Board if Works dead with three home issues

By Joseph Slacian

The Wabash Board of Public Works and Safety dealt with three different home issues when it met Thursday, Oct. 4.

In the end, one home was ordered demolished, declared a second home unsafe and ordered the owner be issued a list of work to be done at the site and given a deadline to have work completed, and ordered a second stop-work order will be issued to the third.

The Mettler property at 131 E. Maple St., after several weeks of discussion, was ordered to be demolished. The city will seek quotes from local firms to do the work.

The board has discussed the matter for several weeks and, at its Sept. 20 meeting, agreed to give the family two weeks to find someone to demolish the home. However, family members told the board Thursday that they could not afford to have the home demolished.

By having the city demolish the home, a lien will be placed against the property and costs will be collected if and when the property is sold.

Meanwhile, Scott Hearn, owner of 112 E. Main St., was ordered to return to the Oct. 18 board meeting to receive a list of work from Building Commissioner John Stephens that must be done to the home and receive a deadline to have the work completed.

Stephens told the board on Thursday that the home is dilapidated because it had not been maintained by the owner. He also said it was a fire hazard, wasn’t safe structurally and was a danger to public health.

He had told the board at its Sept. 6 meeting that the home was open and, during a recent interior inspection, found people on the upper floors.

“It’s not a whole lot different,” Stephens said when asked if the state of the home had changed since the September hearing.
Hearn was to have some work at the site finished by Thursday’s meeting, including securing the doors, removing brush from around the home, clean the inside, remove items from the back porch and repair soffits. Stephens said some of the work was done, noting that the doors were secured, but that most of the work wasn’t finished.

Hearn told the board he secured the doors and had a city brush truck on site two weekends to load yard debris.

“Two brush trucks and it looks like I did a little around the edges,” he said, noting he was to have another truck this past weekend. “I think you’ll see a substantial (improvement) … at least around the property. I’ll have at least all that brush down from around the structure.”

Once the brush is cleared, Hearn said he plans to do some construction work to the house. Included in that work, he said, is removing a back porch from the structure and placing a new foundation there and building a kitchen on that spot.

Pressed by the board as to why the work wasn’t completed, Hearn said he thought the board wanted to see some progress at the site and didn’t realize they wanted all the brush removed.

“It was not my intent to not get it done,” he said. “It was a misunderstanding on my part.”

Stephens will prepare the list of work for Hearn to do by the Oct. 18 meeting.

“I think you’ve really got to show us you’re serious about this, Scott,” board member Todd Titus said. “I don’t think any of us want to tear your house down, but we will. … If you’re really dedicated to getting this improved with some of the ideas you shared with us tonight, you need to start getting the brush, the trash and everything done, and get it done now.”

In the third building-related matter, the board, after receiving complaints from neighbors, ordered Stephens to issue a stop-work order to Chad Vigar for a property he owns at 603 State St. This is the second such order issued for the site. The first was because work was being done without the proper permit. It was rescinded once the permit was received.

The property had been the topic of an unsafe building hearing at the Sept. 20 board meeting. The board granted Vigar until December to make needed repairs to the building and have it enclosed so interior work could begin.

However neighbor James Sturgill complained to the board on Thursday that the site was unsafe.

“That house, they work on it a few hours a day,” he told the board. “They’re up to maybe 20 hours per week. The house is severely unsafe. They’ve dug a hole behind it. The whole entire top is gone out of it. They’ve got it sitting up on blocks with pieces of wood.”

Stephens showed photos of the site taken earlier in the week.

“Looking at the pictures, that doesn’t look safe at all,” said Eric Shoening, who as City Council President was sitting in for Mayor Scott Long at the meeting. “It seems like we’re having to be really, really specific in terms of things we want people to do. These people are taking these things as general and taking their time on what they’re proceeding with things.”
Titus said, “It looks like he’s gone backwards since he was here.”

The board will order Vigar to appear at the Oct. 18 meeting as it considers modifying the order issued Sept. 24. It also ordered Stephens to specifically document items at the site that are out of code.

In a final matter, the board approved a contract with the Indiana Department of Transportation to sweep Ind. 13 and Ind. 15 in the downtown area a minimum of three times per year.

The city will receive $360 per curb mile, or $2,268 annually. In addition, the city will receive $9,072 in back pay from INDOT for the service.

Posted on 2018 Oct 09