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State regulations could delay South Bend demolition

May 15, 2013|By Rachel Lake (rlake@wsbt.com), Click here to friend Rachel on Facebook | By Rachel Lake (rlake@wsbt.com), Click here to friend Rachel on Facebook

The city of South Bend's plan to fix up or tear down 1,000 homes in 1,000 days may be slowing down. City council members Oliver Davis and Valerie Schey brought up those concerns, but in a letter to the city council the mayor's office says the city is complying with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. The head of code enforcement also says the city is working with IDEM to develop a plan when it comes to identifying asbestos-filled homes.

Fixing or demolishing a thousand dilapidated homes in South Bend in a thousand days... It's a lofty goal set by Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

"Orange tape when you see that color orange or yellow, it's a sign that says we need to proceed with caution and we need to slow it down to make sure everything is correct."

Councilman Oliver Davis is referring to possible asbestos problems within those homes. The city says over the next two weeks, ten city workers will be trained in asbestos inspection. It'll cost $5,000 But the head of code enforcement says the city will be saving money in the long run.

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"Typically the cost of inspection range, but we anticipate saving about $400 per home as a result of having in house asbestos inspectors," said Shubhada Kambli, Director of Code Enforcement.

Administrators estimate the cost of abatement, isolating and removing asbestos, will be about $2500 per house. But here's the thing... 46 homes have already gone out to bid for demolition. Before they're demolished, those homes have to inspected.

"For the houses that do have asbestos in them, we'll have to basically re-bid them so they can be abated for the asbestos," said Kambli.

Despite this setback... the city expects to start demolishing homes this summer as originally planned.

"We are complying with IDEM and have been in close communication and are doing our best to ensure the demolitions are being done in an environmentally responsible way," she said.

"I'm all for the council working with the administration to getting as close to the 1,000 homes as possible, at the same time we want to make sure we do that in a way that meets IDEM's goals," said Davis.

Initially in the first group of homes... 50 were to be demolished. The city changed that to 46 because four of them will be repaired.

The city has not said how long of a possible delay the required inspections will cause. Kambli did say thought that she expects city workers to start checking homes by mid-June.

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