Northwest News

Assistant city attorney meets with NWCA trustees

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

The Columbus assistant city attorney assigned to the Northwest Side has a personal stake when it comes to problems arising in the neighborhood.

He lives in it.

William A. "Bill" Sperlazza, whose home is off Bethel Road, was appointed to the Zone 1 post about a year ago by City Attorney Richard C. Pfeiffer Jr. For the five years prior to that, Sperlazza was a municipal prosecutor.

Pfeiffer, according to the city attorney's website, launched the zone initiative in 2008.

"The program is designed to enhance communication between the City Attorney's Office, the Columbus Division of Police, Code Enforcement, the city departments of health and sanitation, neighborhood associations and other community organizations in order to aid in uplifting Columbus neighborhoods," the site states.

"A secondary goal of the project is to increase municipal court prosecutors' and municipal court judges' awareness of the effects of crimes on the quality of life in Columbus neighborhoods.

"Working closely with the Division of Police, Code Enforcement, Columbus Public Health, sanitation and community organizations, this unit focuses on the elimination of public nuisances that blight the city's neighborhoods.

"Whether it is abandoned and deteriorating houses, open dumping, street prostitution, boot joints, excessive noise or trash and debris, this unit seeks to eliminate these problems."

And that was why Sperlazza was on hand at last week's monthly meeting of the Northwest Civic Association Board of trustees, to introduce himself as the "go-to guy" for dealing with public nuisances in Zone 1, which encompasses police precincts 1, 6, 17 and 18.

"I love this neighborhood," he said. "It's a nice neighborhood."

And, the graduate of the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University indicated, it's his job to try to keep it that way.

"I like to think of myself and ourselves as problem-solvers," Sperlazza, 33, told the trustees. "I will sure try."

In addition to the items listed on the city attorney's website, Sperlazza specifically mentioned troublesome bars and carryouts as nuisances he can attempt to have addressed.

"We don't have a lot of bad ones on this end," he said.

Trustee Mark Krietemeyer noted he has tried to raise objections to the liquor license of one of the adult clubs on the Northwest Side.

Sperlazza said he and others are eagerly awaiting a court ruling regarding Club Escape on East Dublin-Granville Road.

City code limits adult entertainment venues to areas zoned for manufacturing, although those in operation before the law was changed can continue to operate.

In the case involving Club Escape, the City Board of Zoning Adjustment agreed with code enforcement personnel who said the place had obvious gone out of business for a time.

BZA members found that the owner allowed this "grandfather clause" to lapse when the former Dockside Dolls closed and before it reopened under a new name.

Sperlazza concluded his remarks by saying he would work closely with Officer David Morgan, the new community liaison for the Northwest Side, in dealing with troublesome liquor establishments and would respond as best he could to complaints about drug dealing, prostitution or other public nuisances.

"I will certainly try like heck to an answer for you," the assistant city attorney vowed.

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