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County terminates demolition subsidy

Staff writer

A Marion County program to assist with costs for demolition disposal was terminated Monday by the Marion County Commission, over concerns the program was not meeting its original intent.

The Marion County Waste Reduction Plan was intended to provide incentive for demolition of dilapidated properties by subsidizing removal of demolition waste.

“In 2010 our total number of tons was 43.81, and in 2011 it was more than double, so I think the word has spread and there’s a demand for it,” Planning and Zoning Department Director Tonya Richards said, noting seven applications have been received for 2012.

“It’s just if you think it’s being used for the right purposes,” Richards added.

“You just hit the point — is it being used for the right purpose of what we originally set out?” Commissioner Randy Dallke said. “Our goal was to help somebody out that really didn’t have the money to spend $5,000 for that.”

“Most of these would have been cleaned up either way,” Transfer Station Director Rollin Scmidt said. “Most of them last year, it was not incentive, this program was icing on the cake.”

The discussion focused on the difficulties of determining what kinds of properties should qualify, and whether some applicants should be excluded from the program based on their financial status.

Dallke held up a picture of a home which had burned and was rebuilt in 2008, whose owners were approved to use the demolition disposal program.

“I thought there was insurance money, and I’m not willing to spend tax money on that,” Dallke said.

Dallke displayed another picture.

“This property is worth at least $50–$60,000, with or without that house. If I’ve got $60,000 to buy this house, I don’t think the county’s tax dollars should be taking care of it,” Dallke said.

“We don’t have a good guideline, and I don’t want to determine it,” Dallke said.

“Every single property that applied and was on a first-come, first-served basis, they qualified. I didn’t really have any rules,” Richards said.

“I’m not willing to sit here and determine if you have money and you don’t, we’ll pay for yours. I think that’s being discriminatory,” Commissioner Roger Fleming said.

“We either have to allow it or not allow it based on condition, not affordability,” Fleming concluded.

“What if something’s already down on the ground — do we want that to qualify?” Richards asked.

“Maybe we want to limit the amount of tonnage per application,” Commissioner Roger Fleming said.

Fleming was concerned about a business that qualified because the property was listed in the name of the owner, and not the business.

“My opinion is to not include commercial properties,” Fleming said. “We’re talking about residential buildings only.”

“Why can’t we do a habitability study, and we’ll make the call here,” Commission Chariman Dan Holub said.

“If we had a rule that it was dilapidated or blighted, that would take care of that,” Richards said.

Even with a standardized set of rules, Richards anticipated challenges.

“You’re going to have people requesting a special exception to a rule right and left,” Richards said.

“We’ve been talking for 20 minutes, and there’s an exception everywhere,” Holub said.

“I feel like we ought to just eliminate the program,” Fleming said, making the motion to terminate it.

“I’d like to help people that need the help, but I will second your motion,” Dallke said.

The commissioners voted unanimously to eliminate the program.

Last modified Jan. 26, 2012

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