City of Muncie Launches Educational Program Before Attacking Blight

Backyard blight from a property the city has identified.Backyard blight from a property the city has identified.

By: Mike Rhodes—

Muncie, IN—It was an attractive home, nestled between two expansive oak trees. Tiny wind chimes tinkled every so often from the front porch, announcing their presence. The grass was freshly cut, yet the sidewalk and street showed no evidence of trimmings. It was a home someone loved—a home to be proud of.

The home next door was quite a different story.

Grass and weeds stood over a foot tall. Cigarette butts covered the sidewalk. Trash dumpsters were laid haphazardly on their sides with unbagged trash spilling out onto the ground. A few automobiles, once repairable, now sat rusting so much that their inner mechanicals had dropped to the ground, breaking through the bottom of their rotted carcasses. Rats and various vermin scattered across the lawn as one walked up to the porch. Ick.

Would you like to live beside that neighbor?

The City of Muncie is addressing the issue of blight in our community, but wants to first educate residents before issuing citations to residential and commercial property owners within the city limits.

The Muncie Building Commissioner’s Code Enforcement division is currently working on a Muncie Clean-Up initiative. The team in the Building Commissioner’s Office are not only employees of the city, but also residents who care about the community. The Building Commissioner’s Officials along with other city departments and neighborhood associations are working together on the project.

The Code Enforcement division staff will drive through neighborhoods, street by street, randomly looking for blight. They will be driving through the north, south, east and west areas of the city limits. Things they will be looking for include:  trash in yards, appliances in yards, excessive trash in yards, abandoned vehicles in yards etc.

An example of trash/blight the city will be looking for.

An example of trash/blight the city will be looking for.

In the past, the department would go out, knock on the door and issue the property owner a citation. Now the department will commit one day a week to drive through neighborhoods and provide blighted property owners information and education on what needs to be done to remedy their property instead of immediately issuing citations. The department will individually work with each owner and provide them with the resources and knowledge of how and why something needs cleaned up. The team wants to inform owners of code requirements a little more openly.

For example, something as simple as debris can lead to vermin infestations. High weeds and tires can attract mosquitos. The goal in the Muncie Clean-Up Initiative is to protect all citizens through education.

The Building Commissioner’s Code Enforcement plan is as follows:

—Citizens will receive a 10-day notice explaining any and all violations posted on the property. They will also receive advice for remedies and actions needed for code compliance.

—A follow up and progress check will occur after 10 days. If progress is found, an additional 10 days may be granted, or the property owner may avoid citation altogether. However, if no progress has been found,  a citation may be administered.

Code Enforcement wants to help the community, and clean up Muncie. The goal is not to provide continual citations, as has been done in the past, but instead, to provide the education and resources needed to help property owners improve the aesthetic appeal of this great city. This is a new process and a new initiative, designed to make Muncie a more attractive and safe place for all.

Click here to view a copy of the Building Inspector form.

As a community, we can work together to help minimize property-based issues, and make our city an attractive location in which citizens can take pride.

If you have questions on the new program, please call the Building Commissioners Office. (765) 747-4862