Janesville stepping up neighborhood inspection efforts

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Thursday, June 2, 2011
— The house at 253 S. High St. could be the poster child for Janesville's proactive inspection program.

Sheryl Inman, property maintenance specialist, Wednesday surveyed the structure's crumbling porches and deteriorating soffits. She navigated missing steps to shut an open door on the apparently vacant house.

"This is what this whole thing is about," Inman said. "Right here. This property. This is not safe for anyone in the community."

Inman and Kim Sheldon for several weeks have been walking the inner city neighborhoods. The city in the last several years has performed annual spring walk-throughs but targeted only nuisances, such as junk cars and garbage.

Building conditions were addressed only after the city received complaints.

This year, property maintenance specialists are looking at housing stock, too. The city usually ends up getting those complaints anyway, so inspecting for both nuisances and building conditions saves time in the end, Inman said.

Owners who have missing porch rails, peeling paint, deteriorating steps or roofs, missing house numbers and other building issues will receive orders to correct.

Three weeks of inspection in May yielded 136 orders to correct. The city issued 212 orders in 2009 and 179 in 2010 for nuisances alone.

Inman and Kim Sheldon on Wednesday noted violations such as a window riddled with what appeared to be bullet holes, a stair railing that swayed from its concrete footing and a garage that needed painting.

At 162 S. High St., blue and green tarps billowed in place of a garage door. That's not life-threatening but certainly is irritating for neighbors and an eyesore for those who pass, Inman said.

Another garage looked as if it was leaning, and that issue will be forwarded to the city's building inspection department.

The paint was washing off a home at 503 S. High St., but Inman decided to wait a year to see if the owner corrects it.

"We really want to make sure it's a major housing issue," Inman said.

Inman decided the home at 253 S. High St. needs immediate attention from building inspectors because she suspects the building has structural issues.

The once stately home appeared vacant. A Century 21 sign leaned in the yard near a pile of debris shoved under a porch. One porch was missing its steps.

A third porch was gone, with the door opening to a 5-foot drop. Sodden carpet and old wood with exposed nails were piled in the yard.

A side door was open, and Inman noticed a light in the house.

"This is bad," Inman said, taking pictures. "I don't think words can adequately explain this house."

"Is this OK? Really? Come on."

Last updated: 5:46 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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