Larwill denies property owner 2nd reprieve

LARWILL — The property located at 202 N. Center Street was evacuated last spring due to several violations of the Larwill’s unsafe building ordinance per Chief Inspector Craig Wagner with the Whitley County Planning and Building Department. Owner of the unsafe structure is Ralph Fitch, who was represented by Katrina Osterman last spring.At that time, Osterman agreed with the council to make repairs to the property by Nov. 1, with updates reported every two months to council members.To date, no updates have been reported to council members and nobody has occupied the residence since Feb. 25.At the council meeting Thursday evening, Wagner and Osterman were both present to update the council on the unsafe structure.“We received no request for inspections and actually saw no evidence of any progress on the property until last week,” Wagner said.“At this time, nobody has told us to do any inspections. (The) order has not been complied with at this point and it is still unsafe.”Osterman requested a second extension from council members, saying that it has taken all summer to jack the house up and install braces underneath the floor.“The floor has been torn out and is ready to start with framing and electrical,” Osterman said.“This has been ongoing all summer. It takes time to brace an entire house.”With one extension already granted in the spring, council members denied Osterman’s request for a second extension.“We were more than fair by granting the first extension which we (council) didn’t have to do and we were under the impression that we would receive reports periodically,” Council President Rick Hobbs said. “Anything would have been better than nothing.”Determined to move forward with the demolition, the board will proceed with notice of bids, which notifies the owner 10 days before public bids are introduced. Once the owner receives notice, they have 10 days to act or the town will collect bids and proceed with demolition of the structure and charge the owner.In unfinished business, leaf pick-up is still in progress and will continue as weather permits.“All in all, there is still a lot of leaves on the ground for us to clean up,” Hobbs said. “Fred Stoffel and Larry Sechrist (town employees) have been doing a good job and North Street looks the best since we had the road paved before the leaves fell off the first time. It looks really nice.”In new business, council member Phil Cameron has resigned effective Nov. 4.Town attorney Greg Hockemeyer is in the process of preparing the appropriate paperwork in order to fill the vacant seat.“He (Cameron) is moving and relocating,” Hobbs said.The town’s lawn mower will soon be serviced by a dealership located in Leesburg.“We need a full service — check bearings and all,” Hobbs said. “Spend a little, save a little, have them (dealership) go through the whole thing so we only have to do it once a year.”Amendments to the town’s current sewer ordinance is currently being reviewed by Hockemeyer.The ordinance will include a certified inspector on all future lines connected to the town’s main sewage line.“Our lift stations are in dire need of repair and we have an estimate here we are going to make a decision on tonight that is going to cost us (town) $7,000 almost,” Hobbs said. “The last time the pumps were worked on was 2005 and Rotor-Rooter pretty much guaranteed it will go down but just can’t say when.”The town has also been collecting resumes for a home inspector with town employees unable to apply for the position.“We have two sewer pumps out there now and one is about ready to go right now,” Hobbs said. “If lightning strikes today and they go out, we are down, plus the pumps are the originals and one is going bad.”Concerns are if one pump should fail, the town must rely on only one other pump.It will cost the town $6,500 to replace one pump and $750 for installation by Rotor-Rooter.In the future, all sewer lines will be inspected from the homeowner’s house to the main.“We need to take care of this before it becomes a big issue,” Hobbs said. “The town’s representative has to inspect from house to main. This also applies to a new line which must be inspected.”The sewer ordinance is currently being amended to reflect these changes.“Do what paperwork says or you are not hooking into the main pipe,” Hobbs said. “Our job is to protect the people who are paying their (sewer) bills now.”The town discussed the possibility of the first inspection being covered by the town with re-inspections paid by the homeowner.Clerk-Treasurer Renee Sills reported $369,515.53 in the town’s bank account and $9,780.85 in deposits for the month of October. Next meeting is at 7 p.m. Dec. 9.