of Council Kathy McNear called Council to order on
††††††††††† The governmental body and those in attendance recited the pledge of allegiance.
††††††††††† Mr. Knox
took roll call.† Present were Council
††††††††††† The minutes
††††††††††† Mr. Knox
said there is one communication from Cinergy: ďThis letter is to inform you
that the Cincinnati Gas & Electric Company will file an application for an
increase in rates with the Public Utility Commission of Ohio in December
2005.† The application will propose an
increase in rates of approximately $6.7 million for the rider AMRP (Accelerated
Main Replacement Program) for the gas distribution services to be effective in
May 2006.† This increase will result in
an additional charge of $1 per month for residential customers.Ē† It goes on to say that the AMRP is for
installing plastic mains and service lines to replace the cast i
††††††††††† COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE -†††††††† none
ORDINANCE NO. 62-2005 ďAUTHORIZING THE MAYOR AND CLERK OF COUNCIL/FINANCE DIRECTOR TO AMEND THE AGREEMENT WITH
WOOD & LAMPING LLP FOR LEGAL SERVICES TO THE CITY OF
Mr. Vanover made a motion to adopt and Mr. Wilson seconded.†
Ordinance 62-2005 passed with seven affirmative votes.
ORDINANCE NO. 63-2005 ďAPPROVAL OF MODIFICATION TO PUD PLAN
FOR TRI-COUNTY MALL PUD LOCATED AT THE NORTHEAST CORNER OF PRINCETON PIKE AND
Public Hearing Ė Blighted Premises Ė 12065 Greencastle Drive
Mr. Schneider stated we are having a public hearing
relative to spot blight and the possible acquisition or such other action as is
provided in the Code under Chapter 99 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of
Mr. Knox read the report:† ďDear Mrs. McNear:† Title 9, Chapter 99, Section 99.01
Definitions:† A.† Blighted Premises of the City of Springdale
Code of Ordinances submits as part of its definition for blighted premises,
dilapidation, deterioration, lack of maintenance or repair, or any combination
thereof, constitute a serious fire hazard, a serious health hazard, a
substantial and a reasonable interference with a reasonable and lawful use and
enjoyment of other premises within the neighborhood or a fact of seriously
depreciating property values in the neighborhood.† Itís the City Administrationís contention
that the property located at
Mr. Schneider said I failed to mention earlier that
there will be witness testimony welcome from any neighbors or any other
Mr. Schneider said we have heard the reading of the prima facie evidence by the Clerk and we have supporting testimony.† Mr. Lou Schneider, (Mr. Andersonís attorney), Iíd be glad to present additional supporting evidence.
Mr. Lou Schneider said I would like to proceed.† Importantly, as Mr. K. Schneider pointed out, this appears to be the first time the Council has tried to enforce this spot blight statute.† Reviewing the spot blight statute, it was read into the record before, but I think it is important to look at the language and see what is considered to be a blighted premises in order to lay a groundwork and see where weíre standing.† The definition of blighted premises which means a premises which because of its age, obsolescence, dilapidation, deterioration, lack of maintenance and repair, or any combination thereof.† This I believe to be critical language: constitutes a serious fire hazard, a serious health hazard, a substantial and unreasonable interference with a reasonable and lawful use of enjoyment of other premises within the neighborhood or a factor seriously depreciating property values in the neighborhood.† †I do not think the evidence that was presented in the letter from Mr. Parham to the Council contains no facts which support the definition of blighted premises on behalf of the City.† There are no problems with the age of the building.† The building was constructed in 1976.† It is around the same age as the other houses in the neighborhood.† It is not obsolete.† Thereís nothing that makes this house more or less livable than any other houses in the neighborhood.† In terms or dilapidation or deterioration, my client will come up and talk to you in a minute.† Heís made efforts to keep the property maintained, mowed the grass, take care of the premises, so that it is maintained.† The property is vacant.† However, there have been problems with having the property rented. ††Just because the property is vacant doesnít mean the property is blighted under the definition.† There is nothing in the definition that automatically makes a vacant property a blighted property.† But most importantly is that there has been no evidence presented by the City that deals with the second half of the definition of blighted premises which requires that the property be some sort of hazard, or interferes with the use of other property, or to depreciate property values in the neighborhood.† There has been nothing in the letter to show that the house is a health hazard.† Thereís been nothing presented that shows the house is a fire hazard.† There are no facts in the letter that there had been complaints of Mr. Andersonís property interfering with any of the neighborhoodís use of their own properties.† Thereís nothing blocking other properties.† Thereís nothing coming from Mr. Andersonís property that is harming other peopleís property.† As far as seriously depreciating property values in the neighborhood, there has been no evidence of that.† There has been merely an opinion set forth by Mr. Parhamís letter that he believes that property values in the neighborhood are possibly being depreciated because of the condition of Mr. Andersonís house.† The statute requires evidence and the statute requires that there be a serious depreciation of the value of the surrounding properties because of the condition of this property.†
Mr. L. Schneider passed around some photographs, one from the Tri-County† Press and some photographs that Mr. Anderson had taken.† Mr. Anderson had compiled a list of properties in the neighborhood that been sold.† A property at 12008 Greencastle sold in 2004 for $190,000.† Mr. Schneider showed a report from the Hamilton County Auditorís Office that gives the value history showing that Mr. Andersonís property was appraised similarly to other properties in the neighborhood at the time the appraisal was made.†
Mr. L. Schneider introduced Mr. Anderson.† Mr. Schneider asked what steps have you taken in the past year to maintain the property?† Mr. Anderson replied we mowed the lawn, trimmed the bushes, did the landscaping, repaired soffits, repaired underneath the garage door so that it would close better.† Weíve done work on the interior as needed.
Mr. L. Schneider asked how often do you mow the lawn and trim the bushes?† Mr. Anderson answered approximately every two weeks.
