Hobart board orders cleanup of 80-year-old farmer's property

2012-09-21T19:30:00Z 2013-08-22T17:05:14Z Hobart board orders cleanup of 80-year-old farmer's propertyDeborah Laverty deborah.laverty@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2223 nwitimes.com

HOBART | The Board of Public Works told Robert Berndt it has given him ample time to clean up his debris-littered, unsafe home and farm.

Now it's time for the Hobart Public Works Department to tackle the property in the 6800 block of Grand Boulevard, board members said.

"I have a problem. I save everything," Berndt said.

He asked for more time.

The board ordered the house be cleaned inside and out and the farm be cleared of all vehicles and debris.

"We've had a dozen years of this conversation," board member Thomas Ehrhardt told Berndt.

City Attorney Anthony DeBonis questioned 80-year-old Berndt at length about his living arrangements and health.

Berndt said he had been living in the basement of his house until it flooded last year. He most recently has been living out of his car or at his brother's house, he said.

DeBonis told Berndt he'll go to court and request a legal guardian for him if he doesn't find a decent place to stay.

"You may not see your 81st birthday," DeBonis cautioned Berndt.

The board earlier this year requested cleanup of the exterior of the house, which had been overrun with bags of garbage, old tires and about 30 cats.

In the spring, building official Mike Hannigan said some progress had been made thanks in part to the efforts of Code Enforcement Officer Kenneth Gagliardi.

"The house is uninhabitable," Hannigan said.

Gagliardi, who came with photos of the property, said between eight and 10 cattle are left free to roam on the farm, which could prove dangerous.

In addition, buckets of rotten doughnuts and bagels, tires and even old vehicles remain on the farm site.

Mayor Brian Snedecor said although he sympathizes with Berndt, city officials must consider the public good for the community and Berndt himself.

"Your welfare is at stake," Snedecor said.

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