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  • Last modified 17 days ago (Oct. 4, 2017)

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Council gives homeowner a reprieve

Staff writer

Hillsboro City Council members discussed the condition of a house damaged by a Feb. 16 fire and agreed to give the property owner until January to make more repairs before deciding whether to condemn the property.

Warren Deckert, owner of the house at 311 S. Eisenhower St., came to the meeting to talk to the council.

Building inspector Ben Steketee told the council he’d sent a letter to Deckert in April notifying him that unregistered vehicles, old tires, debris, weeds, and construction materials on the premises needed to be removed, and an open pit at the back of the house needed to be filled. If the work was not done within 10 days, the city would do the work and bill him $200 per hour.

Deckert came to him eight days later asking for more time. Steketee gave him 30 more days.

Steketee inspected the inside of the house July 20. He found unsafe electrical work in the basement, buckling subfloor from rain coming in through holes in the roof, and black mold growing on sheetrock.

“I found the building blighting and uninhabitable,” Steketee said.

At that point, he turned the matter over to city attorney Josh Boehm to begin condemnation procedures.

Steketee said he has seen recent improvements, including filling of holes in the yard and a new roof being installed, but the exterior of the house still has broken windows leading to blighting.

Deckert said he doesn’t recall any conversation with Steketee when condemnation was discussed.

“I’ve taken the floor out that buckled, taken out damaged Sheetrock, and removed fire damage,” Deckert said.

Asked why he didn’t have Steketee inspect the property again, Deckert said he didn’t know he was under that much scrutiny.

“One of the things I’m up against is my insurance doesn’t cover everything,” Deckert said.

He’s trying to do as much of the work as he can himself while working full-time at his job. Deckert asked for time to continue working on the house.

Boehm said council members could recess the hearing and take the matter up at a later date. Council members voted to revisit the matter Jan. 2.

Council members also voted to borrow money from utility and general funds to begin work on reconstruction of B St. so a portion to be widened alongside Tabor College campus can get underway before the project is permanently funded.

“We’d like to repair and replace B St. before we do the rest of the streets,” City Administrator Larry Paine said. “In order to get the funds necessary, I’m suggesting an internal loan.”

The work on B St. will begin at Lincoln and move east.

In other matters, council members:

  • Approved an engineering agreement with Evans, Bierly, Hutchison and Associates for a water construction project;
  • Approved signing an intergovernmental agreement with the county to get two years’ financing for 800 MHz radios at zero interest; and
  • Approved payment of $3,500 for appraisal of the hospital building.

Last modified Oct. 4, 2017

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