Code Enforcement an Issue Throughout Wilmington

Recently, a local rental property was featured in a story on WKRC in Cincinnati (click here to read). Some of the article came to no surprise to many in Wilmington. Those who live in and have been around the city, even on some of the main streets, have certainly noticed the deterioration of many local rental properties. One issue that struck me was the lack of enforcment. If WKRC could talk to the landlord, then why couldn’t the city get him to show up for court? I decided to further investigate John Blake (the landlord mentioned in the story) and a few other local landlords and their properties in Wilmington. Here is what I found, and how I think the city can improve their code enforcement in the future…

The problem…

John Blake and his wife Sarah Hapner are listed as the owner of several properties besides the one discussed in the article. Here are a few pictures of those properties

This is the house in question from the WKRC story on Grant Street
This is the house in question from the WKRC story on Grant Street
Charles Street rental home
Charles Street rental home
Locust and Spring St.
Locust and Spring St.
Locust and Spring St.
Locust and Spring St.

As you can see, these properties are an eyesore. Not only that, they violate several pieces of building code in the Wilmington Municipal Code, including (emphasis mine):

  • 1709.03   (b)   Protective Treatment.  All exterior surfaces, including but not limited to, doors, door and window frames, cornices, porches and trim, shall be maintained in good condition. Exterior wood surfaces, other than decay-resistant woods, shall be protected from the elements and decay by painting or other protective covering or treatment. Peeling, flaking and chipped paint shall be eliminated and surfaces repainted. All siding and masonry joints as well as those between the building envelope and the perimeter of windows, doors, and skylights shall be maintained weather resistant and water tight.
  • 1709.03    (f)   Exterior Walls.  All exterior walls shall be free from holes, breaks, loose or rotting materials; and maintained weatherproof and properly surface coated where required to prevent deterioration.

Unfortunately, these are not the only rental properties that are suffering due to a lack of code enforcement. There are two more examples that I have noticed (as have many Wilmington residents). The first two pictures are from one property on Wood St., and actually belongs to Kathryn Hapner. She is a former Wilmington Law Director and sister of Sarah Hapner, mentioned above. The second property shown is owned by Renaissance Men Properties, which is listed as an LLC with Alan Ledford and Grant Peelle as principals.

DSC_0447  DSC_0445DSC_0477DSC_0476

Again, we see many code violations in both places. Ms. Hapner was law director and is still a practicing lawyer, so one would assume that she is aware of the law. In the second case, which is an unrepaired roof after a fire, we can see the signs of negligent property owners dragging their feet, which have allowed parts of the building to end up almost on the Luther Warren Peace Path. This was not a recent fire by any standards and has a negative effect on the aesthetics of the trail.

I pursued this story because it is an important issue for Wilmington to consider. We should be sad to see our city on regional news for a lack of code enforcement by the city, and it is clear that Mr. Blake is not the only one. We have many local landlords that do not keep their buildings up to code, and this is something we must address as a community.

What can be done?

At the last City Council Judicial Committee meeting, Wilmington City Service and Safety Director Brian Shidaker said that there is no money allocated in the budget for code enforcement. Therefore, the only time issues like this are investigated is through a citizen’s complaint, and then only by the police department. This process often causes the ire of city residents, as they feel frustrated when their pleas for enforcement go unresolved. In the case mentioned at the beginning of this post, that led to a resident going to a Cincinnati news organization for answers.

There can be a solution, but it will have to involve city and county government working together. It is undeniable that blighted properties could lead to potential property tax losses for the county. If we continue down a road of allowing owners to not care for properties, it will likely become more difficult for homeowners to find potential customers, thus leading to a drop in prices. Additionally, many of these homes pose a health and safety risk to residents. Broken windows leading to unstable home temperatures and allowing weather in, mold, poor bathroom conditions, and issues with parts of buildings or retention walls coming on to public property could present real health and safety issues.

So, I believe that the county needs to step in and use some of the money from the sale of Clinton Memorial Hospital to work with the City of Wilmington (and other municipalities in the county, if necessary) to enforce building codes. Much of the money is earmarked for health and safety, which safe and sanitary living conditions falls under. Additionally, as I pointed out, Clinton County has a vested financial interest in keeping our neighborhoods clean, safe, and attractive for potential homebuyers. This is something we, as a community, should get behind in order to improve the quality of life for everyone.

13 thoughts on “Code Enforcement an Issue Throughout Wilmington

  1. I spoke with the mayor a year ago about Fred Haught apartments by the park. we have a open staircase to no where and it is right by the park still nothing has been done

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  2. They need to check 357 charles street! That house is unsafe I spoke with a time Warner guy that literally couldn’t get out fast enough, and the frontier people won’t even go in, they stand outside and talk through the window! It is another one of Mr Blake’s homes

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  3. I love in a house that my roof is leaking real bad my landlord know this 1 year ago when I moved in and he said when it got warm he would fix it that was March of 2015 now every time I pay my rent I mention to him that the roof is getting worse and he just says ok I’ll have someone fix it. But still nothing my cloths get wet my funiture gets wet I have hard wood floors that are getting wet ceiling tiles falling down but still he want fix it.

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  4. I know in other cities there are fines attached to code violations. One violates the codes and is given a certain amount of time to correct it, then if not done, one has to pay the fine. Of course, then the question is, where does the fine go? So I’m thinking, if there is no money as Brian Shidaker has indicated (as the city always says there is, yet the city officials and workers seem to be raking in higher and higher salaries), then there is a fiscal hole here that needs to be investigated.

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  5. Those houses and apartments look like castles compared to the trashed neglected property behind me on A Street. Everyone else mostly keeps up their property but this place is falling down, windows broken out and yard and porches full of trash for years. I’ve complained to council multiple times and nothing!

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  6. There are homes on state route 73 just outside of Wilmington towards State route 380 several that need demolished they have been a abandoned,what’s the law on theses homes ?

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  7. I agree with re code enforcement but not with your logic in have one political subdivision subsidize another.

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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    1. I think there is discussion to be had (I will cover this in another blog) for how city and county services are split. The amount of property tax that the county gets from certain properties that the city spends a great deal of money on is interesting to me. It isn’t so much an issue of subsidizing, but making sure that revenue and services are more even.

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  8. If you have a blighted property in your neighborhood, contact the mayors office with the address. I will go look at it. John Stanforth

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  9. Mayor Stanforth, every road leading in and out of downtown passes properties like this. First impressions mean alot and Wilmington is letting bad landlords speak for us!

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  10. I used to live in that house on the corner on wood street. There is chipping lead paint Inside the house which caused my three year old daughter to have lead poisining which she still has. This leads to permanent brain damage to an otherwise very healthy child. There is black mold every where consuming the whole ceiling and walls of the bathroom…the bathroom ceiling leaks when it rains. I was the one who took the initiative to call someone to fix the roof because it leaked everywhere and she denied the man to the do the roof. She just wanted to put a band aid on a gun shot wound just like all the other slum lords in this town. My daughter has a disease because of the negligence of a home owner. It’s pathetic and potentially life changing.

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  11. As a long time resident of Wilmington, a renter and home owner, I find this sad and pathetic situation appalling. To see a once thriving, beautiful little town deteriorate around us is so disheartening for those of us who work so hard to keep our homes beautiful! I’m all on board for enforcing codes and fines for landlords. However, I would like to add the fact that HOME OWNERS in many situations are also GUILTY of property neglect. And lets add the banks and financial institutions that ignore their foreclosed properties for years…There has to be a solution! Quit passing the buck and get city, county, state and federal governments to rally on this before it’s too late…there must be money and assistance out there!

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