LAGRANGE — A Wolcottville apartment complex whose owners were allegedly relying on untreated water drawn from the nearby Little Elkhart River to provide water for their tenants are now at the heart of a legal battle launched Monday morning by the LaGrange County Commissioners.
At the urging of Jason Boggs, the county’s planning department director, the commissioners approved allowing County Attorney Kurt Bachman to start litigation demanding the building’s owners, Scott and Lisa Jordan, make all the necessary repairs to the seven-unit apartment complex at 202 N. Second St. in Wolcottville, or have the buildings razed.
Boggs said the apartment complex has been at the center of an ongoing dispute between his department and the Jordans for years.
Recently, after receiving several tenant complaints, the LaGrange County Health Department condemned all seven units at the property, calling them unfit for human habitation.
In his notice posted to each apartment’s door, Dr. Tony Pechin, the LaGrange County Health Officer, declared those apartments “dangerous and detrimental to human health and safety” because of problems with the buildings drainage, electrical, plumbing and ventilation systems.
Boggs was a bit more straightforward in his description of the property.
"We’ve had ongoing issues for multiple years with this property,” Boggs told the commissioners. “The whole structure has been condemned. It needs to be either renovated or removed.”
Boggs presenting the commissioners with several pictures of conditions he found at the property, including one showing garden hose stretching from one of the buildings down to the Little Elkhart River. Boggs said he believes that the hose was being used as the sole source of water. Boggs said he also found a trench dug to a nearby abandoned well on another property.
The property was hooked up to the town’s water system, but that service was allegedly cut off for failure to pay, a town official said.
Boggs said the point of the lawsuit is to demand Jordon either “repair the property or remove” it.
In other matters, the commissioners approved a request to help purchase a new track loader for the LaGrange County Parks and Recreation Department. The loader will be used to help clear away fallen timber from several LaGrange County parks. The cost to buy the new loader from Greenmark Equipment is slightly more than $77,400
The parks department set aside more than $36,000 to pay for the loader and asked the commissioners to pay the remaining $41,000.
The commissioners also presented the LaGrange County Historical Society with a check for $5,000.