The Starke County Plan Commission can now enforce demolition orders for dilapidated properties after the county council appropriated $20,000 for that purpose. Plan Commission President Dennis Estok told them the county already has a process in place.
“We have a public hearing with these people, and then we give an order whether to rehab that house or to demolish it. If it’s too far gone, we want it demolished. They have X amount of days to do it. Now I can tell you right now I’ve been sitting on planning for five years. I bet you we’ve had a handful out of probably 200 cases that have actually done something on their own. So basically if they don’t do it, by law we can go in there and take care of the problem,” Estok said. Until now, funds have not been available for the plan commission to carry out demolition orders, some of which date back to 2006.He said the money from the county will get the process started.
“If we have to go in there and demolish an abandoned house or unsafe premises, we will do it to the best and cheapest way we can do it. What we also can do, and the law allows us to do it, is put a special assessment against that property against their taxes. One way or another we’re going to try to get reimbursed. It’s not like we’re going in there to spend all this money. One way or another we’re going to do everything we can to get reimbursed, plus penalties,” Estok said.
The council unanimously approved the transfer of funds from the Starke County Commissioners CEDIT fund. The commissioners previously blessed the project to go to the council for approval.