posttrib
SPARKLE 
Weather Updates

Grass cutting for a fee gets OK in Hobart

Updated: June 23, 2013 6:34PM



HOBART — The City Council this week approved a revised ordinance regarding unkempt lawns and considered another that would take aim at the use of blue tarps as roofing material for an extended period of time.

The revised ordinance on lawns reflects new Indiana law that requires only one certified letter be sent to the owner of a property with high grass and weeds before the city has it mowed and bills the property owner for the work.

Building Official Mike Hannigan said the one letter will cover every time the city has to mow the property. He said before, a certified letter had to be sent to the owner each time the city mowed the property.

“If a month later, the property still isn’t mowed, the city can issue another ticket, again and again,” Clerk-Treasurer Deb Longer said.

Hannigan said it costs $7 to send each certified letter.

The city now mows the property in-house with public works department employees instead of hiring an outside company as before. The cost to the property owner is $30 an hour per person mowing. If the fee isn’t paid within 30 days, a lien can be placed on the property.

Hannigan said the city has had to mow six lawns so far this year. Most of the unkempt properties are vacant.

“The problem these days is we can’t even track whose responsible for the houses. There are so many foreclosures. In the meantime, the grass keeps growing and growing,” Councilman John Brezik, D-5th, said.

Mayor Brian Snedecor said a potential ordinance could be to require banks to notify the city if it owns a
vacant property.

“Mike (Hannigan) occasionally gets calls from banks asking if we have that requirement,” Snedecor said.

Councilman Dave Vinzant, D-4th, said some residents have been reroofing their houses with blue tarps.

“If the tarps are on for 30 days, fine, but some are on a year or so,” Vinzant said.

He said Code Enforcement Officer Ken Gagliardi told him when these homeowners are taken to court now, the judge says they may be ugly, but there is no law on the books that says they can’t do it.

“Ken wants something with some teeth in it,” Hannigan said.

“We need to eliminate blue tarps, but do I take someone to court and fine them if they don’t have the $6,000 for a new roof,” Hannigan asked.

Vinzant said the city judge can handle the pay issue and Councilman Jerry Herzog, D-1st, said there are programs available to help people in these instances.

The council also agreed to return the current part-time secretary position in the Hobart Fire Department back to full-time.

Snedecor said the city has been putting administrators in the department back on shift work, leaving only three people in administrative positions, and that number will be cut to two as the assistant chief position won’t be replaced when Fire Chief Brian Taylor retires at the end of the month.

Retired firefighter Terry Norman serves as secretary of the department.



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.