Trash was collected alongside the apartment building at 500 Chinworth Drive in Warsaw. The city is threatening to demolish the building within weeks if the owner, Ralph Fitch, does not sell. Photo by Dan Spalding, InkFreeNews
Trash was collected alongside the apartment building at 500 Chinworth Drive in Warsaw. The city is threatening to demolish the building within weeks if the owner, Ralph Fitch, does not sell. Photo by Dan Spalding, InkFreeNews
When are they going to demolish it?

Those were the first words from a woman last week when she was approached and asked about the dilapidated four-unit apartment building at 500 Chinworth Drive in Warsaw.

The neighbor said the building near her residence has gone downhill in the past year with police calls, drug use and a continuous flow of new people in and out of the building.

Much of the fault, she claims, involves the owner, Ralph Fitch, who has a record of not maintaining his properties and has a long history of ignoring substandard housing violations brought to his attention by the city.

Code enforcement officials in Warsaw would agree.

At the direction of an administrative judge, the city is moving toward demolishing the building in part because Fitch, a resident of Larwill, has quit communicating with them.

The city began the demolition process in July in hopes of encouraging Fitch to sell the property. He attended July’s meeting. At that point, Fitch told the city he would consider selling the property, and apparently, there are buyers who are interested.

At that point, most of the people staying there were apparently moving out.

But according to the city, other people have since moved in and taken up residence.

On Tuesday, Code Enforcement Officer Dana Hewitt said they are moving forward with a deadline for bids and could select a contractor within a week or so.

Fitch did not attend Tuesday's meeting.

“We’ve heard nothing from Mr. Fitch or any potential buyers to come forward to show the city this may be a potential sale rather than a demo,” Hewitt said.

The Chinworth property was one of two properties owned by Fitch that were on the code enforcement hearing agenda.

The other house is at 520  S. Columbia St.

The corner lot is overgrown with grass and weeds, has a broken down and unplated RV in the back behind an enclosed fence that is collapsing. Numerous windows are broken.

Fritch had agreed to an inspection but then backed down, which led the city to get a warrant from a judge to allow for an inspection.

When they entered the two-story red house, authorities said they were greeted with a strong smell of urine. They also found a damaged ceiling, no smoke detectors, no handrails on two sets of stairs and inoperable windows.

On more than two occasions, city officials have talked with a woman with a young child who has been in the house, but denies she lives there.

Administrative Judge Thomas Earhart chose to hold off seeking a demolition order for the Columbia Street house because the structure is still viewed as salvageable.

Instead, he’s fining Fitch $500 for two violations and demanding he attend next month’s meeting on Sept. 13.