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One House At a Time
September 5, 2008 - Joe Gorman
A hearing will be held next week in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court to decide if a South Side home that is boarded up should be declared a nuisance and vacated for a year because of chronic drug activity.
It is the fourth such request since 2006 to declare a home a nuisance and the third on the South Side. Earlier this year, a 37 N. Hine St. home on the East Side police dubbed the ``Chicken Shack' (although no one can tell me why. After all there is a big difference between crack and poultry) was declared a nuisance.
Additionally, the home at 542 W. Glenaven Ave. is up the street from another West Glenaven Avenue home that was declared a nuisance for the same reason in the winter of 2006.
A couple officers I spoke to this week said the city should be filing these requests once a week. After a ride along I went along earlier this year with the Weed & Seed in Brier Hill and other parts of the North Side, the officers I was with were pointing to a house or two on what seemed like every block and calling them ``dope houses.' There were enough in just that one part of town that a single attorney could have been assigned to handle the paperwork.
They explained to me there are some homes where drugs are sold and others where they are used but normally the two are not mixed in the same home.
Legally, the rights of the property owner have to be respected, which is why you have to show a pattern of activity, which is why there is so much paperwork involved, which makes the process time consuming.
But if you close the homes, where do the drug dealers and users go? There is no dearth of vacant homes in the city for them to ply their trade, and some of the homes that are being used are in fact not vacant.
I do know one thing. Once the activity starts, the neighborhood will have a tough time recovering. The area is branded and those who can will flee. Those who can't either fight a frustrating battle against the drug dealers or don't have the means to keep up their properties -- which leads to more blight.
Clean up the city one house at a time? Sounds great. Also sounds utopian, too.
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