Mr. L. Schneider asked is it your intention to continue to maintain the premises?† Mr. Anderson replied yes.† Iíve left my phone number with the Building Department and asked them to call me if they had any concerns.† They have never done.
Mr. L. Schneider asked have you ever received any complaints directly from your neighbors?† Mr. Anderson said no.† Mr. Schneider asked have you met any of your neighbors?† Mr. Anderson responded I met the man across the street a couple of times and he was very pleasant.† The one to the south of him took me home when I had a vehicle breakdown.†† Mr. Schneider asked were there any complaints?† Mr. Anderson said no.
Mr. L. Schneider asked does anything extend over on the neighborís property or block the sidewalks or roads?† Mr. Anderson replied no.
Mr. L. Schneider asked have you known anybody to get hurt on your property?† Have you ever had a problem with fires on the property?† Mr. Anderson replied no to both.
Mr. L. Schneider asked have you ever had any gas leaks on the property?† Mr. Anderson replied there is no gas service at the property.
Mr. L. Schneider asked has anybody ever told you they had problems selling their house in that neighborhood because of the way your house is?† Mr. Anderson replied no.
Mr. L. Schneider said you mow the grass and do upkeep to maintain the property.† You have received notices in the past from the Building Department.† When you receive those notices do you make every effort to comply?† Mr. Anderson replied yes.
Mr. L. Schneider it was noted in Mr. Parhamís letter and the letter from the Building Department to Mayor Webster that Mr. Anderson has complied or attempted to comply with every notice from the Building Department regarding the violations he has gotten from them. There are several times that he disagreed with the Building Department about what the violation said and those did lead to issues being brought to Mayorís Court.† If you look at Mr. Andersonís record, when he receives a problem from the Building Department he is on it.† He takes care of it and he does what the Building Department asks him to do.† I think itís important that Council adhere to whatís in the ordinance and the definition of blighted premises as set forward earlier this year. †I would like the Council to please examine that blighted premises definition and if itís truly looked at, Mr. Andersonís property does not meet the definition of a blighted premises.† It is not in a condition that constitutes a serious fire hazard, a serious health hazard.† There has been no evidence presented so far that it interferes with the neighborsí property and no indication that there has been a depreciation of the surrounding properties because of the condition of his home.†
Mr. K. Schneider said you did request that we have a witness present from the City, Al Winkle.† Do you want to bring him up at this time?† Mr. L. Schneider replied no.
Mr. Parham said we find ourselves in an unfortunate situation.† Mr. Anderson has owned this property since 1993.† To our knowledge he has not occupied or rented it out to anyone else.† Mr. Schneider did present to you the definition of a blighted premise.† A couple of things that stand out in that definition that Iíve cited here in my report.† One is dilapidation, deterioration, lack of maintenance or repair.† We believe the evidence we will present this evening will clearly illustrate that the property did meet and qualify under those particular definitions.† We believe we will also be able to present to you and has for over the last twelve years, a potential safety hazard for the community.† Under that definition is the enjoyment of property of their own premises by the neighbors.† I think testimony this evening as well as correspondence we will see from other neighbors will present to you their discomfort and lack of enjoyment of their own properties because of what Mr. Anderson has presented to the community.† As to deterioration, dilapidation and lack of maintenance I think the attachment as well as testimony from Mr. McErlane, Building Official will clearly present that evidence for you.†
Mr. McErlane said in the middle of the letter of November 1, the reference that says 99.03B2 should be 99.03A2.† That specific section gives criteria for determination of blighted premises.† That section says the owner of the premises cannot or will not prevent recurrence of blight.† We believe that over the twelve year period of time the twenty notices of violations that have been issued and the five instances of citing to Mayorís Court, in addition to six occurrences where the property has been vandalized or broken into over that period of time, it is our opinion that the owner has not taken necessary measures to prevent occurrence of blight on the property.† Mr. McErlane read his letter of the summary of violations.
††††††††††† The following is a Building Department history for the above referenced property based on information contained in our correspondence files.† The files actually go back to 1991 prior to Mr. Anderson owning the property and we had issued a violation notice to the previous owners about flaking paint and broken shutters on the property.† That was corrected.† In 1993 we sent a violation notice to Household Realty who had taken possession of the property to cut the grass and that was corrected.
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Weekly observation
Ė no progress observed until
4/9/03††††††††††††††††††† Mr. Anderson pled No Contest on both counts at Mayors Court received 1 year probation and $200 fine on each count
Mr. Parham said the purpose here this evening is to
eliminate the blight.† For twelve years
weíve not only tried to eliminate the blight, but also the recurrence of
blight.† Thus far, Mr. Anderson has
continued to allow this property to deteriorate, to allow tall weeds and
grass.† Mr. Parham passed around some
pictures taken on
Mr. Parham continued on†
On June 8th a notice was issued to repair
the broken rear window by
Mr. L. Schneider asked Mr. McErlane, do you have first hand knowledge of all of these violations.† Mr. McErlane replied yes.
Mr. L. Schneider said the first two violations did not relate to Mr. Anderson.† It appears that after all the violations Mr. Anderson corrected the problems.† Is that true?† Mr. McErlane replied in a large number of incidences that is correct.
Mr. L. Schneider asked did you call Mr. Anderson prior to issuing these violations?† Mr. McErlane answered there have been instances that we have contacted him by phone, but not on the majority of cases.†
Mr. L. Schneider asked when you did contact him, did he correct the problem?† Mr. McErlane replied in some of those instances we followed up with written violations so weíre not sure if it was the phone call or written violation that caused the correction.
Mr. L. Schneider said the violation of
M. L. Schneider asked do you remember how the property was broken into?† Mr. McErlane replied our best estimate is since the door frame on the front door was broken, that was the method by which they entered the property.
