BRIDGEPORT — Pease Township administrators are encouraging residents to clean up their neglected properties or the township will do it for them, leaving the homeowner with the bill.
Township administrator Mike Bianconi said he and his fellow administrators are working to improve the township one property at a time.
The township has sent letters to property owners whose properties are neglected, whether it’s tall grass, dilapidated structures or litter on the property.
Over the past few years they’ve worked with a dozen owners to get things cleaned up – and most of them have complied.
“We are trying to clean up the town. We try to be nice and work with people, but they have to work with us. … Once we bring it to their attention, as long as they show progress, we are happy,” said Bianconi. “Our goal is to try to make properties look beautiful.”
Recently, the Belmont County Land Bank assisted in the demolition of three dilapidated properties across from Riesbeck.
And some owners have also demolished degraded buildings at the request of the municipality.
Although they prefer to work with owners, Bianconi said they can only wait so long before taking action.
This is exactly what happened to a property on the National Road on Monday. Township administrators along with BTR Environmental workers spent the day cleaning up trash, old furniture, electronics and other items from the rental property, and they will continue to do so throughout the week.
The owner refused to clean up the blight despite numerous letters and requests from the township, according to the trustees.
Bianconi said he had warned the landlord and tenant since May that if they did not comply with orders to remove the rubbish and put the mess away, the trustees would do it themselves, which would lead to the establishment of a a tax lien on the property to reimburse the municipality for the cleaning costs.
Ohio’s revised code, sections 505.87 and 505.871, allow townships to take action if a property owner fails to comply with a cleanup order and then assess the costs of the cleanup as a tax lien on the property.
Neither the landlord nor the tenant were home at the time of the cleanup, but trustees said they were aware of the situation.
Pease Township Police Chief Darby Copeland said officers prefer to work with landlords to resolve these issues, but the township will take action if the landlord is unwilling to do so.
Bianconi said it was the first time they had hired a company to clean a property. He said they would prefer not to have to, but felt the need due to the deteriorating condition of the property, which was filled with a range of items.
Bianconi challenges residents to fight for a more beautiful community. He urges residents to keep their grass clipped and remove litter and trash from their properties.
“I challenge them to make their property exceptional. …I’m not saying do it overnight, but make it a goal,” he said.
Officials are monitoring other properties throughout the township, he said, in hopes of continuing efforts to clean up the scourge.