ELKHART − After years of cajoling and seeking action, the city of Elkhart is on the verge of demolishing a house on Division Street despite prolonged pleadings against by the homeowner.
Hearing officer Lee Roy Berry on Wednesday, Jan. 29, approved a request by the city to demolish the two-story house at 167 Division St., after the owner, Dan Taylor, disregarded two attempts last year to sign a compliance agreement and outline a strategy to bring the property up to code.
Taylor has ten days to appeal the ruling, and Berry, who offered his sympathies over the difficult decision, explained the steps needed to initiate an appeal if Taylor believes the ruling was made in error.
Wednesday’s decision could very well end efforts by the city to work with Taylor during the past ten years.
Taylor and his wife were forced to move out of the house in early 2013 after the city found numerous violations. The couple had been living in the house without heat and plumbing and had been using a gas-powered electrical generator.
Inspectors at the time found numerous gas cans stacked inside the house.
The house and garage have damaged roofs, and parts of the house were hard to canvas because of hoarding.
Part of the upstairs had sustained significant damage from roof damage.
Minor repairs had been started, but officials don’t believe any work had been done in recent months.
Taylor was instructed in September and October to sign a compliance agreement and work with the city building department to outline necessary repairs. He was also asked in October to submit a $1,000 performance bond, but did not.
A city attorney Wednesday noted Taylor agreed in October if he did not adhere to requests outlined in two meetings, the city would seek demolition.
Taylor, 67, said he didn’t recall the request for the bond. He said he was waiting to hear from the city on the compliance agreement and that it had “slipped my mind.”
At various points during the hearing Wednesday, Taylor said he didn’t think the house needed much work, felt the city was harassing him and then pleaded that the city not take his house away, noting it was where he and his wife planned to retire.
If Taylor does not file an appeal within 10 days, the city will prepare to have it demolished, said Denny Correll, building commissioner.
In related matters, the hearing officer:
- Granted a request by the city to have a house at 1809 Stevens Ave. demolished. The owner, Dorothy Sheppard, agreed to the demolition order, saying she could not afford to make repairs.
- Granted a demo order for 2007 Morton Ave. The house was severely damaged by fire in July 2013. The owner, Tina Holt, was expected to work with an insurance company, which she said had set aside $10,000.
- Approved a request for the city to seek a compliance agreement with Steve Crawford, owner of a house at 1215 Hudson St. Crawford had been trying to sell the property. Building code violations were identified in April 2013. Crawford had sought to sell the property earlier, but is now being asked to make repairs. In addition to a compliance agreement, Crawford will have to post a $5,000 bond within a few weeks if he plans to make repairs.
Demolition orders were granted for three other properties in which representatives or owners failed to attend the hearing. Those include 1703 Lane Ave., 1520 Albany St. and 1321 Hester St. In each of those cases, the city will ask the property owners to demolish the properties themselves. Otherwise the city may seek to have it done and place a lien on the property to recover costs.