About five years after the property was first put in foreclosure, and a few months after the township initially issued documents to the property owner to renovate it, the council approved a resolution Wednesday to begin remedies on the house at .
"We have worked with the neighbors trying to bring this to a resolution through the enforcement of the municipal court," said township administrator James Naples. "We have been unsuccessful in getting the owner to comply."
"This action will be taken through ordinance, to have the township clean up the property, and have it be charged to the property owner," he added.
The property is owned by Kevin Miller, but it has been abandoned, and he is in violation of township codes concerning outdoor storage of non-outdoor furniture, construction material and other items. Miller has failed to remove items from the property despite being ordered to by the township.
According to Michael Camerino, deputy township attorney, the property owner was first given notice about the need for remedy in March, with a second notice in April.
"But nothing was done to fix the property," he said. "The property was posted with a notice of lien on July 5."
The notice of lien includes the work authorized by the council, namely removing a boat and trailer from the property; removing forklift and trailer; properly disposing of all external debris piles; and taking care of debris piles that consist of wood waste, construction material and more.
That work, plus the legal fees, total $10,200.
These costs will be required to be paid back by the owner.
Camerino said the taxes are current on the property, with the only outstanding payment being a sewer charge.
"Adequate and proper notice has been given and posted," he said. "[The house] constitutes a blight, is unsafe and there are unhealthy conditions. The township code official should proceed to oversee the removal of trash on the property."
According to Camerino, Miller has appeared in municipal court in the past, but has not complied with orders to clean the property.
Steve Rodzinak, township code enforcement superintendent, said Miller appeared in court and asked for 14 days to move forward with the cleanup, but he did not show up for his next appearance. An arrest warrant was put out for him, and someone else posted his bail.
"This has been going on for over a year," Rodzinak said.
Camerino said the township will work on the cleanup, and will probably move to demolish the building.
"There is nothing of equity from this vacant lot," he said. "This property is abandoned."
Residents living nearby said the property has been a blight on the community.
"It has been a shame for years, just walking around," said Regina Wellman, of Stella Drive. "You can see the collection of a boat, old collectibles."
Wellman said there have been a lot of materials just sitting on the property, although some has disappeared over the years.
"I live down the street from the property, and it devaluates the properties in the area," she said. "It is dangerous."
But it is not just the property at 24 Claire Drive—right next door, Wellman said, is another piece of land that needs cleaning as well.
At 22 Claire Drive, Wellman said, is a home owned by Miller's uncle, and which is not being maintained either.
"There are posts hanging down," she said. "But that one is not being discussed now."
Naples said that property is not as dilapidated as the one owned by Kevin Miller, but that steps are being taken concerning property maintenance. He said it is in disrepair, but is not currently abandoned, and the township is moving forward with it.
Township engineer Robert Bogart said the owner of that property, an older gentleman, was in municipal court concerning the cleanup of his house.
"We are in the process of property maintenance for that house," Naples said. "It is in disrepair, but the man lives there. We may come back to the council with it."