M. L. Schneider said so it was a forced entry.† Did you ever find out who was responsible for that forced entry?† Mr. McErlane replied thatís not my job to do that but no, I canít say that I did.† In response to Mr. Schneiderís question, Mr. McErlane said he was never informed of it.
M. L. Schneider asked was there ever an investigation?† Mr.† McErlane answered you would have to ask the Police Department that.
Mr. L. Schneider said, Mr. Parham, I would like to
ask you about the photographs you submitted to Council.† Mr. Schneider said the photos taken
Mr. Parham replied to my knowledge, as I go back to Mr. McErlaneís letter, I do believe the majority of those things were eventually corrected.†
Mr. L. Schneider said these pictures do not represent the house today.† You mentioned the definition of blighted property.† Have you had a chance to review the definition of blighted property in Section 99.01A?† The focus of the statute is to prevent certain conditions of the property happening.† One is a fire hazard and one is a health hazard.† You mentioned a safety hazard.† Is there anything written into the statute regarding a safety hazard.
Mr. Parham responded the term safety is not included in the definition as Iím glancing through it rather quickly.† A serious health hazard one could also assume means safety.
Mr. L. Schneider said I would like you to look at the photographs taken December 5.† It looks like there is a picture of a boarded window that appears to be on the front of the house, a photograph of the screen door with something behind the screen door, and then a photograph of the front of the house, and a photograph of the front of the house with some shrubbery and trees.† Is there anything showing a fire or health hazard from these photographs?† Mr. Parham replied I think potentially with the shrubbery at the rear door.† With it being winter most of the leaves are off the tree but the vegetation growing in front of the sliding door could present a safety issue of egress as well as on the other two pictures depending upon your interpretation.†
Mr. L. Schneider said again you mentioned a safety issue but I asked you about a fire hazard or health hazard.† Does the bush that has some twigs in front of that door present a fire hazard or because of the boarded windows or anything represented in these pictures?
Iím not sure any bush or tree that sits alone presents a fire hazard or health hazard.† I think something would have to initiate that hazard.
Mr. L. Schneider showed photographs of properties in
Mr. Parham replied in all honesty, I canít determine where the doors are located on these properties, probably because of the size of them.† We encourage people to have shrubberies and plants on their property as well as throughout the community.† Even if we were to assume that those shrubberies on those particular properties were blocking the entrance to particular doors to those properties, it does not say that that is the proper location of that shrubbery.† Maybe we have addressed the issue with those two locations.† We shall pursue it since you brought it to our attention.
Mr. Galster asked since this is not relative to this particular property, should we consider it as evidence in this particular case?
Mr. K. Schneider responded Council consider whatever evidence they choose to consider.
Mr. L. Schneider stated I would like you to consider
the photographs and the credibility of Mr. Parham and his determination that
the shrub that was presented in the
Mr. Parham responded I think when individuals broke into the property, that by itself does not necessarily present qualifies as the definition of blight, but the lack of response on the part of the property owner to allow the property to sit unattended, unaddressed and those issues to continue to go on, I think that does have an impact on the property owners and those properties that surround that particular property.† As Mr. McErlane stated before, a lot of times the Building Department wouldnít call Mr. Anderson and there would be a time from the notice being sent out until Mr. Anderson had a time to respond to that notice.† Would you agree with that?†
Mr. Parham replied I would agree with you that there is some delay on the time the mail arrives; however, if you read the citation one down, on 3/23 some six days after and some six days prior to Mr. Anderson addressing the issue, Mr. Anderson was telephoned by Mr. Ron Smith, the then Property Maintenance Director.† There is no delay in that phone conversation.†
Mr. L. Schneider said on the 29th Mr.
Mr. L. Schneider said regarding the
Mr. L. Schneider said this is a copy of Springdale
Ordinance Section 155.110C.† You were
discussing this section earlier when you were describing Mr. Andersonís recent
citation thatís been issued regarding the boarding of his windows thatís
reflected in the photographs of
Mr. Parham read:† ďVacant Buildings Section 155.110 Requirements for Vacant Buildings and Premises, Section C:† Windows shall be fully supplied with window glass which is glazed and without open cracks or holes; shall have sash in good condition which fit reasonably well within frames, or if window glazing is not readily available, secure window opening with exterior grade ĹĒ thick plywood painted on the outside to match the exterior color scheme of the building until such time as the window glass can be replaced.† Windows temporarily secured with plywood shall be replaced with suitable glazing materials within thirty days of the temporary repair.
Mr. L. Schneider asked is there anything in that statute that requires the plywood to be taken down after the window glazing is put in?
Mr. Parham responded it states ďif window glazing is not readily available, secure window opening with exterior grade ĹĒ thick plywood painted on the outside to match the exterior color scheme of the building until such time the window glass can be replaced.Ē† The interpretation is that once you replace the window glass, you are to remove the plywood.
Mr. L. Schneider stated that is one interpretation but that is not the only interpretation of that statute.
Mr. Parham said since we are the regulating agency, I think our interpretation is the one that matters.
The public hearing was opened to the public.
Mr. Galster asked do you believe the condition, rather it be maintenance repair or the upkeep deterioration, has been a detriment to your property value and to your use and enjoyment of your home.
Mr. Stokes replied yes.
Mr. L. Schneider said you just said Mr. Andersonís property interferes with the use of your property.† In what way does it interfere?† Mr. Stokes replied the weeds, for one.
Mr. L. Schneider asked is Mr. Anderson the only neighbor who has weeks in his yard?† Mr. Stokes answered his property is right next to mine so I would say yes.
Mr. L. Schneider asked do you know if itís the seeds from Mr. Andersonís yard that are spreading into your yard?† Mr. Stokes replied Iím not an expert but Iíd have to say yes because his yard is full of weeds, full of dandelions.
