We have an unprecedented situation here at Inquirer Central. We've received complaints about two properties, side by side. This could only be better if they were complaining about each other, but since no one lives at either address, that's not likely.
First, a Concerned Reader called on behalf of a woman who lives on Patton Drive in City View Heights in south Columbus. The lot next to hers is a mess.
"The lot at 32 Patton Drive is overgrown almost all the way out to the street," the man said. "We've caught possums, raccoons and snakes in her yard. We need somebody to do something about it. We've called the city at least three times and nothing's been done."
Then I get an email complaining about a vacant house next to the vacant lot. It, too, is a mess.
"There's a house up the hill from me at 28 Patton Drive that needs to be torn down before it falls down on someone's head," wrote another Anonymous Yet Concerned Reader. "Ask that lady with the city to come over and spray a red D on that place."
By "that lady," I will assume he's referring to Rebecca Wiggins, city building inspector. And I will give her a call, but first, I rode out to the neighborhood to confirm the reports.
The vacant lot looks like a patch of ill-kept urban forest. I can see how it might foster a possum or two.
Problem is, as we learned recently in the case of the Eastbrook Lane couple with the encroaching jungle next door, the city is limited in what they can force private property owners to do.
As City Attorney Clifton Fay said last week, you can always sue them (the owners, not the possums) if they're creating a civil nuisance.
But next door is another story. At 28 Patton, the little red brick house has weeds grown up waist high and higher. The roof is sagging between the joists. Parts of the facia are missing and some windows are broken. And I'd be willing to bet you'd find more copper in your penny jar than you'd find in that house. Sad thing is, it looks like it was once a decent little brick house.
Wiggins was away from her office when I got in touch, so she couldn't check her records. But she said the property sounds like one already scheduled for demolition. But I couldn't find it on recent lists, I told her, and it doesn't have the red D.
She said they try to put the D on a condemned house just before the deed is done so as not to alert ne'er-do-wells. And if the house isn't already on the demolition list, she said she'd get it on one soon, if it qualifies.
So the wreck of a house will soon meet the wrecking ball. But that will just leave another vacant lot to become another urban forest and possum farm.
It's the Great Recession's sad version of the circle of life.
Pat Biegler, city director of public services, is a woman of her word.
Last week, on behalf of Concerned Reader Marion Harris, I called Biegler about a stretch of sidewalk on Primrose Road near Gentian Elementary School that was suffering from a bad case of overgrowth from the forest it runs beside.
Because the city owns the forest and the sidewalk, and because school is going to open soon, filling the sidewalk with neighborhood children, Biegler said she'd get a crew on it.
And she did.
A crew of city landscape engineers, in sporty striped trousers, made quick work of the offending brush.
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