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 Adams Street Property Draws Complaints

July 30, 2008 - The condition of a property on North Adams Street was the subject of citizen complaints at the Knightstown Town Council's July 17 meeting.

Town resident Kay Denny told council members she has been waiting five years for the town to do something about the property at 445 N. Adams St., which abuts her property on East Morgan Street. She said the backyard's overgrown vegetation is home to skunks and raccoons, and said that a 53-inch black snake had also recently been found in the area.

"When the 53-inch snake moved into her garage … last Saturday," Denny said, motioning toward Maxine Clark, who lives just north of the problem property, "I'd had enough.".

"I had too," Clark told the council. "I have great-grandchildren - little ones - that come and play in my backyard, and I'm not going to put up with it. Now, you've got a 53-inch snake crawling around and I think Mr. South saw it. " Council Vice President Clyde South said he had seen the snake.

"It is a health issue," Denny said. "I think it should have been condemned at the time. … It's a health issue." She said the odor from skunks had been so bad the night before, even with the windows closed, that she was unable to sleep.

"Right now, I'm not concerned about the house," Clark said. "I'm concerned about that yard. That's what's bothering me. I think it's the obligation of you board members to come there and look at it and you'll see what we're talking about."

The town's attorney, Gregg Morelock, advised the council that a local ordinance permits the town to mow the property's backyard five days after notice has been sent to the property owner. He also said the town's abandoned vehicle ordinance should permit removal of an inoperable vehicle in the backyard.

Chief of Police Danny Baker told the council that there are also dead animal carcasses in the backyard. Morelock suggested calling the county health department or a private rendering service for their removal.

Morelock told the council that the estate of the deceased person who had lived there has abandoned the property and that a mortgage company may now be the legal owner and need to be contacted. Council President Valerie Trump told Denny and Clark that the town should be working on cleaning up the property by the end of the following week.

Council member Terry Guerin also noted that some citizens had expressed concern about a pole barn structure built on North Adams Street. After some discussion about a local historic preservation group that has been inactive for years, Guerin agreed to research the issue of establishing historic preservation or conservation districts in town.

There was also brief discussion about town finances at the outset of the meeting. Guerin said the council had not been advised by any town department heads that they are having problems dealing with budget cuts approved in late May.

"The anticipation the council has is that those figures in their budgets are firm and if (department heads) need to be making adjustments within their budgets to stay within those figures, they should begin to do it," Guerin said. Trump said she agreed.

South said he would like department heads to provide quarterly financial reports showing where each department is within its budget, how much has been spent and how much is left for the year. Trump said she thought that was a reasonable request and suggested that this would be part of the regular departmental reports.

Council member Steve Nelson said he thought the town's utilities should also give similar financial reports. "I think all departments should be held accountable," he said. Guerin said he agreed and South said he was not opposed to including utilities.

In other business, South said he'd had several complaints about dogs and cats running loose. He recommended that the town begin enforcing its animal licensing ordinance.

Baker told the council he began enforcing the ordinance a couple of weeks earlier after a mail carrier had been bitten. He said the KPD was advising people of the town licensing fee and immunization requirements for animals and giving them 48 hours to comply.

To advise the public of these requirements, Baker said he planned to send officers door-to-door handing out copies of the ordinance, and that he also planned to put something in The Banner. Morelock suggested the town include a message on utility customers' bills, and Trump said that would be done for bills sent out in August.

South also told the council he thought they should revisit the issue of whether the town should have a single trash hauling service for town residents. While he said he had been opposed to such a plan when proposed a couple of years ago, he said a long-term agreement at a reasonable cost might in the best interest of the town and its citizens.

Trump, who supported moving to a single service provider when the issue came up before, said she agreed it was something that should be reconsidered. South and Weber agree to serve on a committee that will look into the matter.

Guerin noted that he works as a governmental affairs representative for a solid waste company in Indiana and Michigan and, at times, as a lobbyist for the industry in both states. He said there may be times when he would need to abstain from votes related to this issue, but noted that he generally does not support taking away the right of residents to choose their own service provider.

The council also approved a $135 an hour contract with Morelock that runs through the end of 2008. Beginning in January, the hourly rate will increase to $150.


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