Board approves condemnation order

Photo provided A photo from a condemned property at 342 Pence St. provided by Columbus Code Enforcement.

Columbus Board of Public Works has approved a condemnation order and a $7,500 fine for the owner of a house on the east side of Columbus that city officials said is in “deplorable condition.”

The residence, located at 342 Pence St., was described by city code enforcement officer Fred Barnett as “one of the worse houses I’ve seen in Columbus on the inside,” with “everything from animal feces to garbage,” as well as holes in the roof and floors.

The condemnation order states that the house is unfit for human habitation and requires the owner to clean up and repair the property, Barnett said. The fine was issued due to “non-compliance with existing code violations” that date back to 2021.

“It’s in deplorable condition. Deplorable. One of the worst I’ve ever seen,” Barnett said.

City officials said their attention was drawn to the house after receiving a complaint from a neighbor with small children who reported that the home had been vacant for around two years and was attracting mice, rats and snakes to the area.

After receiving the complaint, city officials went to the property and took some photos of the exterior and concluded that it did not appear that anyone was residing in the home, code enforcement officer Erika Smith said.

After city officials requested to perform an inspection of the home, a handwritten note was placed on the front door that said, “KEEP OUT!! You don’t have my permission to enter. GO AWAY,” according to an image taken by code enforcement.

The property owner claimed the note was written by a person who was living in the home, city officials said. Code enforcement officials said they were able to track down and speak with the alleged tenant who said they had not been inside the home since June 2021 and stopped paying rent in February 2022.

The owner later had a change of heart and allowed city officials to inspect the home, which was completed on May 17 by Smith, who said she found “fecal matter” that had been in the home since at least October 2021 when Columbus Animal Care was dispatched to remove animals.

The property owner is listed as Brad Grayson, according to code enforcement.

Property owners have the right to appeal the condemnation order and fine within five days of being notified of the action taken by the city.

Barnett said his office has received an email from one of the owners who said he plans to appeal the decision, though he had not formally submitted the appeal as of mid-afternoon Friday.