Crown Point to inspect vacant properties for safety
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent March 28, 2013 11:18PM
Updated: May 1, 2013 3:13PM
CROWN POINT — Inspections are on the way for commercial buildings in the city vacant for more than one year.
City Councilman Robert Clemons, R-2, made a pitch Thursday to the Crown Point City Council for a new city ordinance that would create a mechanism for the city to inspect these buildings for safety reasons so first responders know what to expect if there is ever an emergency at the location.
“I think we should be able to go in and look and make sure they are structurally sound,” Clemons said.
Mayor David Uran agreed. He said the city would be able to track how long a property was vacant by the date in which utility services were stopped, among other things. He said the city should be able to check these properties for safety and to make sure they are not being entered by people who should not be there.
“It’s very important for our fire, police and building inspectors to get in there,” Uran said.
Fire Chief Greg DeLor said the Indiana state fire code allows for the inspection of dilapidated structures, but the problem can be finding the owner, especially if the property has been taken by the bank.
A local ordinance would make the procedure simpler. DeLor said the fire department is aware of a handful of buildings in the city that are unsafe. One of those buildings is the former Lake County Florist and Greenhouse, which is property owned by City Councilman Bill Feder’s family.
“There are several others flagged defensive only,” DeLor said, meaning firefighters will respond to protect the adjacent properties and manage the fire from outside but will not go into the building to actively fight the fire. DeLor said he will not put a firefighter’s life in danger for a building that is already a loss.
Uran said the city would work to take immediate action on the properties that DeLor has already identified while the ordinance committee comes up with an inspection ordinance that can be used in the long-term.