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Hobart pushes for faster cleanup of farmhouse

Updated: May 5, 2013 2:54PM



HOBART — The Board of Public Works will await a report from building inspector Mike Hannigan on the cleanup progress being made by the family of farmer Bob Berndt before deciding if the family must come before the board again and possibly move faster in its efforts.

Hannigan is to make his report at the April 17 board meeting. Hannigan asked the board for direction at its meeting Wednesday, saying the matter has been in limbo for months.

“There is no time frame. I have nothing to go on,” said Hannigan, adding that much cleanup work remains at the farmer’s house in the 6800 block of Grand Avenue. “The work’s not done by any means. It’s a long way from occupancy.”

Berndt’s house and his farm across Grand Avenue in the same block have drawn numerous complaints from neighbors and the city. Both properties were littered with large garbage bags filled with trash, old equipment, vehicles and other debris that have been removed.

The house had no heat or water and a hole in its roof, which animals could get through before it was repaired. The yard of the residence attracted a large number of feral cats that were removed last summer.

Berndt, 80, was ordered to clean up the house and property and fence in the cows on his farm. The fence has been installed, but the house remains full of trash and is uninhabitable, city officials said. Berndt was ordered to leave several months ago.

Board member Thomas Ehrhardt said the property has seen significant improvement.

Mayor Brian Snedecor said he saw family members remove items from the house but conceded they probably aren’t moving as fast as the city expects. He said that could be attributed to some family members not living in the area.

City attorney Anthony DeBonis said the board had asked the family to report back after the first of the year. He said he recently turned down a legal claim by Berndt, who contended that the city owes him money for destroying some of his equipment.



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