Clark Street Property Main Topic At Warsaw Department of Code Enforcement Meeting

All four hearings before Warsaw Department of Code Enforcement Hearing Officer Lawrence Clifford Monday afternoon will be back before him at the Sept. 19 hearing.

The longest hearing of the day was for city code violations on Lionel Garza’s property at 1010 E. Clark St.

Hearing Officer Larry Clifford said the case was originally set before him in April, but Garza wasn’t present. Garza said he broke a rib in February and was out for eight weeks. Clifford said the letter sent to Garza Feb. 26 stated his property had numerous city code violations including unlicensed and inoperable vehicles, trash and debris, deteriorating foundation, rusted metal roof and faulty weather protection. In April 2015, Clifford said a similar letter was sent to Garza complaining of similar things such as a junk camper and piles of trash.

Answering Clifford’s questions, Garza said he lives at the house, he owns the camper and it’s operable but doesn’t use it often because it only gets 8 miles to the gallon. As for the four vehicles on his property, including the camper, he said they are all plated, insured and operable except for one they’re trying to sell. There are three adults and a teenage daughter living in the home. His son’s four children also come to visit sometimes, which is why there are swing set, playhouses and other things in the yard.

Warsaw Building Commissioner Ray Behling later said the same complaints about the residence date back to 2005. Garza said he’s lived there since 2000.

Garza said a minivan that used to be on the property has been towed off to the scrap yard, the roof has been repaired and the foundation has been fixed. A boat trailer will be gone by this weekend, a garage will be repaired, and a red car on the property can be stored somewhere off site.

Behling said since 2005, Garza has shown some progress on the property, then it would stop and the property went back into disrepair.

Code Enforcement Inspector Dana Hewitt estimated that Garza was currently about 40 percent in compliance.

Clifford said he could impose up to a $5,000 civil penalty to get Garza’s property up to code. He said he likes to find a way that is best for everyone without having to do that if possible, but wasn’t shy about imposing a penalty if necessary.

Garza showed Clifford numerous photos of neighbors and residences along Clark Street who were in violation of city codes. He said he will clean up and maintain his property, but while the code enforcement inspector is checking out his place, he’s missing others’ violations.
“I get it. It doesn’t seem fair to me either,” Clifford agreed. “No, it doesn’t,” Garza stated.

Garza was directed by Clifford to schedule an inspection of his property with Hewitt, and another hearing was set for Sept. 19 to check on Garza’s progress.

A third hearing on the property at 1017 E. Fort Wayne St. started off Monday’s schedule. The first hearing on the property, where it was ordered demolished, was May 16; then at the June 20 hearing, it was spared as Sherri Shafer Dalrymple, doing business as Shafer Rentals, had purchased it to turn it into a four-unit low-income apartment building.

Dalrymple told Clifford that she retained SRKM, an architectural firm, to do drawings and they are in the process of filing for a variance for a sprinkler system in the “fourplex – the four-unit property as it stands.”

Jeff Kumfer, SRKM co-owner, said his firm was working on the variance application to be sent to the state in the next two to three days. A hearing on the variance is Sept. 7 in Indianapolis.

Behling said after the state’s hearing, depending on the outcome, SRKM will work on submitting the renovation plans to the state, and then the city will get those for its review as well.

Clifford asked if the plans don’t go with the variance application. “At this point we’re just applying it for the variance on the sprinkler system,” Kumfer replied. “If somehow that goes through, then we have to step back and take a look at other options we have and potentially submit that to the state as floor plans. Two different processes.”

Clifford asked if the kitchen and bathroom were being kept as they were for Apartment D. The bathroom is next to the bathroom, and currently there is no door between the two. Kumfer said that was the plan.

If the variance for the sprinkler system is approved, then the application for the fourplex has to be submitted to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security to “address the issue of bathroom versus kitchen” and the state typically takes three weeks for review on that,

Kumfer said. He said it could be four to six weeks after Sept. 7 that the IDHS could issue a formal opinion on that.

Clifford asked Kumfer what the likelihood was of the state granting a variance on the sprinkler system. Kumfer said Dean Illingworth, IDHS chief inspector, said that while there was no guarantee, they would be “sympathetic” to the cause. Illingworth encouraged SRKM to seek the variance, Kumfer stated.

Clifford set another hearing for 1017 E. Fort Wayne St. for Sept. 19 for a status update. In the case of the city versus William Davis, for the property at 304 S. Detroit St., Administrative Assistant Zannie Powell told Lawrence, “We’ll have to redo this because we sent it off certified mail and, for some reason, it’s still sitting at the post office.”

Hewitt said he checked Monday morning on it and the owner of the post office box has not picked up the certified letter.

Powell asked if anyone lived at the residence, and Hewitt said no. Behling said there was someone there. Hewitt said he made an assumption no one lived there because the windows were broken out and there’s very little furniture in the home. There is a white truck behind the residence, he said.

“If there is someone living there, I will go rattle the door again and see if anyone answers, but I made the assumption the way the house is, it’s not habitable,” Hewitt said.

Clifford asked if the city was requesting to demolish the home, and Behling said yes. Powell said she had it down under a compliance issues, but could redo it for the September hearing as a demolition. Clifford reset the hearing on the property for 1:30 p.m. Sept. 19.

As for  the property at 511 E. Clark St., Powell reported the property owner made arrangements to have it demolished by Aug. 24. If it’s not done by that date, Powell said a hearing on it will be Sept. 19