MILFORD — The Monday, Oct. 7, meeting of Milford Town Council saw another episode in the town’s ongoing dispute with property owner Ron Davidhizar. Davidhizar and his attorney, Bill Davis, addressed the council in the hopes of getting relief from fines imposed on several properties in various states of disrepair.
The council denied that relief, with Doug Ruch, council president stating there was “not a sufficient plan on the table.”
“It is the feeling of this council to proceed as we have,” said Ruch, referring to the fines, which have resulted in some properties facing a tax sale at the end of October.
Council members cited Davidhizar’s lack of activity, apart from work performed Oct. 7, the day of the meeting. “Movement does not seem to be a priority,” commented council member Ken Long.
Jay Urbin, who resides next door to Davidhizar’s 105 N. Maple property, said the house has been “empty for 15 years,” and wanted to know what would prevent the property from returning to its current derelict state following repairs if the town did forgive the fines, which he estimated at around $7,000 and suggested are the only reason for any action on Davidhizar’s part. Davidhizar contended there is “nothing mechanically wrong” with the Maple Street property. As for the future, he commented he is getting older and “may want to sell.”
Davidhizar also indicated he had been taking inventory of needed improvements. Davis said his client’s plan called for work to begin at the 605 Kenwood St. property within two months, followed by work at 313, 315, 317 Williams and 105 Maple St. “in a serial fashion.” In return, the council would remove properties from the tax sale and then provide some relief from fines.
Davis said the parties could continue in a “situation of antagonism or work together to improve the condition of Milford’s housing stock.”
However, the council deemed Davidhizar’s efforts too little too late. “At this time we haven’t seen enough movement … honestly, you know that,” Ruch said.
During public input, Sue Hewer, whose daughter and grandchildren live at 103 S. James St., called for a safer school bus stop and for the town to do more to procure grants for the construction of sidewalks.
“Trucks speed down James Street,” she said, and children are forced to walk “in the middle of the street,” especially in wintertime.
Ruch said the school corporation determines its bus routes, and the town works with homeowners to underwrite sidewalk construction. Town Attorney Jay Rigdon added much depends on the location of easements.
Ruch directed Town Marshal Derek Kreider to bring the problem to the attention of the school corporation.
During fire department reports, Brian Haines informed the council of the pressing need for new self contained breathing apparatuses, many of which are “pushing 20 years of use.” Also, many packs do not have personal alert safety systems, a PASS device, which alerts other firefighters when the wearer does not move for a long period of time.
New packs would also allow firefighters 30 more minutes of work time, according to Haines, and protect them from the dangerous fumes related to new building materials which have come into use since the old packs were made.
Ruch asked Haines to get “hard numbers” together for the next meeting, and Clerk/Treasurer Tricia Gall agreed to help the department apply for a grant from the K21 Foundation.
A new full time deputy marshal, Marcus Boyer, was sworn in at the meeting, following a vote to approve the hiring of new personnel to “get the force up to full power.”
During utilities reports, the board approved a refund of $1,037.66 to Chore-Time Brock, which was accidentally double charged after a new meter was installed.
Superintendent Steven Marquart also informed the council his department is once again having trouble getting warranty work returned in a timely manner from Master Meter, the distributor of Milford’s meters. The town currently has 21 meters out of service. The trouble comes roughly a year after a meeting in which Master Meter assured the town the matter would be improved. Ruch said he would begin calling Master Meter representatives.
On Wednesday, Oct. 9, the town will begin flushing hydrants.
The council approved the 2020 budget following last month’s hearing. The budget is $2.1 million with a levy of $629,425. It is a 6.8% increase over 2019.