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New Franklin demolishes vacant home

12/12/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

The demolition of 705 Highland Park Drive on Dec. 2 is shown above.

The inside of the house on 705 Highland Park Drive, shown above, was “deplorable,” according to New Franklin officials, and the house was condemned for numerous health and building code violations.
Photos courtesy of the city of New Franklin
NEW FRANKLIN — New Franklin officials and neighbors celebrated the demolition of a home on Highland Park Drive recently after a long effort to get it cleaned up.

The home, located at 705 Highland Park Drive, was demolished Dec. 2, with residents in the area cheering the crew on. The demolition was not part of the Moving Ohio Forward program because the homeowner did not agree to the demolition, according to city officials.

The cost to demolish the home included an estimated $5,800 to remove items from the inside and an estimated $6,900 for its demolition, according to legislation approved by City Council Nov. 9 for its demolition.

“The city will assess the costs of the demolition and put them against the property,” said Law Director Tom Musarra. “If those assessments become delinquent, the city can ask the county to foreclose under our land reutilization program. If it goes to sheriff’s sale twice and no one buys it, ownership of the property reverts to the city. If someone buys it, the city would receive its money.”

The effort to demolish the home involved taking the property owners to court, according to Musarra. The original owner, John Kline, moved to Cuyahoga County years ago and very recently transferred ownership of the 56-year-old three-bedroom home to his daughter, who is a resident of New Franklin, he added.

“I took action because of the continual complaints [on its condition] from neighbors,” Musarra explained. “We secured a court order to demolish and clean up the property.”

Musarra said court action involved filing a lawsuit over the numerous violations to the city’s zoning code. He added Summit County Public Health, which was the only entity able to enter the home and inspect the inside, had found it to have numerous health code violations, and the Summit County Building Department had condemned the property.

Musarra explained court action required some work.

“It is difficult to succeed in asking a judge to order a home to be taken down,” he said. “Judges give property owners every opportunity to remedy the situation. This finally succeeded because the owners never responded to the lawsuit or appeared in court. We had a hearing before Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Alison McCarty and presented evidence on why this home should be demolished. We used testimony from a neighbor and Summit County Public Health. The judge granted our request.”

New Franklin Zoning Administrator Barry Ganoe stated the Highland Park Drive home had been vacant for at least 10 years and was in bad shape.

“It was one of the worst cases we have seen,” he said. “The house was beyond reasonable repair, and it did pose a health and safety hazard to the surrounding neighborhood.”

Ganoe explained a large trash receptacle was needed to haul away items while cleaning the inside of the home prior to its demolition. The items included food packages dating back to 1996, and there were “incredible hoarder conditions” and mold, he said. In addition, the basement was filled with 20 inches of water, and ceilings and walls inside were collapsing. The city also has had to mow the property for several years.

Ganoe said property owners failed to respond to the notices of violations and repeated requests to clean up the property and bring it into compliance with the violations.

Musarra noted the city’s zoning code was recently amended to include violations of Summit County Public Health in order to better deal with cases similar to this that may arise in the future.

The homeowner could not be reached for comment by presstime.

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