Residents will need to remove fence, council decides

The Hillsboro City Council decided at their July 5 meeting that the retaining wall on Ray and Viola Lohrentz?s property at 404 Briarwood Lane in Carriage Hills must be removed after all.

The issue was first discussed at the council?s June 20 meeting. Part of the Lohrentzes? wall was built on the city?s right-of-way. The Lohrentzes said the Carriage Hills Architectural Committee had seen the plans and that City Superintendent Johnnie Liles had inspected the footings for the wall. Neither party had informed them the wall would violate city ordinances.

Kermit Dirksen, city inspector, was out of town at the time and was not available to review the project.

?I try to always at least review with people what we can expect to see happen,? Dirksen said at Wednesday?s meeting.

Dirksen said he never saw any plans with the wall on it.

Viola Lohrentz told the council the plans were given to Mayor Delores Dalke, who is one of the Carriage Hills developers, before they started building the wall. She said the project was explained to Dalke and to the Carriage Hills Architectural Committee.

?We would have definitely stopped if we knew there was a problem with it,? Lohrentz said.

Because of her association with Carriage Hills, Dalke left the meeting for the discussion and decision.

By law, the city is not responsible for a failure to make an inspection and does not have to pay the costs to rectify the situation.

?When you look at the law itself, sometimes I don?t think that?s ethical,? said Leonard Coryea, council member. ?Sometimes you don?t know that. Sometimes you assume, ?I did the right thing.??

All council members agreed they were sorry the situation occurred.

?I am very sorry it happened,? said Clariece Schroeder, council member. ?Under the circumstances, we can?t allow (the wall to stand).?

She was concerned about setting precedent by allowing the wall to remain in place in the city?s right-of-way.

?Now, beyond that, how we can soften it a bit?? she added. ?We will have to discuss it.?

Member Wendell Dirks agreed the council could not allow any structures to be built in a setback.

Member Mike Padgett said the council needed to know what it will cost to remove the wall before considering some financial assistance.

?I think multiple mistakes were made and I question how much was the city?s fault,? Padgett said.

He asked Lohrentz to tell the council how much it will cost to remove the concrete fence.

The council voted 3-1 to have the portion of the wall in the setback removed within 60 days. They will decide later if any repayment is made for the costs. Coryea opposed the motion because he felt the issues of removing the wall and offering repayment could not be separated.

?I still think we were players in this,? Coryea said.

In other business, the council discussed a grant affecting housing in Hillsboro.

Council members looked at a CDBG Housing Grant, which would provide a maximum of $17,000 per unit for rehabilitation and $6,500 per unit for demolition. The total amount of the grant would not exceed $300,000.

The grant would be available to the same areas in the Neighborhood Revitalization Plan. A minimum of 20 homes is required to apply for the grant.

?It?s a huge opportunity to do a lot of work,? Dalke said.

The grant would pay for such things as new heating and cooling systems, plumbing repairs and roofing that would bring a house up to code. The homeowner has to pay 10 percent of the repair costs. If the house is a rental, the owner must match 50 percent.

To be eligible, families must have a low to moderate income. If the house is a rental, the renters must be of low to moderate income.

The council decided it was a good program and voted to continue the application process. Rose Mary Saunders, of Reiss and Goodness Engineers, is willing to write the grant and expressed her hope to be the administrator if the city receives the grant.

The city will send letters out to residents who are eligible for the program. City Inspector Dirksen would do initial inspections and determine what needs to be done to each home.

?This is really a good deal, but it would be a lot of work,? Dalke said.

The application must be in by Sept. 1. Grants will be announced Nov. 1. The city also has to schedule a public hearing.

In other matters, the council:

n received the 1999 audit report. All funds were within the adopted budget for expenditures and no statutory violations were cited.

n received the attorney general?s opinion on renting city-owned equipment. According to the opinion, no city equipment can be rented to private individuals for private use.

n decided to hold a traditional picnic for city employees in the park, but to look into including more activities, such as a holding a golf tournament or putting up volleyball nets.

n is considering different methods for striping D Street. Wendell Dirks will check different types of paint to see if there is one that will last longer.

n was informed Peabody did not need to sign the addendum to the water treatment and supply contract, so the city will not pursue getting it signed.

n was presented with a draft ordinance to establish the new hearing and abatement procedures for dangerous structures and nuisance conditions. The council will look over the ordinance and discuss it at the next meeting.

n looked at different options for putting in electrical and water lines in Prairie Point. The council decided only to put in the first portion of the line because of cost, which will create a dead end. The project will be put up for bid.

The council will discuss the electric lines at a future meeting.

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