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Friday, July 06, 2007

Ind. Decisions - "Woman owes City of Mitchell $38,200"

Faith Hannah of the Bedford Times-Mail reports today:

MITCHELL — The Indiana Supreme Court sided with the city of Mitchell to make a property owner, literally, clean up her act.

Marilyn Barlow, 903 Lawrence St., failed to comply to several city ordinances regarding her residential property.

“It was a junk yard,” said Byron Steele, city attorney. * * *

Steele said the city filed in small claims court, but the judge did not impose the maximum fine. “She paid the judgment off and didn’t fix anything,” he added.

As a result, the city of Mitchell took a higher approach and filed another complaint on June 21, 2005, with Lawrence Superior Court. It ruled that she pay the city $38,200 in fines and court costs.

Barlow’s attorney, Susan Schultz of Corydon, said the original sum was twice that amount. Although it was reduced, she considered the amount outrageous.

“I believe this is a case of selective enforcement,” Schultz added. She said she had seen other properties in the same condition as Barlow’s home.

But Watson said he only knows of one other property that is similar to hers, and she was the first person he had taken to court. * * *

[The report omits the step where the property owner took the case to the Court of Appeals and lost - see the March 22nd ILB entry here - 2nd case.]

Barlow and her attorney appealed again to transfer the case to the Indiana Supreme Court on March 22. However, the court denied the appeal on June 21. Therefore, ending the two-year battle. [See the June 29th transfer report here.]

As of Thursday, Watson said the property still appeared to be in the same shape as before. “I can show you pictures of her property — I know from two years ago — of stuff that was then that is there now,” Watson said. “It’s still a mess.”

He added that he will start all over if she does not clean up the property.

Steele believes the outcome of the case will make people take another look at their own property. “This case proves the city is serious about enforcing its ordinances.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 6, 2007 02:26 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions