A focus in Marietta's 1st Ward - the city's largest stretching between S. Fourth Street to Lowe's along the Ohio River and to Glenwood Retirement Community and Pine Meadows - has been to improve everyone's quality of life by decreasing the number of health hazards, abandoned and junk vehicles and dangerously deteriorating and neglected buildings.
The city of Marietta operates under the 1998 International Property Management Code. The 1998 code the city police follow allows one junk vehicle to be stored outdoors on a property. The new 2012 property management code just received by Law Director Paul Bertram III clearly prohibits people from storing inoperable and unlicensed vehicles on their properties. Research by the Washington County Public Library indicates the rules actually were changed in 2000.
"302.8: Motor Vehicles: No inoperative or unlicensed motor vehicles shall be parked, kept or stored on any premises, and no vehicle shall at any time be in the state of major disassembly, disrepair or in the process of being stripped or dismantled."
Seems pretty clear.
Although we have been successful in getting at least eight junk and illegally parked vehicles removed from neighborhoods and public property, there are many more that will be impacted by the city of Marietta having the up to date code.
A junk red Cadillac has been abandoned behind a Spring Street home the past five years. An inoperable car behind an Oakwood Avenue home has been there so long it nearly was hidden by the uncut weeds.
A most visible 1980s model car is losing its paint job by the year as it deteriorates on Lancaster Street under a beautiful shade tree on an otherwise neatly kept lawn.
All of these inoperable and abandoned vehicles (oh, I'm going to fix it up for my grandchildren's children) are a blight on our beautiful neighborhoods and historic city. They are great places for rats and other critters most folks don't want running their neighborhoods.
Junk yards are paying a premium for scrap, so make yourself a couple of hundred bucks and help clean up our historic city by getting rid of the eyesores.
On the topic of nuisance complaints, a Marietta City Health Department employee suggested the city institute a financial penalty for folks that have to be repeatedly asked (ordered) by that department to comply with nuisance complaints requiring that grass and weeds be cut at least four times per years. We have examples of property owners who have to repeatedly contacted by certified mail at about $6 per notice that they need to mow or the city will contract for the work and add it to the taxes.
At least two 1st Ward property owners were the beneficiaries of having houses demolished with the federal stimulus money, but still can't be bothered to mow the properties after all of our taxpayer dollars used to clean up their derelict property. One owner has more than $1.1 million in Marietta real estate but can't seem to bother with keeping some properties mowed.
Toledo city council just instituted a $75 penalty for folks who are subject to repeated nuisance violations for uncut grass and weeds. What do you think Marietta should do?
Of course, the largest controversy to face Marietta since Marie Antoinette decided not to move here (and we know how that went) is the issue of allowing vendors to sell snow cones and other food items from vehicles in our city.
Elisha Tornes and parents Mike and Cathy Tewkesberry have a snow cone business they created because they thought it would make Marietta a little nicer place to be. They would like to sell snow cones to folks on hot days where they are gathered for ball games or other gatherings.
Most I have spoken with think it's a swell idea. My son's immediate response: "I want a snow cone." Over a recent weekend, I saw all sorts of vendors selling snow cones, popcorn, hot dogs, tacos, ribs and ice cream from a variety of vehicles and wheeled carts in our nation's capital. They added color to farmers' markets, city streets and even the National Mall.
There is limited concern in Marietta that a snow cone truck and the other hundreds of vendors who immediately will flock to the city (all would be required to meet city or county health codes) will result in: 1. children getting run over by the slow moving vehicles whose drivers already are looking for kids as customers rather than roadkill 2. childhood obesity (snow cones have sugar syrup) 3. driving existing businesses out of business because mobile vendors have unfair advantage in not owning property 4. other reasons that certainly will soon arise over this global issue.
Please let your council representatives hear from you: Snow cones Yes; Snow cones No.
Marietta City Councilman Roger G. Kalter represents the 1st Ward.