Mr. L. Schneider asked do you agree that he keeps it trimmed?† Mr. Stokes replied this past year heís done a pretty good job.† Mr. L. Schneider asked how have the weeds been in your yard this year?† Mr. Stokes replied the weeds are there.† His weeds have not been treated.† The whole yard is full of weeds.
Mr. L. Schneider said suppose someone lived in the house and they cut the grass every two weeks.† Would that make any difference on whether there are weeds in the yard?† Mr. Stokes replied I would ask the person to treat their weeds.
Mr. L. Schneider said you stated the property decreases your property value?† Have you tried to sell your home?† Mr. Stokes replied no.
Mr. L. Schneider asked have you refinanced your home?† If so, what was it appraised at?† Mr. Stokes replied it was appraised at $174,000 or $175, 000.† Thatís a good value.†
L. Schneider asked do you know of anything Mr. Anderson does to invite people to break into his house?† Mr. Stokes replied I wouldnít think he would.
L. Schneider stated you discussed safety but Iíd like to keep the focus on issues of serious threat of fire or health.† Is there a serious threat of fire that you see at that house?† Mr. Stokes replied based on a conversation I had with one of the police officers, that was a concern.† L. Schneider asked do you have a serious concern that a fire will break out in the home?†† Mr. Stokes replied no.† L. Schneider asked do you have an concerns about noxious vapors or other things that might be detrimental to your health.† Mr. Stokes replied no.
Mr. Danbury asked Mr. Stokes why would you want to have your lawn treated?
Mr. Stokes responded to improve the property.† I like having a nice looking yard.
Mr. Danbury asked are you aware that the City has a dump truck you can use at no charge?† Mr. Stokes replied no.
Mr. Danbury asked how often do you see kids around there?† Is it a local gathering place?† Mr.† Stokes replied this last year, no.† We have been there since 1978 and over the past several years kids used to come quite often, or we would flag down an officer or other City employee and let them know what we had seen.
Mr. Danbury asked Mr. L. Schneider, if someone were to go into the home and get injured, what recourse do they have?† Could they sue the homeowner or the City?
Mr. L. Schneider replied you are asking me for legal advice.
Mr. K. Schneider said it could be in the nature, an attractive nuisance, drawing those kids in, drawing potential dangers there, potential fire, of conditions initiated by a lack of care for the property, and letting open to elements.
Mr. L. Schneider said to further expound on what Mr. K. Schneider has said, if the property is deemed to be an attractive nuisance, the person who is responsible for that attractive nuisance is sitting right here, Mr. Anderson.† It is in Mr. Andersonís best interest not to have people break into this house.†
Mr. K. Schneider said that is part of the reason we would like to see matters handled.
Mr. Wilson said you mentioned having your lawn treated five times a year.† Is it safe to say that your neighbors other than Mr. Anderson do the same thing and take the same pride in their property?† Mr. Stokes answered yes.† I donít think his lawn has ever been treated.
Mr. Wilson asked Mr. Anderson, have you ever had your lawn treated?† Mr. Anderson replied no, but I donít think it is pertinent to the discussion.†
Mr. Wilson stated if your lawn was treated, Mr. Stokes wouldnít have an issue with his lawn having to be treated five or more times a year because of yours.
Mr. Anderson said I donít think that is pertinent to what is going on.† Other people in the City donít treat their lawns.† Itís not in the City Code.
Mr. Wilson said because of the lack of maintenance on your lawn, heís having to have his lawn treated that much more often.† Would you agree with me that lack of normal maintenance has caused all these citations over the years?† Youíve been cited in the past for grass growing high.†
Mr. Anderson stated at times I think the Cityís had a little burr under their rear end and they have cited us for grass when it didnít violate the Cityís ordinances.†
Mr. Wilson said you didnít answer my question.† Would you agree with me that normal maintenance would not have caused all these citations, normal maintenance, grass, shrubbery, painting?
Mr. Anderson said I do not agree for reasons I just stated.† There have been legitimate ones but many of them have not been.
Mr. Stokes, do you take extended vacations?† Mr. Stokes replied yes.† Mr. Vanover asked do you contact the Police Department or a neighbor and ask them to keep an eye on your house?† Mr. Stokes replied each and every time.
Mr. Vanover asked Mr. Anderson, is there electric service on in the house currently?† Mr. Anderson said yes.†
Mr. Vanover asked is the house insured?† Mr. Anderson replied yes.† Mr. Vanover asked is your insurance carrier aware of the situation?† Mr. Anderson replied yes.†
Mr. Vanover said the part of the attractive nuisance is a danger to our safety forces; for example, the infestation of termites.† Mr. Anderson stated that was not true.
Mr. Vanover said if they have to respond, the situation is less than what a prudent man would maintain.† You put our City forces at risk.
Mr. Anderson stated I maintain my property in good condition.† The problem we have is break-ins and a lack of cooperation with the Police Department and City Administrator† when we have asked for help.† We have given phone numbers.† We would love to be called.† We are not called when there is a break-in.† We receive notice a week later or two weeks later.
Mr. Vanover asked do you have motion detector lights on the house?† Mr. Anderson replied no.† Mr. Anderson said there are certain things if you have a problem, a prudent man would take steps to do.† If you are going to leave your premises empty for a period of time Ė have you ever contacted the Police Department about hiring an off-duty officer?
Mr. Anderson replied no, I have not.† We did contact them when we had a break-in.† Weíve asked them to come and investigate.† The Police Chief said you can request one but implied in his voice that he wouldnít.
Mr. L. Schneider said Mr. Anderson, Mr. Vanover asked about the safety of first responders and emergency officials.† Is there anything in the premises now that would prevent a fireman from getting in, or causing a problem if the police had to go in there?† Are there any unseen hazards in the interior or on the exterior?† Mr. Anderson replied no.
