Truro Township trustees have approved a resolution that they hope will make it easier for them to deal with dilapidated properties.

Truro Township trustees have approved a resolution that they hope will make it easier for them to deal with dilapidated properties.

"It gives the township the framework to go after properties that are nuisances or deteriorated, and it's a process to work with the property owners to clean the mess up. Before, we couldn't do that," township administrator Bob Stapleton said.

According to a statement on the township website, the new policies "provide procedures for addressing nuisances such as poorly maintained buildings, noxious weeds, garbage and objects located on or along township roads.

"The procedures generally provide for an initial inspection of the property conducted by a township employee, including the fire inspector, followed by a hearing at which the trustees determine whether a nuisance or violation of the policy or the Ohio Revised Code exists. Property owners and lien-holders are then notified of the trustees' determination, and they are generally given an opportunity to remedy the situation themselves. If the nuisances is not abated or removed within a certain period of time, the trustees provide for the abatement or removal at the property owner's expense."

Stapleton said the township has needed more authority to enforce removal of such eyesores as junk vehicles or debris on properties. He said the Ohio Revised Code recently added new language providing townships with more options.

"We'd been having difficulties for a long, long time in areas with people parking semis in their side yard, and finally, the Ohio Revised Code was changed," Stapleton said. "We could do something about noxious weeds, but we couldn't do anything about junked vehicles."

He said the slumping housing market created a need for ORC changes. With the rise in the number of foreclosures, houses often are abandoned and begin to deteriorate with the owner nowhere to be found, Stapleton said.

"A lot of times, somebody will abandon a home and the bank sits there holding it, and sometimes you have to take them to court to get something done," he said.

Trustee Barb Strussion said overall, the new resolution gives Truro Tonwship's road superintendent and fire prevention people more "teeth" to deal with grounds and buildings that are in bad condition.

Road superintendent Stan Knoderer said his role is to inspect the exterior of grounds in the rights of way to make sure they are in compliance.

"My role is to oversee the compliance of nuisances such as noxious weeds, trash, debris, unsightly items, junked cars, those kinds of things," he said. "The new resolution broadens the definition of nuisances that are otherwise sometimes narrowly defined by other state statutes."

In other words, he said it gives townships more authority when a group of people, or an entire neighborhood, are affected by a threat to health, safety, peace, comfort or convenience, or are annoyed by a situation.

"Now there will be a judicial process involved whereby the board of trustees will serve as a panel giving a negligent homeowner the chance to explain their case but also to implement remedies that they must follow," Knoderer said.

Fire Lt. Mike Shirey said one of his jobs is to inspect structures for any compliance violations. He said the new resolution permits trustees to address problems with buildings that have been declared insecure, unsafe or structurally defective.

"They're trying to take care of a building before it becomes a hazard or somebody gets hurt in it, including firefighters," Shirey said.

"I am to document what is going on, then find out who the owner is, then send a certified letter to them of the condition and what we want done," he said. "At that point, the owner could ask for a meeting and they'll come in and explain what their game plan is with the building and the trustees will determine what, if anything, they need to do."