Justin Brooks. The site was the topic of an unsafe building hearing in April, at which time the board ordered it to be razed. Brooks later convinced the board to delay the order, saying he would work to repair the property.

Brooks was unable to attend Thursday’s meeting, Stephens said, because he fell off a ladder and broke both of his ankles.

The Adams Street property has not had the grass mowed in some time and work on a deck, for which the status update was to take place, has had little work done on it. “Just enough to get by,” Stephens told the board.

A home on East Main Street also owned by Brooks has not had the lawn mowed in some time.  Stephens said Brooks promised to have those situations resolved over the weekend.

Board member Todd Titus asked if the board so wished, could the Adams Street property be demolished. The board ordered the property demolished at its April 20 meeting.

No determination has ever been made on the East Main Street site, Stephens said.

City Attorney Randi Zimmerman-Irgang recommended the board reissue the demolition notice, which was unanimously approved.

Posted on 2017 Aug 08