Town grants extension for work on unsafe structure

SOUTH WHITLEY - The discussion on the Green Parrot building, which shared a common wall with the now-demolished Hicks building, continued Tuesday as Randy and Linda Striggle attended the town council meeting.The Striggles sold the Green Parrot to Scott Huntley a couple of years ago but are currently seeking legal counsel on how to proceed with numerous unpaid bills left behind by Huntley, who has abandoned the business, along with repairs to the south exposed wall. Due to Huntley’s disappearance, the business fell back on the Striggles.An order, which was issued by building inspector Craig Wagner with the Whitley County Building Department, stipulates the owners of the Green Parrot have 90 days from the start of demolition to the Hicks building to be in compliance with the town’s unsafe building ordinance.With an original deadline of Sept. 29 to repair the building, the Striggles asked for another extension due to legal issues.Council president Joan Eberhart questioned how long of a deadline the Striggles were requesting, but council member Tonya (Porter) Warner insisted on a new deadline date.“I would feel better if we give a deadline date tonight,” Warner said. “If we do an extension tonight, that doesn’t mean we can’t do another extension later if needed.”Town attorney Greg Hockemeyer cautioned the council that the building is still an unsafe structure and they should proceed carefully with extensions.The council extended the deadline for compliance until Nov. 29 and the Striggles are to keep the council updated on all legalities.Two other potentially unsafe building conditions were brought to the town’s attention by the Whitley County Planning Commission. Properties in question are 403 S. Line St. and 410 S. State St.“We need to determine if these are unsafe building conditions or a health issue,” Eberhart said.Council members agreed to have Eberhart contact Wagner so he can look at these two properties to make a final decision.In other business, utilities manager Dennis Eberhart advised that phase I of the storm sewage project is currently in full swing. Phase II of the project will take place next year, which will aid in increasing the water capacity within the water treatment plant.“Work will soon begin on the intersection at the bridge with a detour for traffic,” Eberhart said. “The detour will be down Line Street to Mulberry … and Water to Walnut Street and possibly no parking on Line and Mulberry.”The detour is expected to begin sometime next week with the possibility of the streets being available during the evening hours.Resident Donna Bowers was in attendance and questioned the council on the current $5 service charge which is being billed to every town resident.“This is a lot for people on fixed incomes ... and there needs to be some clarification,” Bowers said. “I don’t see any sense in the $5 charge and there needs to be something which we all understand because if it isn’t part of the electric bill it should not be taxed.”Winger explained how every resident who has a meter is being assessed $5. The $5 charge was also put into effect in order to have more funding available when the town’s electrical supplier (Duke Energy) increases their rates the first of the year.“Basically this charge is in lieu of a rate increase,” Warner said. “Something had to be done to increase revenue for the electrical department and we decided it would be a better option and have less of an impact.”Also in attendance was Lori Krikendall who inquired about the grass mowing and trash container policies within the town.“Where are we on the grass mowing situation and do you have a policy regarding these blue recycle containers on the curbside sitting out for a week and overflowing with trash?” Krikendall asked. “It’s just common courtesy and city pride.”Hockemeyer said the garbage company will not pick up recycling containers with trash in them and the town currently has an ordinance regarding this issue. Chief Deputy Marshall Michael Vandevender will also follow up on this particular issue.With the weed ordinance recently modified to include changes to the fee charged for mowing properties in violation, along with amendments by establishing a fine schedule and time line, Police Chief Dave Wilkinson is currently working on the mowing issue.Trick or treat night will be 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 31.“Since it’s a night before a school day, we talked about 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. so the little kids can get home a little bit earlier and I know a lot of towns also do this time,” Warner said.The next meeting is at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 14.