Goshen house found unfit for habitation

·4 min read

Jul. 26—GOSHEN — A vacant Main Street house was found unsafe for human habitation during a meeting of the Goshen Board of Public Works and Safety Monday afternoon.

Monday's hearing involved a property at 521 S. Main St., owned by Ron Davidhizar, 203 Middlebury St., Goshen.

According to Ryan Conrad, property maintenance inspector for the city, the property was originally inspected March 4 and was found to have a number of violations related to the city's Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance.

A breakdown of the five safety violations referenced by Conrad is as follows:

—Exterior wood is deteriorating and needs to be replaced, painted and made weather tight;

—Cracked and/or broken windows and exterior doors are damaged and not secure;

—Ceilings in the house are cracked and ceiling tiles are missing or broken;

—Exterior walls of the house have holes in them, vents are missing covers and there are missing bricks on the exterior that allow rodents into the house; and

—Bricks are missing from the chimney and the chimney is not structurally sound or properly anchored to the house.

Following the March 4 inspection, the house was inspected again April 1 and May 26, with both inspections showing no significant improvement to the noted violations, Conrad explained.

Given the continued lack of progress, Davidhizar was then ordered to have the house brought into compliance with city code by July 30.

However, Conrad indicated Monday that an inspection of the home early that morning revealed little action had been taken to repair the previously discovered violations.

Conrad also noted he recently learned Davidhizar has delegated the repair work to a property manager.

"I spoke with him this morning, and he's trying to make the repairs, but what he's doing, it's not really what I would consider to be workmanlike work," Conrad said of the property manager. "When I did my first inspection, that was back in March, and I worked with him as best I could. He said that because of the weather, it was still kind of cold, and snowing, and he wanted a little bit more time to make the repairs. But here we are in July, and he just started making the repairs a couple days ago."

As such, Conrad said he was recommending that the matter be referred to the city's legal department for enforcement.

Asked by the board's members what options they had for moving forward with the case, city attorney Bodie Stegelmann offered up a number of suggestions.

"The board could either continue this hearing for a couple weeks to give Mr. Davidhizar a chance to appear," Stegelmann said, "you could affirm the order and give a deadline to have all this complied with, 30 days, something like that, or you could refer it to the legal department for enforcement."

When questioned about what such enforcement action might look like, Stegelmann said the process would likely involve the department filing suit against Davidhizar seeking either compliance or fines for failure to correct the ordinance violations.

"And if he refuses, then possibly the appointment of a receiver to take possession of the property, make the repairs, and then bill the property owner," Stegelmann added of the process.

Upon considering the various options, the board's members ultimately decided forwarding the case on to the legal department would be the best option, especially given Davidhizar's recent detachment from the property's repair work.

As such, a motion was put forward and approved unanimously to find the house unfit for human habitation and to forward the matter on to the city's legal department for future enforcement action.

OTHER ACTION

In other action, board members:

—Approved a request by Dustin Sailor, director of public works for the city, for permission to close the Indiana Avenue bridge just north of Wilden Avenue for five days beginning Aug. 2 to allow workers to seal coat the bridge deck.

—Approved a contract with Selking International for the purchase of a 2019 International CV515 SFA ambulance chassis at a cost of $77,100.

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

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