CALCUTTA-A recurrent host of nuisance properties have come before St. Clair Township Trustees as of late. This familiar list of properties once again dominated Tuesday's meeting.
Of the six properties trustees routinely deal with, one was taken off the township's list of nuisance properties because the owner complied with requests to clean up the property.
Getting property owners to clean up their properties is not a simple or short process, according to trustees. The townships involvement in cleaning up a nuisance property entails a lengthy list of case development procedures and other steps, some of which include documenting the nuisance, sending the owners multiple rounds of certified mail, tracking down the owners and talking with banks, just to name a few.
Trustees say it is particularly frustrating when they go through the process of having a property cleaned up only to see it become a nuisance once again. One property at 16104 State Route 267 has gone from being a nuisance to cleaned up and back to a nuisance again, because someone continues to fill the property with new junk. Trustees say they plan to meet with assistant county prosecutor Andy Beech to see what legal steps can be taken to have the property cleaned up.
"This continues to be a problem -They clean it up and then continued junking it up," said Trustee James Sabatini II.
Other properties are works in progress, with property owners or township contracted construction companies working to clean up or demolish them. In the latter case the township often absorbs the cost of cleaning up a nuisance property. Trustees offset that cost when they are able by placing a lien on the property for the cost of clean up, or by assessing the cost to the owner's property taxes.
Some properties await assessments by entities such as the county health department or the township fire department. In many cases, property being deemed a health hazard or condemned can help trustees expedite the property being razed.
Occasionally trustees are able to take nuisance properties off their list. This was the case for 15309 Straiter Road, where property owners cleaned up the property themselves. Trustees voted to remove the property from the list of nuisance properties.
In many cases, after exhausting all of their options, trustees turn properties over to the county prosecutor's office to build a case for legal action. Trustees said the owner of a nuisance at 16590 Cornell Street has been summoned to hearing by the health department. If the owner does not attend, the case will automatically be turned over to county prosecutor.
"When half our meeting is taken up by six properties out of 2300-some-odd-households (in the township) it's ridiculous," said Trustee Robert Swickard.