By DENISE GRANT
A Findlay man who claims he’s losing business because the City of Findlay continues to deny him building permits lost his second appeal Thursday to the Findlay Board of Zoning Appeals.
George Martens of Findlay is challenging nuisance property complaints made by the city in November and December 2016.
The appeals board voted 3-0 Thursday to uphold those complaints, and found the city’s zoning administrator acted within his authority. Voting Thursday were board Chairman Phil Rooney, Vice Chairman Doug Warren, and Kerry Trombly, board member. Board members are appointed by the mayor.
The zoning appeals board’s first hearing of Martens’ case was held on March 9, 2017, when it also found in favor of the city.
Martens appealed the board’s decision to Hancock County Common Pleas Court. In a decision issued June 27, 2017, Judge Jonathan Starn vacated the zoning appeals board’s original vote, and returned the case to the board for a further hearing.
In his decision, Starn said Martens was denied the ability to present evidence and arguments at a 2017 hearing regarding whether Todd Richard, zoning administrator, properly enforced the code in issuing the nuisance complaints.
Martens spoke for nearly two hours on Thursday. However, he was repeatedly corrected, chided and harassed by board members who kept telling him “to get to the point.” Martens was often combative with the board and struggled with his paperwork.
The nuisance property complaints resulted in two nuisance charges being filed against Martens and his wife, Thelma, in Findlay Municipal Court in January 2017. The charges are considered fourth-degree misdemeanors.
Because of the property complaints, Martens said he has been denied more than 10 permits from the city’s zoning office, without the right of appeal, since 2016. The Martens own several rental properties in Findlay.
Richard said Findlay’s zoning code allows for the denial of any further permits or appeals, because Martens is no longer “in good standing” with the city.
“My business is essentially closed down. I can only do repairs essentially that do not require permits. I can’t add a room onto a house to flip it or rent it. I can’t change a roof line or add a wood deck, even to one of my rentals,” Martens told The Courier.
As part of the nuisance property complaints, the Martens were ordered to clean up debris left in the yard of their rental property at 2210 Beecher St., which included the open storage of building materials, windows, a tire, toilet and bed springs.
On Thursday, Martens said the tire and other junk were removed from the property in an effort to comply with the order, but he said the remaining building material was part of “active construction” to the house and did not present a public nuisance. The city’s zoning code does make exceptions for construction sites, where building material is openly stored short term.
Martens also argued that the building material belonged to his tenant, not him.
However, Rooney said owners are responsible for the upkeep of their property and the material has been left piled in the driveway for months.