The city's handling of nuisance property complaints was called into question during Thursday's Marietta City Council meeting.
Fay Avenue resident Ron Friend said a former business property near his home has not been mowed for several years now, and has become a haven for rodents and snakes.
"It's a jungle now, although the property owner has received at least three letters from the local board of health," he said. "This has been going on for 14 years, and nothing's been done. Before the city begins talking about changing the nuisance ordinance, the current law should be enforced."
Last week council's planning, zoning, annexation and housing committee discussed the need to update the city's regulation of unkempt and deteriorating properties.
During Thursday's meeting Mayor Joe Matthews said he understood Friend's dilemma.
"He has been fighting this issue with the city for a long time," Matthews said. "We went to the health department about this, but they would not enforce the nuisance complaint. They called the overgrown property 'green space.' I guess when my lawn gets too high I can just call it green space and won't have to mow it."
If you go
- Marietta City Council's streets, finance and police and fire committees are scheduled to meet beginning at 4 p.m. Wednesday in the second floor conference room at 304 Putnam St.
- All council and committee meetings, except executive sessions, are open to the public.
- More city information can be found at http://www.mariettaoh.net/
The mayor, who serves on the city board of health, said he was frustrated that nothing could be done to get the property in Friend's neighborhood cleaned up.
Councilman Roger Kalter, D-1st Ward, said junk cars and other property eyesores are becoming a problem because the city code has not kept pace with property laws being used elsewhere.
"We discovered the city is still going by the 1998 International Property Management Code," he said, noting that a new version of that code is now available and should be adopted by Marietta.
But city law director Paul Bertram III said updating the code would not be enough.
"The ordinance governing nuisance properties has no teeth," he said, adding that penalties have to be included in order to enforce the code when violations occur and complaints are filed.
"Council makes the rules, but we cannot enforce them," noted Councilman Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward.
During last week's committee meeting Wayne Rinehart, the city's code administrator, noted city council would have to adopt the 2012 International Property Management Code before it could be used to regulate nuisance properties within the city limits.
In other business Thursday, council approved allocations from the city street maintenance and repair fund; water revenue fund; sanitary sewer fund; fire department levy fund and the capital improvement fund totaling $716,073 as reimbursement for services paid out of the city general fund through the end of this year.
Vukovic said that money would cover the second, third and fourth quarters allocations to the general fund for 2012.
An additional $237,314 had already been allocated from those funds to cover the first quarter of this year, bringing the total general fund reimbursement to $953,387.
Vukovic explained that general fund money is used at various times throughout the year to support the other accounts, so the reimbursement allocations from those funds are necessary to maintain a healthy general fund.