Kettering approves code changes, adds nuisance abatement

Kettering city officials approved changes to the city’s property maintenance code that include adding a nuisance abatement to help eradicate suspected drug houses and other problem properties.

The city also announced its new communications information manager at the same meeting Tuesday night.

Council voted unanimously to make eight changes to the city’s maintenance code that are expected to give police other tools to combat issues such as prostitution and drug crimes that endanger the health and safety of the community.

The nuisance abatement was part of the amended updates and that was welcome news to resident Ellen Miller, who had been a voice for the added amendment.

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“I sent the mayor an email thanking him,” she said. “Dayton has had it for a while now, and it seems to have helped.”

Police Chief Chip Protsman had explained to council that there are times when the police department will do an investigation, make arrests and then take the suspects out of a property, whether it is a residence or a business.

He said the result can be that other people come in and continue the behavior, or that the arrested person returns to do the same thing.

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In July, Miller and other residents from Kingston Avenue approached council regarding concerns that their neighborhood had been overrun with illegal drug activity, and at the time, the residents were hoping that the city would enact a nuisance abatement program to help clean up the problem.

Wednesday afternoon, Miller said people she had spoke to were pleased that council heard their concerns and acted on them.

“It also seems like the police wanted it too,” she said. “It will give the police and the city a little bit more leeway to take care of things like drug houses and prostitution and the things you really don’t want in your neighborhood. The police did a good job of addressing our earlier concerns.”

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City Manager Mark Schwieterman told council on Tuesday night the amended ordinance will not be the answers to all of the concerns regarding blight in the city, but will go along way in combating the issue.

“As we have discussed with council over the last several months, we are essentially modifying and adding to the tools in the toolbox that we have for property maintenanc,” Schwieterman said.

One of the approved changes involves updating the definition of “blight” so it matches what is in the Ohio Revised Code definition. The new codes will help address the problem of boarded up properties when they are cited for violations.

Police with the approved nuisance abatement will be able to declare properties a nuisance if they discover and can document illegal activities taking place there. The orders will typically require a living or commercial space to be vacated for 365 days after being declared a nuisance.

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