Mr. Vanover asked has all the drywall inside been repaired and taken care of?† Mr. Anderson replied yes, in 2002.
Mr. Galster said thank you Mr. Stokes, for being the first one to step us there.† Given the fact or where you are located and the relationship to this property, there are a lot of things in the reports that you heard about door frames being outside.† Can you attest to the fact that they were out there for an extended time?† Mr. Stokes said yes.†
Mr. Galster said I donít know how long it takes us to issue a citation for mowing grass, but I would assume that when the grass was long, before the citation was issued, it would take a week to get the citation issued.† Prior to this past year did it seem like the grass was always long?† Mr. Stokes replied this past year was one of the best.† In the past it would get high in spurts.
Mr. Galster said I understand that you made phone calls to the police in the past about somebody breaking in or broken windows.† If a window is broken at your own home, how long would it take you to fix that window?† Mr. Stokes replied immediately, that same day.†† Mr. Galster said if youíre not home it takes longer because you donít know that the window is broken.†
Mr. Galster said Mr. Anderson, you made a statement as to whether it was unsafe or there were any hazards happening inside the house.† How do I know that?† If Iím a police officer and Iím going to investigate a possible break-in at a house and the windows are boarded up, how do I know thereís not somebody behind that boarded up window that has a gun?† I donít know those issues because I canít see into the home.
M. Anderson said I think there are many times they go into garages that have no windows.†† Mr. L. Schneider said curtains in front of a window, drawn shades prevent seeing inside a house.† I understand the concern you have for the safety of first responders, but there has been no evidence presented that the inside of Mr. Andersonís house is any different than the inside of any other house.† There is no evidence presented that if Mr. Andersonís house was occupied, that those people wouldnít have shades in the windows that could be drawn and prevent anyone from seeing inside.
Mr. Galster stated but we have seen evidence that the inside of the house has been vandalized, the property has been broken into.† Thatís not out of the realm of possibilities that it could happen again.† If thereís nobody there to notice the window broke or the door unsecure short of us having a police officer walk up there and check it for you every day,
M. L. Schneider said I did discuss that with Mr. Anderson.† It is an investment.† You do hold onto and you visit the property on a regular basis.† Mr. Anderson said every two weeks.
Ms. Pollitt asked Mr. Stokes, did it ever bother you that the people who broke into the house next door and didnít find anything to take that they might target your house next?† Mr. Stokes replied every time an intruder goes next door, itís just as easy to come to your home too once you leave.
Mr. Squires stated we have seen a number of pictures distributed by Council that has shown considerable damage to that house inside.† According to testimony those have been fixed.† Is that house ready to be rented as of tomorrow?
Mr. Anderson replied the house is in good shape.† The concern Iíve had all along is that we have had lack of cooperation from the police.† They wouldnít investigate.
Mr. Squires asked if you put it on the market could you expect to get a good price out of it according to what Mr. Stokes has said?† Mr. Anderson replied yes, it would sell eventually for $180,000.
Mr. Squires asked is it still boarded up?† Mr. Anderson replied I kept the boards up because I donít feel they are a violation of City ordinances as I read them.†† I think they offer protection from the stones being thrown.† I left the bushes longer in front of the front windows for the same reason, to try to offer some protection.† If they donít have a direct target to throw at, that means we donít get broken windows.
Mr. Squires said that is an issue between you and the City.† We think they should come down within thirty days and you do not.
Mr. Anderson said I donít think the ordinance states that.
Mr. Parham said there was reference made about the Police Department and their lack of attention, etc.† Iíd like Chief Laage to come forward and address any calls and details that have been addressed to that home.
Chief Laage said we have had some issues at that
house involving juveniles.† I would state
very honestly to you that anytime you have a vacant property you will begin to
have problems after a while.† We try to
check vacant properties and do vacation checks while people are away from the
home.† More things happen to a home when
no oneís there.† This goes back many,
many years but I donít have a litany of reports from Mr. Anderson reference to
problems at that house.† The first report
I have was in August 2002 when I called Mr. Anderson in reference to a problem
that I heard he had with our department.†
I called and asked him what his complaint was.† He immediately became very agitated with me
and complained about the juveniles getting into the house.† I told him that the house was open and
somebody had gotten into the house.† I
told him I would make a report but I had no report of a break-in at that
time.† I assigned a juvenile
investigator, Joe Warren, to review that case.†
He did go to a number of residents in the area to canvas the
neighborhood to see if anyone saw anybody there.† When he was talking with two individuals they
said they were unaware of any current activity but they were aware of past
incidents of juveniles getting into the residence.† They said some years ago some unknown kids
were getting into the house and starting fires in the fireplace.† They were both upset about the condition of
the house.† Another resident said he has
called several times about the condition of the house.† He has not seen anyone go inside the house
but he has seen kids from another residence hanging around there.† Our investigator did go to that resident and
questioned the parent and tried to determine if these kids were responsible for
that damage.† They didnít admit it.† We have to have evidence to charge someone
criminally.† I remember
Mr. Parham said you indicated that the juveniles and the information you had was in 2002.† Could you give the date of the document Ms. Thetford is passing to you and read that into the record?
Chief Laage read: ď
Mr. L. Schneider said I asked a member of your department to print out all the incidents at 12065 Greencastle that the Police Department has record of going back the past five years.†† Thereís a spot in here that says Building complaint.†
Mr. Laage said the narrative is somewhat lacking in
the way this is printed out.† On
Mr. L. Schneider said a lot of these say building complaint.
Chief Laage read: Building Department complaint,
Mr. L. Schneider asked what does PFO mean?† Chief Laage replied it means place found open.† That means the officer did check it.†
Chief Laage read a list of complaints. †One was inside, unable to locate information
on owner.† Another one
Mr. L. Schneider said in the last five years there are ten entries in the computer system.† Thatís about two a year.† A lot of these seem to be issues relating to the Building Department.† It looks like there was one PFO (place found open) but there was no evidence of anybody inside or anybody being hurt.
