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Concerns highlight meeting

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Stacy Gibbens
A couple of residents made sure their concerns were heard during Wednesday's meeting of the Common Council of the City of Brazil.

Citing the recent methamphetamine-related arrest April 22 as a tipping point, Garry McNeil approached the council with concerns about homes south of Hendrix Street and east of State Road 59.

"I'm new to this, but I am upset and (the council) will see me a lot more often," McNeil told the council. "I'm concerned about the number of empty homes in the city, the number of lots with high grass and animals running loose around town."

McNeil told the council he conducted an informal survey of the homes in his immediate area, and while he found there were nine homeowners, there were eight empty homes and three additional empty lots.

"These are problems that are not just limited to Brazil, but they are happening in areas like Terre Haute and Indianapolis as well," he said. "Maybe we need to come up with some new ideas for solutions, especially for what to do about all the empty houses."

McNeil added he had called City Hall numerous times, but had never received a response.

City Planning Administrator Stacy Gibbens said when she receives a message regarding a blighted property or high grass, she typically goes straight to work on attempting to correct the issue.

"According to city ordinances, grass must be 8-inches high before we can send a letter to the property owner, and even on properties in which the city cuts the grass, we can only do it once a month," she said. "We put a lien on the properties we cut, but even the people who buy one during tax sales don't always take care of them."

Resident Tim Paullus said Mayor Ann Bradshaw has responded to all his complaint calls, but was curious about another issue which has been up in the air for more than a decade.

"I was told about 15 years ago that an engineer was working on a storm sewer project near the intersection of SR 59 and South Pine Street," Paullus said. "Every time it rains, water flows up into the yards, and to this point nothing has been done about it."

Bradshaw collected contact information from Paullus and told him she would be sending out workers to the area Thursday to discuss the situation with him further.

Paullus also brought up concerns about the number of stray animals in the city, along with inquiring if there are occupancy limits.

"We have had a stabbing in the area, and I am concerned about two-room houses that have six to nine people living in them," he said.

City Attorney Bob Pell said he was unsure if there is an ordinance on the books in reference to maximum occupancy, but added there may also be a question of the legality of having such an ordinance.

While at the meeting to inform the council of concerns, McNeil said he didn't want to be completely negative.

"The Street Department does a really good job," he said. "But we need to come up with new solutions because industry doesn't want to come to a city that is blighted like Brazil, even though these problems are not just happening here."

The next meeting of the Common Council of the City of Brazil is 7 p.m., Wednesday, June 9, in the Council Chambers at City Hall.

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I believe Paullus said Jackson and Pine streets.

-- Posted by Dagnabbit on Thu, May 13, 2010, at 5:41 PM

an empty house OH MY GOD, I have a idea find something to do in your spare time

-- Posted by Thorn44 on Thu, May 13, 2010, at 11:00 PM

I believe there is a limit on how many people can stay in a home based on sewer usage, 2 people to bedroom, increase the landlords sewer fees, its the Slum Lords not the citys problem, vote in Arizona's new law and solve many of Brazil's problems

-- Posted by smallguysmalltown on Fri, May 14, 2010, at 8:11 AM

Senator Mike Delph said on the news today he is going to introduce legislation just as Arizona for the state of Indiana, he is tired of seeing American citizens taken advantage of and their systems abused. If I sought work in another country I would do it legally, otherwise it is bound to fail. All the bleeding hearts out there, save it -- We must protect our laws and uphold them, if you don't agree I hear Mexico has plenty of places for rent.

-- Posted by Ombudsman on Fri, May 14, 2010, at 8:22 AM

Thor44, Do you live around any empty houses? I live around 4 of them. The grass gets high, then you have insects like crazy, maybe a snake or two, wild animals getting inside of them, kids getting inside of them. Before you know it the windows are busted out and it just goes on from there!! Do you care about what your neighborhood looks like? I know I do! We have cut the grass at these houses just so we dont have to put up with the bugs and snakes. I bet you just turn your head!! Have a great day!

-- Posted by dogslove on Fri, May 14, 2010, at 11:11 AM

Most of the empty houses are in foreclosure. As long as the property is tied up in the foreclosure process there will not be any maintenance done to the property. Legally the property is still the responsibility of the owner until the foreclosure process is completed. Once the foreclosure process is completed then the property is placed with a clearing house company and listed with a local realtor. at that time the house will be "trashed out" and the grass mowed. Unfortunately this process takes several months to complete.

Pointing fingers at Stacy, the mayor or the city council is not the answer. There is very little to nothing they can do about this problem of blighted houses. This is a problem that is plaguing every community in North America. Not just Brazil Indiana.

In response to Thorn44 comment - maybe in all that spare time the neighbors of these homes could take turns mowing the grass at those homes. Or is it that life is WWAAYYY easier when you sit in a meeting and complain than it is to take positive action for the benefit of all. I mowed the front lawn of a home in my neighbor hood because it made my house look bad. I know of another person doing it this summer.

-- Posted by jddriver4960 on Fri, May 14, 2010, at 11:16 AM

Brazil has been a trashy town as long as I can remember. I don't think anything will be done any time soon. I appreciate the mayor and administration wanting to improve the city but in the end it is the residents that have to take the action. We have too many "hillbillys" to make much difference.

-- Posted by no1special on Fri, May 14, 2010, at 12:25 PM

Great name for you, "no1special', keep it.

As for McNeil's comment:

"... I am concerned about two-room houses that have six to nine people living in them,"

I'm sure the explanation could ALSO be that multi-families are starting to live in the same home and share expenses .. because it's easier financially than maintaining a home, yard, prop taxes alone or as a single parent. Please don't make this a race thing, because it isn't.

That said, I do not condone irresponsibility. If you own the house (live there or not), the yard should at LEAST be mowed and the house checked regularly for vandalism.

I see many empty house owners who know if they don't cut the grass, someone will (eventually)- we have to or our property is at risk (infestation, snakes, mosquitos, etc) - it isn't because we WANT to, that's for sure!

Without severe penalties for not keeping property maintained, this will continue as it has.

-- Posted by Emmes on Fri, May 14, 2010, at 1:38 PM

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