Hobart board gives resident new deadline to patch up house
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent May 15, 2013 10:14PM
Updated: June 20, 2013 6:25AM
HOBART — The Board of Public Works on Wednesday gave the family of farmer Robert Berndt until July 17 to have his house at 6851 Grand Blvd. in compliance with city codes, with the possibility of a 30-day extension if recommended by city staff.
The 80-year-old Berndt and his children and stepson have been an ongoing item on the Board of Works agenda since September, when the board told Berndt he must clean the inside and outside of his residential property, clear debris and fence in his cows on his farmland across Grand Boulevard.
At the time, Berndt’s yard was cluttered with garbage bags, attracting dozens of feral cats, and his house had no running water or furnace and there was a hole in the roof.
The board told the family the house would have to be rehabbed or demolished.
Berndt’s son, Robert Berndt II of Kokomo, said they replaced the bad portion of roof last week, and they’re testing for mold and replacing the furnace. He said they’ve received a bid for $3,000 to get the water service restored.
“We want to make the house safe if my dad’s going to live there, or for whoever else lives there,” Berndt II said.
He said his brother-in-law, Jim Selby, was doing most of the manual labor and pointed out that work on the house was diverted when Selby had to turn his attention to installing a fence at the family farm at the city’s orders.
City officials said the free-roaming cows posed a safety hazard.
“It sounds like there’s a plan. The city just wishes this would have happened three, four or five months ago,” Mayor Brian Snedecor told the family.
Snedecor added the city doesn’t want to get off-track from its timeline.
Board member Rich Lain, who has been working with the family on the timeline, said the main purpose is to give Berndt a livable housing situation.
Berndt II said the residential property, when completed, will be of more value to the city with the house on it.