Kettering considers nuisance abatement law for problem properties

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

City Manager Mark Schwieterman told council recently that the issue has been worked on for several months.

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

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“We have clarified the section on boarded structures, to avoid any confusion that a structure being boarded would be in compliance, and that is not the case.” he said. “That is simply the minimum standard and they (property owner) still have to make full repairs and corrections to the property.”

The city will also remove high-risk trees if an owner does not take care of the problem in a timely manner.

But the issue of dealing with nuisance properties is something the city now wants to put a priority on.

The proposed addition to the city code would give police another tool to combat issues such as prostitution and drug crimes that endanger the health and safety of the community, Police Chief Chip Protsman said.

“There are times when the police department will do an investigation, we will make arrests and take those individuals out of a property, whether it is a residence or a business, charge them and then take them away,” he told council. “Two things sometimes happen. Other individuals come in and the same behavior continues, or the individuals who we arrested are back in a short period of time doing the same thing. This causes quite a disturbance for the neighborhood they’re in.”

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With the new ordinance in place, if approved, Protsman said it will give police the ability to show a property is a nuisance and then shut it down.

Police 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.

“Some of the issues we see have to do with landlords, and 98% of the landlords in this community are terrific, and when we call them and need assistance with the people they are renting to, they take care of the problem,” Protsman said.

For some landlords who live out-of-town and others who are local but don’t heed the warnings from police regarding illegal activity going on in their property, Protsman said the nuisance abatement ordinance will allow for law enforcement to pull people out of their properties and cause a loss of income.

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Dayton for years has used a nuisance abatement ordinance to shutter suspected drug houses, brothels and illegal liquor and gambling joints.

In more recent times, Fairborn, Riverside and Trotwood have also have had success in implementing the program. Fairborn recently launched its own program, modeled after Dayton’s, to fight back against crime, and Riverside officials said the city likely will use abatement actions more in the future.

Kettering city officials didn’t announce a date to vote on the proposed nuisance abatement and maintenance code changes.

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