Chief Laage said those narratives are not complete.† I believe in 2002 when I entered it with Mr. Winkle or Mr. McErlane, there was evidence of juveniles being in there.† There was damage to drywall.† Animals had gotten in there, you could tell.†
Mr. L. Schneider said do you coordinate with the Fire Department and respond to fires?† Chief Laage replied yes.† Mr. L. Schneider asked do you know if there have ever been any problems with fires at that house?† Chief Laage replied not that I know of.
Mr. L. Schneider asked do you of know of any citations regarding health issues, leaking natural gas or noxious odors, etc.† Chief Laage said I think the discovery of the mold was a health issue but I donít think the Health Department, per se, was involved in that.
Mr. Schneider said you donít know of any serious problems with that house with fire or health issues.† Chief Laage said I would say I do know because the Police Department is the eyes and ears of the City.†† I continually have citizens complain about the issues at 12065.† The issues are why arenít we doing anything, why can we let this go on like this.† It is a continual problem. †
Mr. L. Schneider asked for a break.† Council broke at and reconvened at
Mr. Galster asked would you say the lack of maintenance has been a detriment to your ability to sell the home or has it had a serious effect on your home, in your opinion?† Mrs. Stokes replied yes.† When we did our last financing the person who came to the house asked what is with that thing next door?†
Mr. L. Schneider said your husband said your house was appraised several years ago for $174,000.† Do you think that is a fair price?† Mrs. Stokes said probably in light of what the other houses are selling for, if the properties around us support it more with their outside design and the upkeep of their properties, it would probably appraise at a higher value.
Mr. L. Schneider asked do you know what other houses in the neighborhood are selling for?† Mrs. Stokes responded with my daughter being a real estate agent, we check frequently.† Perhaps if we had better surrounding areas on both sides, we could be in the $190,000 area because we have had extensive work done on the inside.†
Mr. L. Schneider said you said problems on both sides.† Whatís the problem with the other side?† Mrs. Stokes said the other side is fine.
Mr. Galster asked Mr. Anderson, do you have any knowledge of structural damage to the property other than the stairs leading up to the front door?† Mr. Anderson replied Iím not aware of any structural damage.
Mr. Galster asked how was the mold removed?† Mr. Anderson responded the drywall was removed.† Mold is everywhere.† If itís not significant it will disappear on its own.† If itís significant on drywall you have to use a bleach solution.
Mr. Galster asked did you do that?† Mr. Anderson replied the drywall was the only thing that had mold and it wasnít even live mold, and that was removed.
Mr. L. Schneider asked do you know of any mold in the house now?† Mr. Anderson replied no.
Mr. Squires said I asked you earlier if your house was ready to be rented and you replied in the affirmative.† Do you intend to rent it?
Mr. Anderson responded we intend to sell it.† This size of a house doesnít rent profitably.
Mr. Danbury said I asked you earlier about insurance.† What kind of insurance do you have?† The Stokes said people were sunbathing on the roof?† Iím concerned about you.
Mr. Anderson stated youíd have to talk to a lawyer about what the liabilities are.†
Mr. Galster asked is there a timeframe you are looking at to sell the property?† Mr. Anderson answered we would have liked to sell it before but we had problems with it because we havenít had cooperation with the City.† When we talked with the City Manager heís basically told us where to go.† When we talked to the Police Chief, heís not been cooperative.† We had it all fixed up originally and the City didnít seem to be concerned about it.
Mr. Galster asked but you are not opposed to selling it now?† Mr. Anderson replied Iím not opposed to selling it.
Mr. Galster asked do you have a standard homeownerís policy or is it a decreased policy because it is vacant and you shut the gas off.† Mr. Anderson replied I have a standard ownerís policy.
Mrs. McNear said itís my understanding that if you have a vacant house you cantí have a homeownerís policy but you can have a fire policy.
Mr. Wilson said I have been trying to contain
myself.† I have been an insurance agent
for twenty-three years.† First of all, if
a house is vacant for thirty days you have no insurance, whether you continue
to pay the premium or not.† If you have a
claim and the insurance company realizes that house has been vacant since 1993,
you have no claim.† This is not
particular to the issue here and thatís why I have refrained from
speaking.† My concern as a district
Council person and as a resident of this City, if there is a fire and that fire
spreads to other homes, their insurance will pay, but it was caused by you and
you donít have insurance.† I donít know
who your agent is or your company.†
Hopefully itís not mine.† I donít
want to know because if I find out and I donít report it thatís an EOO (error
of omission).† I get fined.† I can lose my license.† If you donít own the house and donít live in
it, you can have a fire policy, but someone has to be living in that
house.† If no one lives in that house
there is no insurance out there except for one company in
Mr. Squires asked is there a timeframe for you selling the house?† Do you want to put it on the market immediately?† Mr. Anderson replied I donít have a timeframe at the present time.† Iím not against selling it. †I would like to have sold it years ago but we were having trouble keeping it together because we didnít have the cooperation of the City.
Mr. Squires asked are you willing to commit that you want to put this on the market in the next month?† Mr. Anderson replied I donít think I need to commit to anything like that.
Ms. Pollitt asked what do you think the Cityís responsibility to you at this residence is?† What have we not done that you wanted to have done?
Mr. Anderson said I left my phone number with them.† I think I have received one or two phone calls on grass and thatís it.† I would like to know if there is a problem and not find out about it weeks later.†† When we had the break-in in 2002 I would like to have had the Police Department come over and take fingerprints and collect evidence.† Things had been moved around.
