City authorizes legal action on three properties

City officials are pursuing court action regarding three homes that local officials describe as “junkyard” environments.

The Columbus Board of Works voted Tuesday to authorize code enforcement to take legal action against the owners of 1521 Indiana Ave., 1019 Central Ave. and 1009 Central Ave.

Code enforcement officer Fred Barnett said that John Weidman, the owner of both Central Avenue addresses, has “created a junkyard environment in a residential area” on the two properties.

The same issues are present at the Indiana Avenue property, which Weidman purchased on contract from George Winget, Barnett said. Winget is also involved in the proceedings because he is still legally listed as the owner.

Pictures provided by code enforcement show that a number of vehicles were present on the three sites, as of October. The pictures also show a variety of items that were stored outdoors.

According to a July 12 letter from code enforcement, there have also been problems at the Indiana Avenue home in regards to building safety and minimum housing standards.

Barnett has been working with Weidman for several years to get the properties cleaned up, he said. He previously gave him a deadline of Aug. 31 and later set the end of November as the final deadline before he would pursue legal action.

“He has done work on it, but it hasn’t been enough,” Barnett said.

He is requesting a fine of $2,500, plus legal fees, assuming the matter goes to court. If the properties were to be cleaned up before the issue goes to court, the city would probably drop the case, he said. However, if the city has to take care of the clean-up, then damages would likely include the costs of this work as well.

Board member John Pickett asked if $2,500 is still the maximum fine the city can levy in this kind of situation, and Barnett replied that it is.

“But the state would allow us to go higher, right, if the ordinance changed?” Pickett asked.

Barnett confirmed that he is correct and added that a proposal to make this change is being considered by the Ordinance Review Committee.