Two Blacklick Estates residents approached Madison Township trustees at their October meeting with concerns about neighborhood blight.
Kim Jordan, a resident of Blacklick Estates, told the trustees and city staff Oct. 17 that she is concerned about the condition of her neighborhood, particularly the rental properties near and adjacent to her residence.
"We haven't even been able to cut our grass in places because of the limbs (coming off the neighbor's tree.) I've introduced myself to these people and offered to help, but they don't want it," Jordan said. "I've talked to the landlord, but this guy will not budge and I'm trying to do what I can for my neighbors. I just don't want anyone pointing fingers at me."
Township Administrator Susan Brobst said she and Road Superintendent Terry Spangler have both advised Jordan that the township has a process it must follow when taking action regarding private property.
"There's the tree behind the house in her neighbor's yard and a decrepit fence, but unfortunately, that's all on private property," Brobst said. "While we are aware of the issues -- the fact that the owner isn't taking care of the rental property -- our hands are tied because none of this is in the right of way."
The property owner has taken care of any code violations, she said.
Spangler said much of the problem is related to evictions.
"When one of my guys sees trash sitting on the curb from an eviction, we make a report with photographs and the landlord is contacted immediately," he said. "If they don't clean it up in a timely manner, the township ends up hiring Waste Management to come and pick it up, then we have to assess it on their taxes.
"But there's a process we have to go through, which does take some time," Spangler said.
Trustee Gary McDonald said generally, landlords react quickly to township requests.
"A few months ago, we addressed the issue of trash and Susan looked into if there was a way to make the process go quicker," McDonald said. "I've seen rental properties where everything was stuck out on the curb and once the landlord got a call from our office, he took care of it a few hours later that evening."
Resident Dennie Hembree, also of Blacklick Estates, said people not taking out their garbage weekly is a problem as well.
"I've got raccoons and there are houses not even taking out their trash," he said. "They don't have enough courtesy to put it in bins and it's disgusting. We also had a house down the street that the lady let her dogs live alone in for a year and a half. She'd just come to feed them. Can you imagine what that house is like now?
"If you start reaching into the property owners' pockets, then they'll start to care," Hembree added.
McDonald said officials will continue to be vigilant but it is also up to residents to report issues to the township or to the humane society, as is necessary.
"We've had other residents speak out about passing an ordinance about taking care of these properties," Hembree said. "I just thought I'd add my thoughts to it, too. It's too bad you can't get an ordinance on these rental property owners to take care of this. They don't care about the neighborhood, just about the dollar."
The next trustees' meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14, at the community center, 4575 Madison Lane.