News and Tribune

February 27, 2013

Liens rise as New Albany addresses properties

More planters may be installed by Keep New Albany Clean and Green

By DANIEL SUDDEATH
daniel.suddeath@newsandtribune.com

NEW ALBANY — Twenty-seven structures were demolished by the order of the New Albany Building Commission in 2012, including 16 houses in the failed Linden Meadows subdivision. 

Building Commissioner David Brewer presented an annual report to the New Albany Board of Public Works and Safety on Tuesday, as he touted the city’s enhanced efforts to hold property owners accountable. 

According to numbers provided by Brewer, the city filed 476 tax liens for code enforcement and demolition totaling $354,000 last year. In 2011, the city declared 100 liens on properties accounting for about $99,000. 

The collections and liens filed are up dramatically from previous years, according to the statistics presented. There were 23 liens filed for building and property issues totaling about $65,000 from 2007 to 2009. There were no liens filed by the city from 2003 to 2006. 

Brewer said the problems have always existed, but the city has been more aggressive in its efforts of late when it comes to filing liens. 

“If you go and look through the city, there’s a long way to go,” Brewer said. 

Now that the houses of Linden Meadows — which was a semipublicly funded subdivision meant for low-to-moderate income homeowners — have been razed, the administration is left with determining a plan for the property. But first, ownership of Linden Meadows must be determined and pending legal matters finalized. 

Mayor Jeff Gahan said he expects either a private entity or the city to develop the subdivision, which was once a park, by the end of the year. The New Albany Redevelopment Commission has proposed ideas for the property, and the body will be involved in any effort directed by the city for Linden Meadows, he continued. 

As for property issues for the entire city, Gahan credited the New Albany City Council for tightening code and building enforcement ordinances and Brewer and his staff for the improved results of 2012.

The council also agreed to fund the hiring of a part-time worker for the building department to concentrate on filing liens, as Gahan said the city has to present a sizable amount of documentation before it can proceed with legal action against a dilapidated property owner. 

“I’m really happy with the progress we made with the building commission and addressing those troubled properties that needed attention,” he said. 

From June 2011 through December 2012, the city collected $127,234 from property liens related to code and building enforcement. 

As for other efforts by the building commission last year, 580 properties were cited with grass and weed violations, 100 lots were cleaned by the city for code violations and nine trees were removed from properties. 

 

Clean and Green may install more planters

The nonprofit Keep New Albany Clean and Green has proposed installing 40 more planters downtown.

Last year, the organization installed several planters downtown free of charge to the city. The board of works agreed to take the latest request under advisement until New Albany Street Commissioner Mickey Thompson can examine the proposed locations for the planters. 

Sixteen of the planters would be located along Scribner Drive between Elm and Main streets. Eight planters would be installed along Elm Street at the Bank Street and Pearl Street intersections. 

There would also be 12 planters located along Spring Street and four planters installed off Market Street.