The Marion City Council reviewed its options Monday regarding property at 401 N. Roosevelt and whether to set a public hearing on razing the structure or bringing it up to city codes.
Marty Fredrickson, public safety officer, said a petition was filed against the property, owned by Ray Lindgren, by several surrounding residents.
In the petition it was stated: “(the property) has been a haven for drug activity in the last several years, it is an eyesore and it devalues our property.”
Substantiating claims by neighboring people, Fredrickson provided photographs of the outside of the house, but not the inside because that would require permission from the owner.
“I am aware of the integrity of the water, sewer, gas and electric services,” he said. “One photo taken through a window shows that some of the flooring is missing and some excess trash in one room.”
In addition, he said there is an open crawl space on the south side, but could not find any other immediate public hazards.
“The next step is to set up a public hearing so that the owner or representative can let the council know what plans he or she has to bring the structure to code or when it is planned to be removed,” Fredrickson said.
According to information presented at the meeting, one of the people that owns the property is incarcerated, but does have plans to sell to another person listed.
City Administrator Doug Kjellin said that while two parties are involved, the Marion County Register of Deeds office shows only the original owner.
“There might be an agreement negotiated with a second party and any notification (regarding the property) should go to both,” Kjellin said.
Councilor Todd Heitschmidt said he questioned the legality of informing a second party if the register of deeds office has nothing filed to show change of ownership.
Kjellin said he was going by the city’s ordinance which states that the owner, occupier, mortgagee of record and/or any other party of interest could be notified.
After the council looked over the information, it was decided to notify the owner and second party they had 45 days to bring the house up to code standards or remove it.
Mayor Mary Olson also director the city’s attorney, Susan Robson, to write a letter to one of the petitioners and explain what the council has opted to do.
One councilman suggested the city should “give them a chance” to bring the property into compliance.
Building permit report
Forty building permit applications were issued in 2012, Fredrickson said, translating to a total amount collected in permit fees of $4,455.
The total estimated cost of the projects was $1.6 million, with the co-op grain silo contributing to a majority of that total at $1.1 million, he said.
“Some of the applicants have more than one fee, such as a new residential structure that will have square footage, electrical and plumbing fees,” he said.
The total amount of permits in 2012 was also the highest it’s been in seven years.
In breaking down the numbers, Fredrickson said, 29 permits were issued in 2005; 31 in 2006; 39 in 2007; 21 in 2008; 22 in 2009; 30 in 2010 and 25 in 2011,
The permits included one for a new commercial structure, four new residential, six on plumbing, 21 electric, four demolition, two carports and nine accessory building (unattached garages, as one example).
Fredrickson was also asked to let city crews involved in snow removal know their work was appreciated.
Heitschmidt said: “I want to let Marty and street crews know I (and others) was very pleased with the snow removal process downtown.”
Olson and Councilman Jerry Dieter echoed similar comments.
“We tried doing some things differently,” Fredrickson said. “We look for better and more efficient ways, but if anybody has any comments or ideas, let us know. There is always room for improvement.”
Heitschmidt said would also try to personally get in touch with those involved.
Grant administrator change
Angela Lange, city clerk, said it became necessary to look at another grant administrator to manage its $400,000 Community Development Block Grant for street improvements after probationary action was taken against the current grant administrator with Ransom Financial.
According to Lange, because of this situation the council needs to either go with its second option for a grant administrator, Governmental Assistance Services, or rebid.
“The grant administrator we are currently using had issues with other projects she was working on,” she said. “The cities weren’t actually following the direction recommended to them and she is placed on probation status (for one year).”
She added that the problem was on a municipality-level that caught the administrator in that problem.
Kjellin said the city ignored requests by the administrator to follow a certain timeline.
“Unfortunately, because of that bulling ahead, it caught the administrator up at the same time,” he said. “We still have every confidence in our current administrator and other applications.”
The council, with Chris Meierhoff absent, voted in favor of GAS, assuming they would honor their previous bid.
It was further approved that if GAS doesn’t honor that bid, the staff can go ahead and start the bidding process for the CDBG contract effective June 1.
Kjellin also said that CDBGs, because of federal sequestration coming up would give KDOT three options on how to award the grants.
• keeping all awardees at current levels and finding other funding on the state level;
• an across the board about a 5 percent reduction on all CDBG awards if affected;
• or take in numerical order the awards approved and whoever was the last at selection would have their amount reduced so full amounts could be expended to the other grants.
The council, in other business:
• heard that the paint booth and air exchange system had been removed, leaving three holes in the side of the former Arlie’s building, 828 N. Roosevelt, which is owned by the city. The city will get replacement metal to repair the holes.
n learned the Municipal Airport board met and asked about the beacon, a 1950s model, in need of repair and maintenance.
• discussed the cost associated with installing the new scoreboard purchased through private donations for the ballfields.
• learned about 14 water meters remaining to be installed. The city staff plans to complete those once the ground dries up.
• learned about a discussion at a recent city staff meeting to establish a rental agreement with Hett Construction during snow removal if the city needs an extra dump truck.
• learned the city staff is discussing how best to utilize the atrazine lawsuit money to install a fence around the shop area to secure the yard and water plant, along with cleaning the lagoons out at the water plant.
• approved bid refinance at 828 N. Roosevelt, noting it is a good time to refinance and reduce the city’s effective interest rate.