MILFORD — When the Milford Town Council named Tom Bulger building commissioner in 2016, he worked through a list of 14 neglected properties the town hoped to clean up, some of which had been abandoned for a decade or more. That list was soon whittled down to five: Two ranch-style houses and three trailers, all owned by Ron Davidhizar, once deemed a “problem landlord” in a WSBT-TV article due to his failure to bring multiple Goshen properties up to code.
In that case, reported in 2014, the properties were placed in receivership due to the length of time the houses had been neglected. This option was rejected by the Milford council in 2017 because of potential costs to the town, which council member Doug Ruch said could reach “75 or 80 grand before it is all said and done.”
Instead, fines of $2,500 were levied on all five properties in the hopes they would be foreclosed upon due to non-payment, and at a fall 2018 meeting of the council, Town Attorney Jay Rigdon stated they would likely be up for a sheriff’s sale in the spring of 2019.
After levying the fines, Bulger moved to the position of inspector and Scott Mast, a Milford contractor and volunteer firefighter, took over as commissioner. State code requires these positions be filled if towns hope to bring actions against neglectful property owners. The commissioner presides over the hearing at which the owner may contest the inspector’s findings.
Since taking the position, Mast’s services have not been required, as owners have rectified the violations Bulger cited. “Complaints by townspeople haven’t made it to me,” Mast observed.
“We don’t drag our feet,” said Bulger. Complaints and violations are “seen to right away” with Bulger making an inspection “within a day or two.”
While still facing a raft of fines, Davidhizar has at least complied with the town’s demands he keep his properties inaccessible, though there have been intermittent security issues and broken windows from vandalism, which can lead to pests and infestations. “He tries to keep those things secured,” Bulger commented.
But problems persist. For example, Davidhizar has refused to tie down his mobile homes, and his lawyer issued a letter claiming there was no law requiring tie downs. Bulger referred the lawyer to the state code stating otherwise.
Bulger characterized his communications with Davidhizar as “talking in circles.”
Nevertheless, Milford as a whole has benefitted from the council’s efforts. “The town has done a good job of taking care of most issues that come up,” stated Bulger. “It’s getting better and people are in place to maintain progress.”
“It’s looking nice around Main Street,” Mast noted. And though, for now, problems remain with the Davidhizar properties and houses burned in recent fires, he remained optimistic, remarking, “Time will take care of it.”