Town looks to enforce property maintenance standards


BROWNSTOWN — Members of the Brownstown Town Council and officers with the police department plan to begin looking for properties in town that could use some improvements.

Suggested improvements will be based on an ordinance enacted by the council in April that puts building maintenance standards in place. Those standards govern inoperable vehicles, rodent infestations, unsightly yards, including tall grass and weeds, and blighted and abandoned buildings.

Councilman Tim Robinson discussed the ordinance during Tuesday evening’s council meeting at the town hall.

Robinson said starting Oct. 1, the town’s police officers will be investigating potential violations of the ordinances. They will then report their findings to the town council, which will in turn make a determination about any alleged violations.

He said he plans to meet with officers to discuss how the process of notifying property owners of alleged violations will work.

Letters will be sent to property owners, who will be given a certain length of time to start making improvements before facing a potential fine of up to $100 for the first offense and $200 for repeat offenses.

The ordinance requires the exterior of every premise and structure to be maintained in good repair and kept free of all nuisances, health, safety and fire hazards, unsanitary conditions and infestation. That includes not allowing weeds and/or grass to grow to a height of 10 inches on average or allowing any accumulation of weeds or grass on any nonagriculturally zoned property and not allowing refuse to accumulate to the prejudice of others.

It also prohibits any structure that is in such a dilapidated condition that it is unfit for human habitation and for the use it was constructed; inoperable motorized vehicles exposed to public view and vehicles parked on any unpaved surface and exposed to public view; and conditions that are conducive to the harborage/breeding of vermin.

The ordinance further requires that every building shall be maintained to be weather and watertight and free from conditions suggestive of deterioration or inadequate maintenance; inoperable vehicles to be within a fully enclosed building or removed; and all refuse to be contained in suitable containers, kept free from infestation and removed weekly.

In a letter posted on the town’s Facebook page, property owners are being asked by the council to look at their properties to see if anything needs to be addressed. For a copy of the ordinance, contact the town hall at 812-358-5500.

In an unrelated matter, the council approved the first two payments, totaling $321,463, to Veregy for a guaranteed energy savings project. That project involves converting the town’s wastewater treatment plant from electricity to solar power and more than 230 streetlights from sodium vapor to LED. The projects have a combined price tag of $913,632.

The project is expected to produce more than $1,330,298 over 20 years.

Clerk-Treasurer David Willey said the first two payments mostly involved the purchase of equipment and materials by Veregy. The company, which conducted a similar project in North Vernon, is based in Phoenix, Arizona, but has an Indianapolis office.

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