By DENISE GRANT
Findlay’s Neighborhood Enhancement and Abatement Team, or N.E.A.T., retired in April along with its longtime director, 30-year city employee Rebecca Greeno.
Greeno worked with N.E.A.T. for 14 years.
Now, the city zoning office is taking over enforcement of the city’s rules on nuisances like abandoned vehicles, tall grass, trash, sidewalk nuisances, right of way issues, dilapidated structures, junk on premises, minor maintenance and similar issues, with an emphasis on “enforcement,” according to Todd Richard, zoning administrator.
“We’re out with zoning codes and inspections and we’re looking for junk vehicles, dilapidated buildings, outside storage of junk and materials and tall weeds,” Richard said. “The biggest difference is that we plan to prosecute violators. They’ll receive a warning, but if they don’t take care of it, we’re going to prosecute.”
N.E.A.T. didn’t prosecute, Richard said.
Findlay City Council recently passed legislation aimed at making it easier to enforce the city’s nuisance rules by setting a height limit on weeds of 6 inches, and making the definition of a junk vehicle clearer.
City code makes it unlawful to store a vehicle that is no longer fit for use on any outside lot in Findlay. The new rule defines a junk vehicle as meeting any one of the following criteria: without a valid registration or license plate; without fully inflated tires, or with any other type of support under it; substantially damaged or missing a windshield, door, motor, transmission or similar major part; incapable of moving under its own power; abandoned; or primarily being used for storage.
In 2017, N.E.A.T. reported working on 1,304 open cases in all. The program had closed 1,024 cases by October.
Violating the city’s nuisance laws is considered a minor criminal offense. Richard said court action, which includes fines, fees and court costs, plus the cleanup, can get expensive.
Richard said his office “is willing to work with people.”
“But most are just going to ignore the orders, and so we’re going to start prosecuting,” he said. “There are a lot of neighborhoods out there that are glad we’re moving and getting things accomplished. We’re hoping eventually that compliance will be voluntary and repeat offenders will be few.”
City residents with a nuisance complaint or who have questions about the rules can contact Richard by calling the zoning office at 419-424-7108.