Blackman Township Needs Property Owner to Pay Up
FOX 47 News
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It's been more than a year since the abandoned Sparton Building went up in flames in Jackson County's Blackman Township, but it remains a hot issue.
"It looks nasty, it looks like a big pile of you know what," said Mike Blair, whose parents live across the street.
Local officials feel the exact same way.
"This situation serves as a case study for frustrations for a local government, in that there are so many variables that are in play," said Blackman County Supervisor Dan Hawkins.
He said it's been a much slower process than they hoped. There are bureaucratic procedures that have delayed the demolition and too many restrictions to keep track. But it all boils down to more than $80,000 of backed taxes owed by the out-of-state land owner.
"Cross our fingers that property owner takes care of business and pays his taxes and does what a property owner is supposed to do," Hawkins said. "But unfortunately, that isn't always the case."
Right now a contractor is responsible for a team that is breaking down and salvaging the remains. Hawkins said he's been cooperative, and they're working together to keep the interest of the neighbors in mind.
"My primary concern is for the individual who lives across the street," Hawkins said.
Susan Cichy is that woman, and she's not pleased. She said she wanted to paint her house this year and couldn't because of the demolition.
"It's been a mess ever since the fire," Cichy said. "I wish they would get done with it. It would be nice, not to have to look at it."
Hawkins said they've taken all the safety precautions they could since the fire, including a fence around the entire perimeter of the property. But Blair doesn't think it's enough.
"When they knocked a piece of the wall down, I could feel it from here," Blair said.
The contractor said the remaining walls should come down within the next two weeks.
The property is already on the forfeiture list, but the owner has until next April to pay up. If he doesn't, the property will be auctioned.