Residents battle city over property rights

RICHMOND, Indiana (WDTN)– Homeowners form a watchdog group after many receive a letter from the city notifying them their homes will be demolished if repairs aren’t made within 30 days.

Virginia Roark has lived in Richmond for 72 years,  “I wanted to leave this to my children, and it’s just very sad that you can’t do that with the city of Richmond.”

According to the letter she opened March 11, 2014, the home her father built when she was two years old will be torn down in 30 days. If she and her husband don’t hire someone to demolish it, she said the city will do it.

Don Nordstrom bought his home three years ago.

“I came down here 30 years ago, and I fell in love with this city, and I always told myself that when I retired, I wanted to buy a historic home down here. And I did. I love this house.”

Nordstrom also received a letter from the city, only his was different from Roark’s letter. The letter outlined the city codes his home allegedly violated.

It also stated his home would be demolished if he failed to act– even extending an opportunity for him to sell the house to a nonprofit organization and the Richmond Historic Preservation Commission.

Nordstrom was encouraged to contact Tony Foster, the City of Richmond Executive Director, for more information.

He was later told this letter was a hoax, and not sent by anyone working for the city of Richmond.

Wednesday night, residents met with the Institute for Justice, a national non-profit public interest law firm.

The group worked to equip homeowners with strategies to protect their property.

Some of the homeowners present were on the list for demolition, while others had received letters about required repairs.

Many homeowners had complaints regarding the city’s vague instruction on what to repair, and how to do it.

There were some city leaders in attendance, including City Council member Phillip Quinn.

“There’s a lot of miscommunication, a lot of personal attacks that have been coming through different parts of the office. We do need to leave that at the door, and try to come together and figure out what the best way to figure out what the correct process is that we can all get along with.”

Quinn supported tonight’s meeting, and believed it to be a great first step in creating a cleaner process for targeting unsafe homes.

 

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