Starke County BZA Ruling Requires Resident to Remove Building


The Starke County Board of Zoning Appeals met in special session last night.

The board voted to uphold a ruling made by Special Judge Patrick Blankenship that requires Julia Ford to tear down a building that has been the subject of public scrutiny and a lawsuit. They extended the deadline date from June 1 to June 15 and adjourned the meeting.

George and Betty Dotlich first went to the Board of Zoning Appeals in 2012 to dispute the zoning of a structure placed on a property in the county by Julia Ford. They claimed the structure was permitted as a single-family residence and it was a commercial structure. Fast-forward to 2013 when Judge Blankenship made a judgment that the Starke County Board of Zoning Appeals failed to follow proper procedure, allowed ex parte communication, and made a decision unsupported by substantial evidence in the case between Betty and George Dotlich and Julia Ford.

The case involved the fact that Julia Ford of Starke County purchased a used manufactured commercial office structure that had been certified in Illinois and applied for a permit to convert it to a single-family residence, which the BZA approved on Jan. 11, 2012.

The ruling concluded that the BZA failed to follow proper procedure by not allowing public comment at the subsequent appeal hearings. The judge found that the BZA also failed to follow procedure in dealing with communication by the parties prior to the hearing.

Blankenship also ordered that the BZA pay $15,164 in court costs for the case.

In last night’s meeting, the BZA agreed to adopt Judge Blankenship’s order that requires Ford to tear down the structure. Board Chairman Don White announced that they had reviewed evidence that Ford brought forth and the board adopted the judge’s order.