FILLMORE -- After more than a year of discussion, the Fillmore Town Council took action in a big way at its April meeting, passing four ordinance proposals into law.
The council unanimously passed all four measures, including a nuisance ordinance that has been in discussion for well over a year.
Also passed was a traffic ordinance, unsafe building laws and the establishment of a violations bureau to make the other ordinances enforceable.
The nuisance ordinance (No. 2012-4) has been a subject of nearly every meeting since mid-2010. Anytime the subject of loud noise, excessive amounts of dust, animal problems or tall grass came up, the progress of the new ordinance was questioned.
After numerous revisions, Town Attorney Mary Russell presented a version that satisfied town councilors Alan Jones, Tami Parker and Curt Leonard on Thursday night.
The new law covers a broad range of problems, including abandoned or junk vehicles on public and private property; excessive noise such as that generated by motor vehicles, animals, musical instruments, whistles, sirens, horns and gunfire; and animal regulations regarding both pets and livestock.
The ordinance also sets three classes of violations. Class 1 violations are a $30 fine; Class 2 are a $50 fine; and Class 3 are a $70 fine. A repeat offense doubles the amount.
The traffic regulations ordinance (No. 2012-5) takes similar steps in setting guidelines for traffic and parking in the town, as well as speed limits. The regulations are nothing new, but they do bring Fillmore's code in line with current state law.
The fine for speeding tickets will remain at $50 for up to 10 mph over the speed limit.
The establishment of a violations bureau (Ordinance No. 2012-6) is a largely procedural matter, but Russell advised the council it is a necessity under state law if the town plans to actually collect fines for violations of other ordinances.
The nuisance and traffic ordinances will take effect 30 days after they are advertised in the Banner Graphic.
The final ordinance passed on Thursday (No. 2012-7) was the adoption of the State of Indiana's unsafe building law. The document defines what an unsafe building is, authorizes the town to appoint a building inspector and lays out the course of action in dealing with an unsafe structure.
All four ordinances are available to the public at the Fillmore Town Hall.
Before any vote took place on the four new laws, Russell reminded the council the town must be committed to enforcing its new regulations.
"Any ordinance is only as good as your enforcement," Russell said.
One test of the town's enforcement could come quickly in the case of the Schafer building. The town has been wrangling with the owner for a couple of years on the unsafe property with no real progress made.
A $3,000 estimate has been submitted to tear the building down. Leonard expressed his misgivings about spending the money, but said the town needs to act on behalf of the people.
"We've got to do something to show people we're going to do something with these buildings," Leonard said.
The town would have to pay the cost up front for razing the house, but could then put a lien on the property in order to collect.
Russell reminded them the stakes could be much higher than $3,000 should an accident happen.
"If you have one incident with someone getting hurt in that unsafe building, it will cost you a lot more than $3,000," she said.
In other business:
* Street patching will begin soon in Fillmore. Jones said the patching equipment can be rented for $2,000 for two weeks. The town will buy cold asphalt mix from the Putnam County Highway Department.
Jones and three other people will actually work on the roads, with help from Utility Manager Joe Cash when he is available.
* The town will begin mowing the lawns of foreclosed and empty houses before they get too out of hand for the season. The cost of the mowing will be tracked throughout the year and charged as a tax lien against the property in the fall.
Council also reviewed the policy for out-of-hand lawns of occupied homes. A certified letter must be sent to the owner, and 10 days later the lawn can be mowed. Once one letter has been sent and not complied with, the town has the right to mow the yard for the remainder of the year.