Hobart Mayor Brian Snedecor said Wednesday he and Clerk-Treasurer Deborah Longer would find money in the budget to demolish some of the vacant, abandoned and dilapidated houses in the city.
“We owe it to the taxpayers who do take care of their properties,” Snedecor said.
“Can we take care of every property? No, but we’ll be doing our due diligence,” Snedecor said during the Board of Public Works and Safety meeting.
He said he’s targeting the houses that are vacant and abandoned and become eyesores in their neighborhoods.
Snedecor said he’s set a target of between $30,000 and $40,000 for the demolitions.
Snedecor said there could be some casino or County Economic Development Income Tax (CEDIT) money available, in addition to other budget sources.
Snedecor’s announcement followed action by the board to seek three proposals to demolish a house at 426 Liberty St. that had caught fire two years ago and is unsafe and uninhabitable, according to Building Official Mike Hannigan.
The board determined that if the proposals come in under $10,000, Snedecor would be able to issue a demolition notice without further board approval.
The Liberty Street house was one of three unsafe building cases discussed by the board Wednesday. The other two are being worked on by their owners.
Lucas Hyre told the board his plans for the house at 212 S. Colorado St. have evolved into a larger project that would include possibly purchasing some surrounding properties and building as many as six new houses on a cul de sac there.
In the meantime, he said he would install a new front entry door and overhead door on the garage, take the plywood off the house and mow and maintain the property as requested by the city.
“I have no tentative time frame (on the new development proposal,)” Hyre said, saying the city needs to tear down the house next door to his and he needs to obtain the properties first.
Hyre will appear before the board at its June 20 meeting with an update.
The owner of the house at 201 S. Wisconsin St. will be given a notice to also appear at the June 20 meeting.
Some city officials have expressed concern over the amount of time it’s taking the owner, who did not attend Wednesday’s meeting, to work on the property and the condition of its exterior.
Hannigan said he sent the owner a letter to comply on May 3 and hasn’t heard back.
Police Sgt.Ronald Russo, the city’s code enforcement officer, said he visited the house on May 2 on order from Councilman Dave Vinzant, D-4th, and found several violations, including damaged siding, junk on the property and high grass. He said he didn’t send the owner a notice to comply at that time, however, when he learned that Hannigan had already sent a notice to the owner.
Russo said he would send a letter on Thursday, and by law, the owner needs to be given 30 days to comply.
Board member Rich Lain said the owner has done an extensive amount of work on the house, which he said had nothing done to it for years.
“I would hate to discourage anyone from buying property and fixing it,” Lain said.
Board member Thomas Ehrhardt called it “a painful process.”
“I think he’s well intentioned, but he needs to expedite making the exterior presentable. He can take as long as he wants on the interior,” Ehrhardt said.
Vinzant said he’s working on a proposed ordinance regulating building permits and the length of time they’re good for. He said he’d bring his proposal before the council at its next ordinance committee meeting, on June 6.
Karen Caffarini is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.