Akron is no longer confining its nuisance law to residential properties.
Akron City Council voted Monday to extend this 2006 law to any type of property, including commercial, retail and vacant.
This means the owners of these properties can be assessed for the cost of police officers being dispatched to handle repeated complaints against them.
“It’s really just the city trying to recoup its expenses,” said John York, an assistant law director.
The nuisances include disorderly conduct, drug and alcohol offenses, health or sanitation violations, assaults, littering, theft, weapons violations and open burning. When a property owner has three nuisance calls in a six-month period, his or her property is labeled a nuisance. A fourth or subsequent offense within the following six months results in the property owner being assessed for the cost of the officers dispatched to the property.
The amount of the assessment is based on the salary of the officer or officers who responded.
John Valle, director of neighborhood assistance, said he often hears complaints about retail, commercial and vacant properties during block watch meetings.
“It’s pretty much citywide,” he said. “We’re hearing in the community that they need more resources.”
Council members indicated support for expanding the law, though a few questioned how the offenses are tracked and when properties are deemed nuisances.
“When you think a property would be labeled as a nuisance, it doesn’t happen,” said Councilman Ken Jones. “With some, it happens immediately.”
A representative of the police department, which tracks nuisances, is expected to attend an upcoming council meeting to answer council members’ questions about the law and how it’s administered.
Council members received additional details Monday on a sale of city-owned land and a development agreement for a new grocery store in Highland Square. Council is expected to vote on the sale and agreement next Monday.
Adele Roth, the city’s development manager, provided council members with the development agreement and several flow charts that help illustrate the complex deal that involves Akron selling city-owned land at the corner of North Portage Path and West Market Street where the nearly 24,000-square-foot grocery store will be built, and the Chipotle building to the east, to Highland Square Economic Development LLC, which the city set up to be the developer for the project.
Mustard Seed Grocers, which operates two other grocery stores, will lease the property with the option to buy it in the future. Mustard Seed will manage the Chipotle building, with the rent from the building helping to cover the debt service on a $3.8 million federal loan the city received for the project.
The city is expected to recoup its investment, besides about $417,000 it spent on the property where the grocery store will be located, Roth said.
Phillip Nabors, who co-owns Mustard Seed with his wife, said he’s excited to finally bring a grocery store to the neighborhood where he’s long resided. He’s hoping to break ground in August, with construction expected to take 12 to 18 months.
“It’s been a long journey,” he said. “A lot of people didn’t give up.”
In other business, five West Akron residents spoke during council’s public comment period, complaining about flooding from last Wednesday’s storm that caused damage to their houses and belongings. The residents who live on Westover Drive and Jefferson Avenue urged the city to address the recurring drainage and flooding problems or to buy the houses.
Judy Dorr, who lives on Jefferson, said she has had flooding in her house 10 times since 1976. She said she had 7½ feet of water in her basement and the water ruined her air conditioner and hot water tank.
“I can’t sell it. I can’t rent it. It’s unsafe to live in,” she said.
Emiro Uribe, who lives on Westover, said he’s had flooding five times in the last 25 years, with the latest incident being the most serious. He said his insurance claim totaled nearly $29,000 in damage and he has a cracked foundation and uneven floors. He said his wife was terrified during the flooding and ran and grabbed their cat and went to their car.
“She thought our house was collapsing,” he said. “Something is really wrong here.”
Public Service Director John Moore met with the residents after the meeting to hear more about their concerns and what the city might be able to do to address them.