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Published: Wednesday, 7/15/2009

Local areas avoid glut of nuisance properties

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Unmowed grass, tall weeds, and other nuisance situations have cropped up in neighborhoods nationwide because of foreclosures and other homeowner woes, but officials in many local communities say they have not seen a huge spike in such problem properties.

Rossford, for example, has a half dozen properties somewhere in the foreclosure process, a couple more than normal. Genoa has more than usual too, but the number remains in the single digits.

"We're really starting to see an increase, but I'm not expecting it to be a real large increase," Garth Reynolds, Genoa village administrator, said.

He added: "We've had a couple that have been very problematic, and we're working that out."

Foreclosed properties in Oregon have increased too but few have become nuisances. The biggest problem is determining who is responsible for them, Jim Gilmore, Oregon's building and zoning commissioner, said.

Richard Drouard, Rossford zoning inspector, said the city has not experienced a lot of nuisance properties. When they happen, however, finding who is responsible can be troublesome, he said.

"It takes some time, and it takes a little patience," Mr. Drouard said.

It can take weeks for a nuisance property to be dealt with, Mr. Drouard said. A new twist for Rossford has been homeowner bankruptcies, he said.

"I've never had to deal with a bankruptcy situation in our community," he said.

Genoa sends certified letters to owners and/or renters of nuisance properties, and if there is not response within 10 days, then village staff cuts the grass for $75 an hour, Mr. Reynolds said. Neighbors usually alert officials if a house is not being property maintained, he said.

"It doesn't take long," Mr. Reynolds said.

Northwood, meanwhile, is among local communities that have experienced an increase in foreclosed properties.

In Pemberville, officials have taken a hard line against any nuisance properties. If the grass gets too tall in a yard, a notice is posted giving the owner five days to take care of it, Eric Campbell, Pemberville village councilman, said.

And if a lawn needs to be mowed after notice is given, owners are charged $130 an hour, he said.

"We're not nice about it, I'll put it that way," Mr. Campbell said. "You have to think of the many, not the few."



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