Thursday, July 3rd, 2008
By Shelley Grieshop
County health officials take action on lakeside property
The local health board is asking the court for help to seal off or possibly demolish a property near Grand Lake that has become a public nuisance.
The privately-owned property at Doss Landing, south of the lake, includes a house trailer and a shed and is located in the midst of a campground. Health officials, who began investigating the situation almost a year ago, found 3-feet tall grass and weeds, a crumbling foundation, an infestation of yellow jackets and a rodent problem on the site.
The home is owned by Patricia Roe of Dayton.
"We've received numerous complaints about the property," county Sanitarian Chris Miller told members of the Mercer County-Celina City Health Board, who met in regular session Wednesday.
Miller and fellow Sanitarian Michelle Kimmel have discussed the matter with Franklin Township trustees, who also were contacted by local residents concerning the eyesore.
Recent changes to the county's property maintenance code allowed the sanitarians to cite the owner for failure to keep the home's exterior free of rats and other vermin and failure to maintain weeds that could pollinate and spread to neighboring properties.
Two letters - one by certified mail - were sent to Roe last fall. Another was sent in January with an ultimatum to clean up the property before facing legal action.
Roe reportedly did not respond.
"Then we contacted the prosecutor's office," Miller said.
A charge of creating a public nuisance was filed against Roe, but court dates repeatedly were continued due to Roe's claim of medical problems. The judge asked her to appear in court June 6 to provide proof of a medical condition and when she did not show, a bench warrant was issued for her arrest.
While the court case remains pending, the prosecutor's office advised the health department to consider other options. The board on Wednesday chose to have the prosecutor's office pursue a civil lawsuit against Roe to have the property either sealed from the public or the buildings totally demolished, at her expense.
Miller said demolishing the structures would cost $2,935 and would include disposal of the material but not concrete removal. However, it would not solve the problem of the unsightly lawn.
"The neighbors are mowing the place right now ... It sure would be easier for them if the house was down," Miller added.
Health Commissioner Dr. Philip Masser inquired about the property owner's rights.
"If we demolish it, it remains her property, right?" he asked.
Miller explained that the county would not have the right to take the property from her.
Board member Ted Bertke cautioned the board about getting directly involved with demolishing properties deemed a nuisance.
"There are other properties just like this on the south side of the lake. We don't want to set a precedent," he said.
The board agreed that allowing the prosecutor's office to take the issue to court was a wise decision for now.
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