Cambridge City’s council agreed that three homes are unsafe and need demolishing but gave a single mom 90 days in case Wayne County’s new blight elimination program can help. 

During a public hearing at council’s Dec. 11 meeting, 411 and 415 W. Front St. were found unsafe. Ken Risch, superintendent of public works, hasn’t been able to successfully contact owners Ronald and Darlena Roberts of Connersville. They have 30 days to appeal. 

Risch will pursue demolition bids, which might take place at the town’s expense until funds can be recouped. 

The house at 415 W. Front St. in Cambridge City has been found unsafe by the town’s council and bids for demolition are being pursued. Photo by Millicent Martin Emery

Council also found 420 W. Main St. unsafe but empathized with that owner’s financial struggles, her willingness to attend and her openness to alternate solutions. 

Economic Development Corp. of Wayne County is currently developing rules for blight control using Hoosier Enduring Legacy Program funds.   

Risch gave updates on other unsightliness. Mattresses have been removed at 501 E. Church. However, items come and go at 14 N. Plum St. The owner of 502 E. Main St. is making progress but still needs to haul away items. 

Regarding new complaints, Risch plans to notify local owners of 308 W. Main St. about backyard trash and South Carolina owners of a potentially unsafe home at 314 W. Main St.

In other business

  • Council approved an interlocal agreement with Wayne County’s auditor’s office to collect stormwater fees for Cambridge City properties for three years. The town pays $1,500 for setup and $1 per parcel. County officials first proposed $5 per parcel. 
  • To deter speeding, two solar radar detection signs will be bought for $6,850 total. Half comes from the town’s American Rescue Plan Act funds; half comes from Cambridge City Main Street.
  • Risch suggested charging businesses at least $25 per trailer load of brush dumped at Riverside Cemetery’s burn pile, but keeping that service free for residents’ pickup loads. No more brush can be accommodated until it’s burned. He also suggested increasing Improve­ment Loca­tion Per­mits from $2 because Hagerstown charges $25, and implementing a fee for electric inspections before Duke Energy will reconnect customers. Wayne County charges $35. Council will discuss those items in January.
  • Rumpke will pick up residents’ trash on Tuesday, Dec. 26, and Tuesday, Jan. 2, instead of Dec. 25 and Jan. 1. 
  • Council agreed to seek bids for a one-year lease of farm ground adjacent to Riverside Cemetery. Risch said expansion of the cemetery isn’t yet needed.
  • Council renewed its contract with Town Attorney Bob Bever at 2023’s rate and allowed Fire Chief Jeff Gabbard to replace four sets of turnout gear. 
  • Bever reported state officials approved the town’s 2024 budget, proudly noting the town is saving property owners $55,000 by charging below its maximum levy. 
  • Through a survey of fire station grounds before a performance stage is built, Bever learned ownership of the land under the station is unclear. He will pursue a quiet title. 
  • Council approved transferring remaining funds from Phase 1A in-town water improvements to Phase 1B now underway at Gateway Industrial Park.
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A version of this article appeared in the December 20 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.