Ms. Pollitt said if it was a vacant home what was moved around?† Mr. Anderson replied there was a shop vac in the garage that had been picked up and thrown.† There were paint cans that had thrown against the walls and a variety of other things in which evidence could have been gathered from,
Ms. Pollitt asked do you think itís the Cityís responsibility to call me and the rest of the people sitting here if the grass gets a little high? †Mr. Anderson replied many times when we were called the grass wasnít out of the legal limits.
Ms. Pollitt said so you were called on many occasions.† Mr. Anderson replied no it was only about two occasions.† I would like to have been called.† When we were cited we were not really out of code.† Many times the lawn was mowed before we ever received it because you receive it weeks after its been cited.
Ms. Pollitt said I believe we have some correspondence that had been sent over the past number of years that was not picked up.† Due diligence was done by the City to contact you.†
Mr. Anderson stated we werenít called.† Ms. Pollitt replied I donít think any
government entity is going to pick up a phone and call you to tell you your
grass needs to be cut.† I would not
expect for the City I live in to personally call me and tell me my grass needs
to be cut.† I would hope I could look at
it and see.† How often do you cut your
grass at home in
Mr. Anderson replied every week or two.† Ms. Pollitt said donít you think you owe it to this City to cut your grass every week or two?† Mr. Anderson replied I do.
Ms. Pollitt stated apparently not.† There have been too many citations here from the Building Department.† The resources that have been utilitized on this one piece of property for thirteen years, itís deplorable that the City has had to do that.† I donít feel the City has not let you down in any way by not picking up a phone and asking you to please mow your grass.
Mr. Wilson said you indicated that you put the house
up for sale previously.† I have lived in
Mr. Anderson responded I already answered that question.† We were getting ready to do it and we got a break-in.† The Police Department said the officer who called said he didnít give an ďfĒ word.†
Mr. Wilson said that was the one time you didnít put a sign out.† Mr. Anderson replied we havenít had cooperation from the City.†
Mr. Wilson asked if you hadnít had the break-in would you have put the sign up?† Mr. Anderson replied it would have been sold many years ago.
Mr. Wilson stated that was one incident in 2002 when we had the break-in.† You have already made the repairs.† Mr. Anderson we are talking about 1993-1994.†
Mr. Wilson said if the break-in was in 1994 and this is 2005 I am assuming you have made enough repairs that if you wanted to put the house up for sale, you could have done it after 1993 or 1994.†† Relative to fingerprints, Iím a former military police officer so I can speak to that.† If an individual does not have a prior record fingerprints donít mean squat.† You canít blame the police officer for not taking fingerprints
Mr. Vanover asked outside of repairs to damage that has been incurred what other improvements have been done in the house?† Mr. Anderson said we underpinned the chimney, the southwest corner of the house, repaired the veneer on the garage.† We completely re-carpeted the house, painted the house, fixed soffit, painted the exterior.
Mr. Vanover asked how much of that has been from neglect?† Mr. Anderson replied some of it was maintenance.†
Mr. Vanover said you had the break-in in 1994.† Mr. Anderson stated we didnít have a break-in in 1994.† I think it was 1992 and we have had other ones.† I donítí have the dates in front of me.
Mr. Vanover said I, like Ms. Pollitt, find it amazing that you would feel slighted because we didnít pick up the telephone.† I just had to pay a penalty because I did not stay on top of my professional license.† Nobody called me.† Thatís my responsibility to keep up with it.† I spent Memorial Day putting a new roof on my house.† I didnít wait for the City to send me a memory jogger.† Usually if you are a property owner you want to stay ahead of the curve.† You donít want to wait until the door falls off before you put a new one up there.† To rail that the City has been unfair is amazing.† Would you want to live next door to a house like this?
Mr. Anderson replied I donít have a problem.
Mr. Galster asked is there anything you are doing now or are planning to do in the future to address the problems that presently exist on the house or to alleviate and eliminate the continual maintenance code violation problem that seems to be attached to this household?
Mr. Anderson replied I donít think there are any violations right now.† I keep my property up.† I keep my other properties up.
Mr. Galster said is that to say you will continue to keep it up as you have in the past that generated X amount of citations for property maintenance violations, or that youíll do a better job so you wonít have so many property maintenance violations?
Mr. Anderson responded my aim is not to have property maintenance violations.† I gave them the phone number to try to get a relationship built up.† They did not the relationship to be built up.† They wanted an adversarial one.† Many of the violations werenít a violation.† Most of them are grass and most of the time the grass wasnít illegal when it was mowed and it was mowed before we received the citation.†
Mr. Galster said I am just looking at four court citations and the fifth one that is pending.† Those are not just grass.† I
Mr. Anderson responded I received one citation and it was a mistake made by me.† I didnít read the dates on the darn thing the first time.† That was 2002.† Iíve never received any other citations to go to court except the current ones which I think are invalid.† I would like the City to show where I paid fines for any of them.
Mr. Galster asked are there any additional things you plan on doing to try to eliminate the frequency of the property maintenance violations that are happening with the residence?
Mr. Anderson replied the violations are less than two per year.† I would prefer to not have any.† The more serious ones you are talking about are out of my control.†
Mr. Galster said when it comes to the broken glass and repairing those in a timely fashion, the gutters and things like that are beyond your control.
Mr. Anderson stated when we see things that need to be maintained we take care of them.† Your people are faster than we are.† They get there in the spring before we do.
Mr. Galster asked does it seem that maintenance is more dictated by us making a citation than your actual desire to keep the property maintained?† Mr. Anderson replied I donít know how to answer that.
Mr. Danbury we have had numerous discussions up here on people being cited for dings on their houses.† Every single elected official living here, myself included, has gotten a letter saying you need to fix something so this is not a witch hunt.† We have rules and regulations.† We have to make laws to make sure that everything is done in a proper manner.† You may not agree with it.† You donít have a choice.† If we say you have to have your boards off the windows, itís not your interpretation because the man who wrote it and intended it said it has to come off.† If we have to pass another law and say specifically this is what it is, then thatís what weíll do.† Thereís been testimony who said they didnít appreciate how you said this or that but thatís not what we have to look at.† We have to make a determination as to whether this property is a detriment to the citizens in the area.† Is this an eyesore?† Is it a safety factor?† Iíd like to see if we can at least bring in an ordinance at our next meeting?
