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February 20, 2014

City wins appeal over building

Future remains uncertain for former Tipton Elementary.

The city of Logansport's victory in a lawsuit over the remediation and demolition of an old school building still stands, a decision from the Indiana Court of Appeals states.

Sonia Long, of Elkhart, purchased the former Tipton Elementary School on the corner of Wright and 16th streets from the Logansport Community School Corporation in 1999. The state appellate court decision states the building "had no working heat or plumbing for many years and was used for storage, not human habitation." The building also had asbestos and boarded up windows, the decision states.

The decision goes on to state Long told the city she planned to rehabilitate the property, but did not do so for more than two years.

That led to the city informing Long in 2010 that the structure is unsafe in accordance with the Indiana Unsafe Building Law and Logansport ordinances. Long was ordered to remediate the asbestos and demolish the building by Aug. 31, 2010, but Long was financially unable to do so.

The city then filed a lawsuit against Long in September 2011 to force compliance with the demolition order.

Long represented herself throughout the lawsuit when it was heard in Cass Superior Court I, which ruled in favor of the city, and at the state level when Long appealed.

The decision states many of Long's arguments were waived because of their lack of cogency. She argued the state's unsafe building law is unconstitutional and that there were many other buildings in town in similar or worse conditions that weren't being pursued by the city.

The court also ruled she held little weight in bringing the suit forward because she never appealed or sought judicial review of the city's notice to demolish the building.

In an interview, Long reiterated the arguments she made in the suit, citing the many other blighted properties in town.

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