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City council looks at housing

Staff writer

City council members on Monday considered a trio of housing-related issues.

A Marion house abandoned by its owner will be the subject of a July 9 public hearing to show cause why it should not be condemned and ordered repaired or demolished.

The house, located at 305 S. Lincoln St., has a roof in poor condition and a yard full of trash and debris. Utilities have been disconnected and kitchen and bathroom fixtures were removed by the son of the owner of record, city administrator Roger Holter told council members Monday.

The owner is Joyce Helzer, whose address is Chappell, Nebraska.

Holter said Helzer earlier contacted him to ask if the house could be donated to Marion Land Bank. It was after that date that her son, who lives in the area, was seen removing the fixtures, Holter said.

Since the house doesn’t comply with city code, Holter recommended the house be demolished and the property cleaned up and leveled.

Council members voted unanimously to schedule the hearing.

On a related note, Holter asked commissioners to consider hiring a part time code enforcement building inspector to change the way the city deals with dilapidated buildings.

Council member Chris Costello asked why a change might be needed.

“Is what we’re doing not working?” Costello asked.

City attorney Susan Robson said she works with police officer Duane McCarty to streamline the process.

The existing process is “very formalized” and takes nearly 45 days to enact, Robson said.

The city’s process exceeds state requirements, Holter told the council. The best candidate would be someone retired from the construction field, Holter said.

Council members tabled the issue of hiring a code enforcement and building inspector position.

A plat of property on Coble St. to be developed for housing under a city program that would provide incentives to build houses was approved by council members on the recommendation of the city planning and zoning commission.

Under the program, five middle income families who qualify would get incentives of up to $25,000 each to build new houses along the east side of Coble St. north of Sherman St.

The money will come from a $125,000 grant from Kansas Housing Resources.

Future council meetings may have members attending who aren’t physically present. Council approved the use of electronic media so council members can participate via speakerphone, Skype, or a similar electronic methods.

Last modified May 24, 2018

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