BATH TOWNSHIP – A group of township residents appeared before the Bath Township Board of Trustees during the July 18 township meeting to voice their concerns about a neighboring nuisance property.
The residents asked the trustees to do more about the ongoing issues at the vacant property, located at 4953 Bath Road. Their complaints included noxious weeds and high grass, overgrown bushes, fallen trees, pungent odors, animal infestations and the dilapidated condition of the unoccupied house.
Gary Snyder, who lives on the 4900 block of Bath Road said, “My two neighbors have seen a light in different areas of the house from time to time, and I saw a light in there in April. I am also concerned about the potential fire hazard if the animals chew into the electric wiring in the house. This rundown property affects our property values too.”
Township Zoning Inspector Jim Miller explained that the homeowner, who lives in Washington D.C., finances the property with Wright-Patt Credit Union and continues to make regular mortgage payments to the credit union.
“While the homeowner is in violation of the terms of the mortgage, the mortgage company continues to receive his money. Therefore, they’re not going to do anything,” Miller said. “He pays his taxes on time, so there are no tax liens on his property as well.”
Miller noted that the township held a nuisance hearing regarding the property in 2016. The township notified the property owner and the lien holder, who were given 20 days to submit a written request for a hearing, but no request was made. The township took action to secure the structure and clean up the nuisance vegetation. The bill was then sent to the county auditor who placed a special assessment on the homeowner’s property tax bill.
“We were authorized to board up the home. However, I had been in contact with the mortgage company, and they sent out a crew to the property. They actually entered the home and took a multitude of pictures of the condition of the home. I have those pictures stored on my computer,” said Miller. “They also secured the house, so we didn’t have to secure it.”
Miller also told the residents that the Greene County Department of Building Regulations had examined the exterior of the house and deemed it structurally secured. Miller said he had made multiple visits to the property during the past three years and found the exterior to be a solid structure as well. However, he was able to remove four junk vehicles that had been stored on the property for many years.
“There may have been squatters in there at one time, but there is no evidence of that now,” Miller said. “The interior of the house is falling down, but the exterior of the house still stands.”
Melvin Younger, who lives on the 4900 block of Bath Road, said he questioned if the property is actually secured and expressed his concerns about the potential health risk from feral animals who have taken up residency in the house and on the property.
“There are holes in the soffit where raccoons go in and out at will. We have a health issue because the house is filled with rodents,” Younger said. “My neighbor, whose property borders the west side of the vacant house, has trapped 17 raccoons. Why doesn’t the health department get involved?”
Miller explained that the Greene County Health Department was aware of the health-related issues at the property and had posted notices of the health violations on the exterior of the house.
“The health department has a process to follow and started that process years ago, but they are at a dead end much like us,” said Miller. “The homeowner lives out of state and does not respond to the notices. He cannot be cited in court because the zoning and health violations are misdemeanors.”
Township Trustee Tom Pitstick suggested that the township contract a mowing business to cut the weeds and grass at the Bath Road property, and Trustee John Martin concurred. However, Miller pointed out that the township’s general fund would not be reimbursed for those expenditures if the township contracted out the job.
Miller told the concerned residents that he would explore the process for removing a tree off the roof of the house. He also recommended that the residents contact the county health and sheriff’s departments about any additional action they could possibly take. Ross said the township would also start the process of mowing the noxious weeds and tall grass.
Linda Collins is a freelance writer for Greene County News.