City Council moves along legislation

By Jennifer Woods -

During the Washington Court House City Council meeting on Wednesday, one ordinance and one resolution were placed on their following reading.

A resolution that would authorize City Manager Joe Denen to enter into an agreement with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) director to rebid a resurfacing project on US 35 was placed on its first reading. Denen explained this project would be done by ODOT but they requested the rebid in hopes of finding a more affordable offer.

Resolutions must pass two readings while ordinances must pass three to become law.

Ordinance number 4 was placed on its second reading. This ordinance would allow the city to abate a public nuisance at 924 East Temple St.

Essentially, a nuisance is caused within the city if a property is dangerous, in a state of disrepair, is uninhabitable, decreases local property value or decreases the enjoyment of life of surrounding neighbors. An abatement of nuisance is a way for the city to handle the situation.

Denen explained abating the nuisance could mean to “fix the property or tear down the property. It could simply mean it gives us a way to exert a bit more influence over the property owner to take care of the particular problems.”

Washington Court House Chief Building Official Rod Bryant said, “Unfortunately, everybody has a little bit of disrepair—that’s not what this is. This is advanced states of disrepair. Very advanced. We’re talking about structural, mechanical, plumbing, electrical, HVAC. These things are so degraded.”

According to Bryant, properties considered for abatement are inspected several times and the owners are then given the opportunity to repair the property. When disrepair reaches a certain point however, property owners could spend more to repair the property than the property would be worth financially.

Many of the homes in Washington C.H. that are a nuisance are abandoned properties, including those properties that were left empty following the closing of DHL a few years ago. Bryant said he often sees homes where elderly property owners moved in with family in another location.

The property on Temple Street the ordinance is for is currently vacant as the owners had to move elsewhere.

Bryant explained he never wants to force anyone to move, but one of his favorite memories from his job was condemning a certain home that was in such a state of disrepair that a bees’ nest was inside the home. The local who lived there was upset, but he helped her move into an affordable apartment.

After some time had passed, that local called him and invited him to her new apartment so she could share how happy she was to have a clean and safe environment.

“We just don’t want people living in squalor,” said Bryant.

Reach Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355. Woods | Record-Herald file photo

By Jennifer Woods