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Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance not yet approved

BY Carolyn Muyskens - cmuyskens@chronicle-tribune.com

The Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance approved by the Marion City Council this spring will likely not go into effect Jan. 1 as expected.

The ordinance was struck down by the Indiana Fire Prevention and Building Safety Commission in August. The commission ruled that the city could not require existing buildings to adhere to new construction standards and it could not require carbon monoxide detectors in all rental units, as the ordinance that passed the city council had.

City Council member Deb Cain said she had sent in a response to the commission's issues but said Tuesday she hadn't received approval from the state yet.

The ordinance needs this approval before it can go into effect.

Cain said she had communicated with someone from the state but still hadn't received the approval.

“He was going to send it to me and he did not send it to me as promised, so I called today and had to leave another message. So I'm going to keep calling him,” Cain told the council.

The council will have to vote again on the ordinance. Attorney for the City Council Phil Stephenson said if the changes are minor enough the city might just have to vote on an amendment to the ordinance, but he won't know until he reviews the specific changes. The council may have to go through the entire approval process again.

Council member Dave Homer said the delay means the council probably won't be able to take action until after Jan. 1, 2019, when the ordinance was originally supposed to go into effect.

As for the changes, Cain said in October the ordinance would be changed to only require the detectors in new buildings with gas. Cain also said the city could take that provision out if it needed to.

The council member called the required changes minor Tuesday.

“(It's) a couple words here and there and some language that is not going to change the ordinance at all if we write it the way they want it,” Cain said.

On Tuesday, the council also gave the first nod of approval to a tax abatement for a project at the former site of Roller's Cleaners, 1305 W. Kem Road.

Property owner Kevin Windle plans to turn the “eyesore” into two units of retail space for rental by renovating the building, an investment Windle expects will cost about $130,000.

Windle made the case that his investment, located in what Windle called “a focal point” near the intersection of Ind. 15 and Ind. 9, could inspire others to do the same.

“The more we can help people like myself to help with the north side of town, I think you might get a little more action on getting some of these buildings cleaned up … maybe you'll get some more people a little more interested in redoing some of that stuff,” Windle said.

Council member Alan Miller noted there is a trend of improvements to buildings in the area of the Five Points Mall, such as the renovations at McDonald's north.

The council suspended the rules to hear the abatement the same day that it was introduced to the council's Development Committee and approved the resolution unanimously.

The resolution does not actually grant the abatement but declares the property an economic revitalization area, which sets the council up to approve an abatement at another meeting.

In addition, the council passed an ordinance authorizing the city to take out loans from the Indiana Bond Bank in order to meet cash flow needs.

City Controller Julie Flores told the council without the loans, the city would have a negative cash balance by the end of February. The loans allow the city to cover expenses until property tax and other tax payments roll in.

Flores didn't know yet how much money the city will borrow from the bond bank in 2019. The figure is determined by the bank based on the city's finanical records from the last year.

Council member Steve Henderson, who voted against the ordinance at the last meeting, voted for it Tuesday. Henderson said he changed his vote so as not to “delay the process,” and because “regardless of my vote, it was going to get passed.”

Henderson said he voted no two weeks ago to “raise awareness” about the city's financial situation.

In other business, the City Council also appointed Bob Logan to another term on the city's Economic Development Commission.

City Council President Brad Luzadder said Joe Certain, attorney for the commission, asked that Logan be given another term. Logan is also chairman of the Marion Utilities Service Board.

The commission is made up of three members: Logan, Randy Stone and Chris Oliver.

The council also moved to a second reading an ordinance to vacate a public way.

Robert Wiley of W. W. Enterprises is asking the council to grant him about 100 feet of an alleyway that is surrounded by his property between 34th and 33rd streets.

Council member Jim Brunner was the only member absent from Tuesday's meeting.