Mark Gidley, a member of the Plymouth Board of Zoning Appeals asked a question on unsafe buildings during last week’s meeting.  He said he thought there was a committee that both the city and county participated in and cooperated on about unsafe buildings. He asked if that group was still active and working.  

There is a countywide committee called the Marshall County Unsafe Building and Property Board. This board has representatives from all the communities in the county including County Commissioner Mike Burroughs, County Council representative and local realtor Jim Masterson, Kathy Schwenk from the Bowen Center, Lisa Mullaney the Argos Town Clerk, Kim Berger the Bourbon Town Clerk, Bill Cleavenger from the Culver Town Council, Ryan Young from the LaPaz Town Council, the Bremen Town Manager and Dennis Manuwal the Plymouth Building Commissioner.

The Unsafe Structures Board is a quasi-judicial advisory committee, which reviews the decision of Building Officials regarding buildings considered unsafe.  The Unsafe Structures Board initially met monthly to hear cases submitted by the Building Officials or through appeals requested by homeowners or other interested parties, although their meetings have moved to every other month with their next meeting on Tuesday, October 10th at 1:30 in the second-floor meeting room of the County Building. 

Gidley asked about a home on Lincoln Highway that is just outside of the city limits where the roof is caving in and there is an abandoned car behind it.  (11816 Lincoln Hwy…deeded owner James A. Berndt from Bremen)  He asked Building Commissioner, Dennis Manuwal if that home needed to be brought up to the countywide committee or could the city inspector handle it. 

Manual said since the home is not in the city limits, he could make a recommendation to County Building Inspector, Steve Howard. 

Gidley asked who got the property owner to mow and Manuwal said he was able to get that accomplished.  Gidley said in another year the whole roof will cave in. 

Gidley said, “I’m hung up about this.  These entrances to town need to look better. This mess north of town, out here where this guy has this fence made from pallets as you are coming out of the round-a-bout and into town, that is an absolute eye sore for the city of Plymouth and so it that thing out there on Lincolnway.”  Gidley said coming in from the south the entrance doesn’t look too bad, but from two directions, the town’s a mess.  It doesn’t do the town a bit of good to have that mess north of town or the mess east of town.”

(7469 North Michigan Road…deeded owners Lonnie & Bryon Stutler of Plymouth)

Gidley said, “Those kinds of issues need to be addressed.”  Understanding that the city has a new building inspection he asked him to take some time to address the city issues.

City Attorney Sean Surrisi gave an example of how issues are handled.  Since the city doesn’t have unsafe building jurisdiction outside the city limits but within the city limits it is up to the building commissioner who is the city’s enforcement authority.  He said, “He is the one who decides that the structure is unsafe and notifies the property owner of his decision.  In certain instances, the city can request them to demolish the home.  There is a hearing process, and the Board of Public Works and Safety is the hearing authority. In the county, the joint board conducts a hearing for properties outside the incorporated areas with the county’s building inspector making the determination the structure is unsafe.