Below is a brief history of our efforts to understand and mitigate the conditions at the private property on Hausfeldt Lane. Once again, the property has been in the news and it has become a concern to a number of residents. Please read, copy, and share this with others. Your efforts to share this information will greatly help us take steps to improve the condition there, but equally important, it will help others understand our desire to protect the property rights and the privacy of the landowner. This is a very unusual problem, and we are working closely with the courts to resolve it in a manner which is respectful to all parties.
Mayor Jeff Gahan
The property located at 519 Hausfeldt Lane is within the City of New Albany’s Unincorporated Two-Mile Fringe area.
From October 2, 2009 to September 9, 2014, the property was owned by Judith Bischoff. On September 9, 2014, a quit-claim deed was issued conveying the property to Jarrett Hamilton; however, Mr. Hamilton has lived on the property since 2009. Ms. Bischoff lived with Mr. Hamilton until late 2014.
On February 19, 2013, City of New Albany Building Commissioner, David Brewer, did an inspection of the property and found several violations. On February 22, 2013, Mr. Brewer sent a final notification to Ms. Bischoff in which he advised her of the violations and ordered her to remove all “refuse and blight” within ten days. If the issues were not remedied by March 5, 2013, Ms. Bischoff was advised that the City would obtain a court order to have the debris and cars removed at her expense.
In May 2013, the Floyd County Health Department contacted the City of New Albany Building Commissioner’s Office concerning the code related violations on this property. During this time, the Floyd County Health Department issued a notice of violation and order to abate to the property owners, with the first one dated May 1, 2013, and the second and final notice dated May 16, 2013. The notice dated May 16, 2013 advised that the matter had then been referred the Health Board Attorney, Rick Fox, where no further action was taken.
On May 24, 2013, Mr. Brewer sent a letter to both Ms. Bischoff and Mr. Hamilton advising them that the property had been deemed a hazard and the City would conduct a cleanup on June 6-7, 2013. Both Ms. Bischoff and Mr. Hamilton were present when the City carried out the cleanup on the property in June 2013.
On August 8, 2014, the City filed a complaint against Ms. Bischoff in the Floyd Superior Court, requesting an emergency inspection of the property. The court entered an order granting the City the right to conduct an emergency inspection of the property the same day.
On February 5, 2015, the City filed a motion seeking authorization to conduct a cleanup of the property. In the motion, the City referred to the situation as “an emergency” and alleged “there is refuse on the outside allowing rats and other vermin to flourish and presents a hazard to surrounding neighbors.” On February 9, 2015, the court granted the motion and the City conducted a cleanup that same month. After the cleanup, threats were made against city staff based upon the Court authorized cleanup.
Following the 2015 cleanup, Mr. Hamilton appealed to the Federal 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. The lawsuit filed by Mr. Hamilton based upon the previous cleanup in 2015 was in Federal Court throughout the entire year of 2016 to present. The case is still currently pending in front of the Court of Appeals.
In the meantime, the City again filed a suit against Mr. Hamilton on June 22, 2017 stating he is using the property as junkyard, creating a hazard to public health and a public nuisance. Mr. Hamilton is not cooperating in the process, and due to previous threats to City of New Albany staff members, court approval and police assistance is necessary before stepping onto the property.
Numerous issues involving the home owner and safety exist, which require the legal system to make fair, unbiased and authorized decisions in order to protect individual property rights. We support and allow due process to proceed to protect all those involved, but as we have demonstrated in the past, the City will act with prudence to protect the health of all citizens in the fringe areas or the incorporated City of New Albany.