Roanoke TC fines resident for bldg. code violation

The Roanoke Town Council handed out a hefty fine to a resident for failing to resolve building code violations at her home during its meeting on Tuesday, June 20.

The board assessed Casandra Emley, the occupant of 775 Seminary St., with a $5,000 civil penalty for willful failure to comply with a continuing order of enforcement from the Huntington Countywide Department of Community Development (DCD) that details what needs to be corrected at her property, which she is buying on contract.

Council voted to level the penalty upon hearing an assessment of the property by Mandy Woods and Greg Ricker, executive director and building inspector, respectively, with DCD.

The pair inspected the property earlier that day, which was designated by council at its Dec. 20 meeting last year as the deadline to comply with the continuing order of enforcement. Woods and Ricker noted that Emley had made some headway on resolving the violations, but refused to label that progress as “substantial” when asked by council.

Regarding the $5,000 fine, Adrian Halverstadt, the town’s legal counsel, stated that Emley would have 15 days to pay it. If the fine goes unpaid, it will be assessed as a lien against the property and added to the fall property tax bill.

Emley’s bill already features a $1,000 fine, also for willful failure to comply, that was issued by the board on Oct. 18 last year. After that penalty was mistakenly left off the spring property tax bill, it will be included on the fall statement, said Halverstadt.

Going forward, Halverstadt explained that council has the authority to assess another $5,000 fine in 90 days if it remains unsatisfied with Emley’s progress. The board can then continue to issue penalties in 90-day intervals for as long as it deems necessary.

Council’s next step, said President Dave Tucker, will be to compile a list of improvements it would like to see made to the house’s exterior and identify building materials that have been on the property for longer than town code allows.

In other business:

• Phil Hibbert, the town’s supervisor of operations, reported that the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) had informed him that it would not be requiring the town to remove construction debris from a contaminated lagoon nearby the town’s wastewater treatment plant.

With that task waived, the cost of cleaning up the lagoon — IDEM wants to see heavy metals removed from its depths — drops significantly. Earlier this year, Hibbert estimated the savings could be as much as $800,000.

• Councilman John Stoeckley informed the board that he had argued in favor of keeping Roanoke Elementary School open during an appearance before the Huntington County Community Sc-hool Corporation Board of School Trustees at a public work session on June 5.
The school corporation is considering closing Roanoke Elementary as it contemplates how to handle declining enrollments along with anticipated repairs on aging school buildings.

• Assistant Utility Superintendent John Hitzemann informed council that he would be postponing his retirement from July 6 to August.

• The board voted to replace the town hall’s broken water heater with a new one. Council opted to replace the unit rather than repair it due to its age.

• Clerk-Treasurer Jo-Anne Kirchner noted that the board’s next meeting would be on Wednesday, July 5, due to the July 4 holiday. The meeting will be at the town hall at 7 p.m.