Fire-damaged duplex ordered demolished

·5 min read

Jan. 24—GOSHEN — A Goshen home badly damaged by fire in early 2021 was ordered to be demolished during a meeting of the Goshen Board of Public Works and Safety Monday afternoon.

The property is a duplex at 214 E. Clinton St., which was damaged by fire in May of 2021. Ron Davidhizar owns the property.

A public hearing regarding the property was originally held in December of 2021, during which Davidhizar sought permission from the board to refurbish the fire-damaged house.

The board's members ultimately denied that request, though he was given the option of hiring a structural engineer to give recommendations for a rebuilding plan. Davidhizar was also ordered to secure all openings in the duplex, including windows, doors and any hole that allows rodents to enter, within 15 days. The hearing was then continued to Monday's meeting.

However, during Monday's meeting, Goshen Building Commissioner Myron Grise informed the board that a visit to the home that morning had revealed that while the lower level of the home had been secured with makeshift wood, the second story had not.

In addition, Grise indicated that he did not believe a structural engineer had been hired by Davidhizar for recommendations regarding the home.

"I talked to him about three weeks ago for a different issue, and he brought it up that he didn't think he was going to get a structural engineer to look at it," Grise said. "It was too expensive."

Kent Holdren, superintendent of the Goshen Water Department, then noted that his department was recently contacted by someone claiming to be a structural engineer who indicated that they'd discovered leaking water at the home during a recent inspection.

"We were actually called to that address that there was water leaking in the basement," Holdren told the board. "We were called there by the structural engineer that was inspecting that. So, I'm guessing, well, that's who he said he was. But, that was a week or so ago. So, there was one there evidently."

Given that Davidhizar was not present for Monday's hearing, city attorney Bodie Stegelmann noted that without being able to confirm if Davidhizar had actually hired a structural engineer — or what the engineer's recommendations for the property were — the board essentially had two options: move forward with making a determination on the home, or continue the hearing again.

For his part, board member Michael Landis suggested that the board go ahead and order that the home be demolished, but give Davidhizar a couple of weeks to contest the order if he so chooses.

His fellow board members agreed, and a motion was put forward and approved unanimously ordering the home at 214 E. Clinton St. to be demolished by March 31, with the understanding that Davidhizar will be notified of the decision in writing and must contact the board by Feb. 7 if he wishes to contest the decision.

WILDEN AVENUE WORK

Also Monday, board members approved the next step in preparations for the city's upcoming Wilden Avenue Reconstruction project.

Approved was a request by Dustin Sailor, director of public works for the city, for permission to implement lane restrictions on Wilden Avenue between Ind. 15 and Rock Run Creek beginning Wednesday and continuing through the end of February.

According to Sailor, the lane restrictions are needed in order to allow NIPSCO to begin relocating the company's gas main along Wilden Avenue in preparation for the upcoming reconstruction project.

"We received notice this morning that NIPSCO will begin installing their gas main along Wilden Avenue," Sailor told the board. "NIPSCO's contractor could begin as early as Jan. 26, with the intent of being completed by Feb. 28. During this time, a lane restriction will be required.

"As you remember, we just had a large contract for tree removal," Sailor added of the corridor's preparatory work. "That tree removal was completed last week, and NIPSCO is following right behind to relocate."

The request was approved unanimously.

As planned, the Wilden Avenue Reconstruction project will run from the Rock Run Creek bridge to approximately 100 feet east of Fifth Street. The project will include: new pavement with curb and gutter; new sidewalks; construction of a new storm sewer; and realignment and widening of Wilden Avenue at Main Street. Completion of the reconstruction project is expected to cost approximately $5.5 million.

OTHER BUSINESS

In other business, board members:

—Approved a request by Sailor for approval of a temporary right of entry agreement with Missionary Church North Central District Inc. involving property at 2612 Dierdorff Road. According to Sailor, in order to complete the public path along the south side of Kercher Road at the intersection with Dierdorff Road, work will extend beyond the existing right of way at the southeast corner. As such, the temporary right of entry agreement will provide the contractor access to reshape the slope of the existing retention basin and construct the public path. As part of the agreement, the existing church sign at the southeast corner will be removed and the church will install a new sign outside the right of way.

—Approved a request by Stegelmann to approve a contribution of $62,000 in local matching funds to the Michiana Area Council of Governments for the city's 2022 Transit Services Agreement, which includes Interurban Trolley and Interurban Trolley ADA Paratransit services.

—Approved the promotion of Wesley White to the rank of private first class with the Goshen Fire Department retroactive to Jan. 4.

—Approved the resignation of Adam Peisker from the Goshen Fire Department effective Wednesday.

—Approved a conditional offer of employment for Tanner Warlick as a probationary patrol officer with the Goshen Police Department. The board will be asked to confirm the offer once a position becomes available at the department.

—Approved the board's 2022 meeting calendar.

John Kline can be reached at john.kline@goshennews.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 240315. Follow John on Twitter @jkline_TGN.