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Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

City council moves to buy property

Special meeting scheduled on Saturday to discuss issue

By William Kincaid
The city of Celina is poised to acquire and clean up a run-down property that has upset neighbors for several years.
City council members on Monday night passed first reading of an ordinance that would pay Ron "Butch" Piper as much as $54,369 to demolish and clean up his property at 230 Godfrey Avenue before handing it over to the city. The money would come from the city's contingency fund.
A special council meeting has been set up for 9 a.m. Saturday at the utilities conference room to continue discussion.
Celina Safety Service Director Rick Bachelor this morning said council members Myron Buxton, Mike Sovinski, Ed Jeffries, Bill Sell and Jeff Larmore all voted yes on first reading. Councilwoman Angie King was the lone dissenter while June Scott was absent, Bachelor said.
King sent the newspaper an e-mail this morning stating why she voted against the ordinance.
"I have been asking the city to address this issue for years, but using general fund monies and exhausting our contingency fund does not deal with the issue," King wrote. "There is legislation in place to address dilapidated, decayed and unsafe buildings. Property owners should be held accountable for the conditions of their properties, not taxpayers."
According to Bachelor, if the ordinance eventually is approved, Piper would have 30 days to clean his property. The city would inspect the property before it accepts its condition, Bachelor said.
At an earlier council meeting this month, Celina Planning and Community Development Director Kent Bryan had said he was working on a grant application to the Ohio Department of Development (ODOD).
Bryan had said $55,000 was available through ODOD's neighborhood stabilization program that if secured could be used to demolish Piper's building.
Asked why the city was no longer pursuing the grant to have the blighted property taken care of, Bachelor said there were too many strings and drawbacks attached to the funds.
Celina resident Bryan Dupes previously complained that nothing has been done to the Piper property that includes a dilapidated building, abandoned vehicles and free-roaming vermin. He gave council a petition with 58 signatures and implored them to uphold the city's junk ordinances and do something about what they consider neighborhood blight.
Dupes also had spoken of several raccoons, rats, possums and cats roaming the property.
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