Mr. Osborn stated we donít feel there is anything wrong with the current ordinance.†
Mr. Parham asked that some correspondence be read into the record.
Mr. Knox read a letter from Gerald L. Mattingly: ďI
have lived in
Mr. Knox said the second is an e-mail that was sent
directly to me.† It states: ďIn 1993 I
purchased a home at 12055 Greencastle and my wife Rebecca and I lived there
until 2001.† One of the key determinants
in our decision to sell our home and move was the deteriorating condition of
the property immediately north ours.†
That property, I believe the address is 12065 Greencastle, was
apparently vacant in 1993 and remained vacant the entire time we lived on
Greencastle.† From the time we moved in in 1993 until 2001 the condition of the property at 12065
Greencastle deteriorated to the point where I felt it was becoming an eyesore
and a safety concern in the neighborhood, and could eventually negatively
impact property values in the immediate vicinity.† While the property owner generally cut the
grass, we called
Mr. L. Schneider said to conclude about Mr.
Andersonís property, Mr. Danbury mentioned that the house was an eyesore and
obnoxious and there are young people coming into the house and there are
problems with the grass being mowed.†
There has been a lot of evidence presented tonight that there are these
problems with this house.† However, the
statute we are here to address tonight, Section 99 of the City of
Mayor Webster said I want to thank Derrick, Mr. Winkle, Mr. McErlane, Mr. Schneider, Chief Laage and you residents and† Council for your patience for this 2 Ĺ hour hearing.† There has been a tremendous amount of work and effort gone into this.† I think it is certainly well worthwhile.† Listening to everything that has gone one it would appear that Mr. Anderson and his counsel would lead you to believe that a proper level of property maintenance is to fix things when the City gets on the phone and calls them, or sends them a certified letter or regular letter.† I would contend that if that is the level that you want the City to maintain, then we would have to hire an army of inspectors.† We have 2400 residences in this community and if everyone of those residences required the attention that Mr. Anderson requires of his house, then weíd better start hiring inspectors.† Thatís totally unreasonable.† I think we have proven beyond a question of doubt that this is a health hazard.† It is a safety and fire hazard and itís certainly in deteriorating condition, and I donít think there is any evidence at all thatís been presented that says this situation is going to change going forward.† I think itís a personal affront for Mr. Anderson to sit here and tell us he was going to sell the house and in 1992 it got broken into, and thirteen years later heís never made any effort at all to sell this house.† Just by his inaction he hangs out a sign that says this house is vacant, vandalize the house.† Then he has the audacity to criticize our Police Department and City Administrator because he doesnít take care of his property.† I think for his attorney to stand here before you and say Mr. Anderson owns this property as an investment is an absolute joke.† I would respectfully request that Council consider an ordinance at the next meeting to authorize us the proper action to acquire the premises to eliminate the blight and prevent the reoccurrence of blight in accordance to the provisions of this charter.
Mrs. McNear said weíve had a request to remove Item 9 from this meeting and reschedule it to the next meeting.† The request was granted by acclamation.
††††††††††† OLD BUSINESS†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† -†††††††††† none
††††††††††† NEW BUSINESS
††††††††††† Mr. Knox said we have a request for a liquor license change for Snookers.† The gentleman who owns Snookers had his own corporation known as the Hamilton Bank Equipment Company as the owner.† His lawyer advised him to do away with the corporation so he had that name taken off the liquor license and had his own name put on the liquor license.† There were no objections.
††††††††††† Mrs. McNear said I talked with Mr. Knox earlier and asked him to jot something across the top of liquor license requests to let us know if itís new, a renewal, change of ownership, etc.†† Mr. Knox said I volunteered to put on there what the liquor license does for them.
††††††††††† Mr. Osborn said on November 30 we had a bid opening for an HVAC replacement at the Fire Department.† We had an estimate from our mechanical engineers who designed the system of $262,000.† The most complete bid we received came in at $423,000 and that still missed the component of having a prime contractor.† Clearly this project is well off-base.† We are asking legislation be brought in at the next meeting to reject all bids.† Itís our intention to reexamine this project later in 2006, perhaps break it down into two components because the money we have budgeted in 2006 is insufficient to do work of this magnitude.
††††††††††† Mr. Osborn stated that Dave Okum has been elected to the Regional Planning Commission.†
††††††††††† Mr. Ordinance said the City Engineerís office has submitted a contract proposal and weíd like to review that.† We are anticipating there is no problem with the contract and suggest you consider legislation at the next meeting.
††††††††††† MEETINGS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
††††††††††† Board of Health†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† -†††††††††† December 8
††††††††††† Planning Commission††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† -†††††††††† December 13
††††††††††† Board of Zoning Appeals†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† -†††††††††† December 20
††††††††††† Finance Committee††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† -†††††††††† December 15
COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE††††††††††† - ††††††††† none
UPDATE ON LEGISLATION STILL IN DEVELOPMENT
Ordinance 63-2005†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† -†††††††††† December 21
Resolution appointing BZA member†††††††††††††††††††††††††† -†††††††††† later date
RECAP OF LEGISLATIVE ITEMS REQUESTED
Ordinance to declare 12065 Greencastle blighted†††† -†††††††††† December 21
Rejecting bids for Fire Department HVAC††††††††††††††††† -†††††††††† December 21
Agreement with CDS††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† -†††††††††† December 21
Council adjourned at
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Respectfully submitted,
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Edward† F. Knox
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Clerk of Council/Finance Director
Kathy McNear, President of Council