Council discusses dangerous properties

The Hillsboro City Coun?cil agreed at its July 21 meeting to send certified letters of notice to the owners of four ?unsafe and dangerous? properties who have yet to comply with previous directives from the city to repair or remove those properties.

City Attorney Josh Boehm reported that Ben Steketee, the city?s code-enforcement officer, reported he had not issued any building permits related to property repairs, nor has he been asked to inspect any of the properties in keeping with the six-month deadline the council imposed.

Three of the properties are residential structures located at 108 S. Cedar St., 206 W. B St., and 310 N. Wash?ington St. The fourth property is the former Prime Time convenience store located in the 200 block of East D Street.

The council passed the original resolutions regarding the three residential properties during its Feb. 3 meeting. The resolution regarding the Prime Time location was approved Feb. 17.

?At this point, it appears that no action has taken place,? City Administrator Larry Paine said. ?None of the parties have contacted the city about their plans to renovate or remove the properties.?

Boehm raised the question about how the city would wish to abate those properties if city action is required. He said the city could raze the properties, but the cost of doing so would be borne by the city.

Paine asked if it was legally possible for the city to take ownership of the property once an unsafe structure has been removed, then recoup some of the expense by selling the lot.

Boehm said the city could take ownership ?probably as a settlement with the landowner.?

Boehm said the letter to the landowners will inform them that the council will hold a public hearing on the issue at its Aug. 18 meeting.

In other business, the council approved a change order authorizing Maguire Iron Inc. of Sioux Falls, S.D., to replace a leaking segment of the city?s small water tower for an additional $37,980. The order would increase the cost of the total project to $197,340.

The council declined a change order to spend an additional $3,000 to paint ?Hillsboro? in 33-inch letters on the tank at the top of the tower.

The project is being partially paid for with a $103,500 grant through the state?s Heritage Trust Fund. The city originally applied for the grant to make routine repairs to the tower?s tank. The 1927 water tower is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Councilor Shelby Dirks was absent from the meeting.