Crothersville targets unkempt properties



Since being elected to the Crothersville Town Council, Chad Wilson has heard a variety of residents’ concerns.

Of all of the issues, he said one is brought up the most — the number of properties that look bad in town.

Plywood covering windows, paint peeling off of homes and businesses and abandoned properties are among the problems residents would like to see addressed.

“We have three businesses within one block of the stoplight that have plywood covering windows,” Wilson said. “It’s ugly. It’s unprofessional. What message are we trying to convey when people drive through our town? Is that the look that we’re trying to convey in our town?”

The town has a nuisance ordinance that addresses unsightly or neglected properties, and an unsafe building committee investigates buildings and residences that aren’t structurally sound.

Wilson said a handful of letters recently were sent out to property owners found to be in violation of the ordinance.

But one of the biggest issues — plywood covering windows — is not included in that ordinance. So Wilson and some other council members agreed maybe it’s time to make some revisions.

Council member Danieta Foster said she thinks businesses should be held to a higher standard, suggesting there be separate standards in an ordinance for commercial and residential properties.

Town attorney Jeff Lorenzo said an ordinance can be created to outline the standards, and if a property owner is found in violation, they could be given a certain amount of time to comply.

“You have a standard that you want your businesspeople to meet — we want glass in the windows, we want to get rid of the plywood, whatever it is,” Lorenzo said. “Then you pass that ordinance and whatever the statutory time limit you decide on, I would say six months to a year, to comply.”

With some of the buildings in town having historical significance, Foster said she wondered if grant money was available to help owners make improvements.

One option is applying for a façade program. Through that program, downtown business owners in Seymour and North Vernon were able to make improvements to the outside of their buildings in recent years. In those instances, business owners provide a funding match.

Also, the Indiana Department of Transportation offers a local project administration program, which funds sidewalks, streetscape and lighting in communities. That requires a local match.

Wilson said the council could ask the town’s grant consultant, Trena Carter with Administrative Resources association, about those possibilities at the next meeting, set for 6 p.m. April 6 at Crothersville Town Hall.

Wilson said he just wants to see progress on making the town look more appealing.

“If we’re wanting to bring in business, if we’re wanting to bring in people to live in our town, if we’re wanting people to move in and set up shop here in town, but yet they look at this … we’re sending the wrong image,” he said of the unsightly properties.

“I know we’re a new board, and we’ve been spending a lot of our time on other issues,” he added. “I just think we need to start looking at the ordinance, revise it if we have to, readdress some of these issues that (the council) has addressed in the past, and then just make sure these people know that we’re really serious about making our town look better.”

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