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'Razing' concerns on dilapidated buildings

By DARREL RADFORD - dradford@thecouriertimes.com

SPICELAND — Time is up on two dilapidated structures in Spiceland.

Last week, despite late appeals from Marjory Hopkins and Yancy Carpenter, the property owners, Spiceland Town Council members voted to go ahead with legal efforts to have structures torn down.

The first action taken last Wednesday by the council was on a property at 6341 State Road 3.

“Last month, members of the Hopkins family were here and we tried to work with them,” Town Council President Darrin Jacobs said. “The council agreed to give them until this meeting to have some of the building torn down.”

But Jacobs said nothing has changed since then.

“They said they were going to take it down by today and nothing’s happened, so we are continuing to move forward through the court system,” Jacobs said.

“I recommend denial of their request based on their inability to follow through,” Town Attorney Tracy Newhouse said. “They didn’t comply with anything they said they were going to do at the last meeting, so I would reaffirm the demolition order.”

The second council action against an unsightly property came on one at 623 E. Main St. in Spiceland. Carpenter, the property owner, made a last appeal for more time at the very end of the council’s monthly meeting, but was rejected.

Carpenter said he bought building on tax sale but has not had an opportunity to do anything with it yet.

“When you guys originally had a hearing, I wasn’t notified even though I had interest,” Carpenter complained. “April and May were super, super rainy, so I couldn’t get anything done then. I’ve never had an opportunity to fix it.”

Carpenter, who is a contractor, said he got a second opinion on the building.

“It’s on a concrete slab,” Carpenter said. “It needs a new roof and gutted, but it is salvageable.”

But Jacobs said the town had waited long enough.

“We have a court order,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs also pointed out that Carpenter has bought buildings in Kennard and Dunreith but has taken no action on fixing up either one so far.

“To me, that kind of sounds like a pattern,” Jacobs said.

Carpenter argued that the town was making it too restrictive for properties to be improved, and that Spiceland was not alone.

“I’m scared to buy anything else in this county because people want to tear my stuff down as soon as I buy it and I don’t get an opportunity to work on it,” Carpenter said. “That’s bad for me as far as my investment is concerned. I could have a roof put on it in two weeks.”

But Newhouse and Town Council member Pam Stigall agreed with Jacobs. Each indicated action has not followed the words of property owners too often, and the town suffers because of it.

“The judge has ruled,” Newhouse said.

“Right now it’s too far gone to rescind and go back,” Stigall said. “I’m sorry circumstances were very unfortunate with your timing but I don’t feel comfortable back tracking.”