Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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January 9, 2013

Topeka eyesore gets attention

LaGRANGE — A collapsed and partially demolished building in Topeka is being cleaned up.

LaGrange code enforcement officer Jason Boggs told the LaGrange County Commissioners Monday that owner Roger Diehm has had a contractor remove debris piles. The building is located on the northeast side of the main four-way intersection in downtown Topeka.

 Diehm building collapsed due to poor structural integrity, according to Boggs. He explained that for many months, piles of discarded building material had been in piles, scattered across the empty lot and heaped inside the empty building’s shell. Recently a complaint was made to the Topeka town attorney and he relayed the complaint to the county building code department. The complaints were not only about it being an eyesore downtown but that had been attracting vermin.

After being contacted by the county, Diehm brought in a contractor and removed the piles. The building can not be completely demolished as it shares a loadbearing wall with Mr. Edds Tavern and Restaurant next door.

Bob Eyer is the owner of the tavern, which is an actively operating business.

The delay in demolition has to do with the delegation of financial responsibility: Who has to pay to have the shared wall examined? Who will pay for engineering plans to reinforce the shared wall? Who will pay to rebuild a new wall?

These details are being worked out between the owners, Boggs said.

County officials said they were happy to see clean-up had taken place and they will check on the progress again later.

In other zoning code business, last month Marlin Knepp, after almost a year of negotiations with the code enforcement officer, was ordered to pay one half of the assessed fine he owed for using his Ag 1 property at 7495 W. 100 North in Shipshewana for a scrap metal operation and creating a public nuisance.

Knepp wrote out a check to the county for $2,587.50. The property still has a way to go before it is cleared of its nuisance designation. If he fails to clean the property up to standards, he will owe the other half of the fine. County officials will follow-up in six months to see if he is compliant.

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