A commercial office trailer at the center of a zoning controversy is no longer in the state. It’s owned by Walter Ford and Julia Ford and until last week was located in Grovertown. The Starke County Board of Zoning Appeals in 2011 issued a mobile home permit for the structure. Neighbors George and Betty Dotlich filed a BZA appeal in October of that year, challenging the structure’s classification as a mobile home.
The BZA revoked that permit and issued one for a site-built home. The Dotlichs’ filed an appeal in court in March of 2012 on the grounds the trailer, which was purchased in Illinois, was not certified for any use in Indiana for any purpose and that placement of such structures outside of commercially zoned areas is a violation of county ordinances. A special judge ruled in their favor in January of 2013 and sent the matter back to the BZA. That body adopted the judge’s findings and ordered the structure removed by June 1, 2013.
The Fords applied for a new permit for the structure. That request was denied because you cannot seek a building permit retroactively. The Fords filed a legal appeal to that denial in August of 2013, and the Dotlichs filed a motion to dismiss. Special Judge Michael Shurn ruled to dismiss the appeal.
Earlier this year the Fords filed a civil lawsuit against former Starke County Building Commissioner Bruce Williams, the Starke County Board of Commissioners and Board of Zoning Appeals of Starke County over the zoning issue. The lawsuit contends the Fords have suffered harm as a result of the negligence of the defendants and seeks an unspecified amount of damages for costs to construct and remove the home, interest, closing and loan expenses, loss of value to the home, emotional distress, attorney fees and other damages. According to the lawsuit, the Fords spent more than $40,000 to build the home.