Hobart farmer ordered to present cleanup plan to board by May 15

2013-04-21T20:15:00Z 2013-06-20T17:01:14Z Hobart farmer ordered to present cleanup plan to board by May 15Deborah Laverty deborah.laverty@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2223 nwitimes.com

HOBART | Farmer Robert Berndt was told by the Board of Public Works to return May 15 with a cleanup schedule for his property in hand.

"I expect to see something on paper. I expect a plan to be in place," board member Rich Lain told Berndt last week.

The board received a progress update Wednesday on Berndt's property from town building official Michael Hannigan.

Hannigan's report included photos taken of Berndt's house and farm, which are across the street from each other, in the 6800 block of Grand Boulevard.

Hannigan said Berndt and his family have done a good job as far as cleanup of the farm and house exterior over the past seven months.

Photos taken of the property this past week indicate Berndt still has a long way to go as far as cleanup of the interior of the house.

"The house is unlivable. There's still a lot inside," Hannigan said.

The board in September ordered cleanup of Berndt's debris-littered, house and farm, which were judged to be unsafe.

Berndt, 80, who was placed in a handicap-accessible trailer by his family, continued to provide monthly updates to the board through January.

Mayor Brian Snedecor said Berndt's family had promised to provide the board with a cleanup scheduled but had never followed through.

"Where are we at?" Snedecor asked.

Berndt said one of the things holding him back is lack of finances to hire someone to do the cleanup.

"Funding is a question," Berndt said.

City Attorney Anthony DeBonis said the house, which has been home to raccoons, is a public nuisance.

"It can't stay the way it is ... the photos speak for themselves," DeBonis said.

The board agreed to have Lain and Hannigan meet with Berndt and family members prior to the May 15 meeting to work out a plan.

"We want to help you. We don't want this to drag on and we don't want it to revert to what it was. It will have to stay cleaned up," Snedecor said.

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