Officer hired as village code enforcer

BELLAIRE — Starting Monday, there will be a new code enforcer in town as Bellaire Village Council on Thursday hired police Lt. Richard “Dick” Flanagan to fill the role on a part-time basis.

Meanwhile, council is considering increasing its residential garbage collection rate by $3.36 with a new proposed ordinance.

Flanagan, who has worked for 25 years as an officer in the village, said he was approached about taking the code enforcement job that was recently left vacant. Flanagan said he was serious about taking the position, as long as council was serious about backing him up in his pursuit to clean up Bellaire.

Council members agreed, voting in favor of hiring him. Councilman Dan Brown abstained from voting.

“I want this man to have the job,” Councilman Donny Maupin said prior to the vote.

After the meeting, Flanagan said he knows he has a lot of work to do, but he is looking forward to the challenge. He will continue to work as a full-time police officer.

Flanagan noted since he is a law enforcement officer, he can also write citations while working as the code enforcer.

“Now I can give citations for nuisance ordinances and if there is failure to comply with that, people can be arrested. … I already know it’s going to be an uphill fight. I’ll go and see people and they will say, ‘Hey what about the village property there?’ Understandably that’s a natural reaction. But guess what? We’ve got to start somewhere,” Flanagan said. “And what I mean (is) there are some landlords, landowners, some banks, some (realty) companies who need to clean up their properties. I’m not going to pick and choose who I go after — the law is for everyone.

“Everyone’s got an excuse and a story. Past administrations have inherited these problems and it’s got to stop. We’ve come to that time. … I’m putting people on notice that Bellaire officials are taking this serious. I want to get an early start on this. I don’t want to hear any excuses. These slum landlords are charging $700 and $800 a month in rent. They need to start putting this money back into sidewalks and keep their weeds cut,” he said.

Flanagan said the previous code enforcer was paid about $1,200 a month, but he agreed to do the job for half that amount.

“I wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t a challenge. … Abandoned houses, it’s going to take work tracking owners down for that,” he added.

Flanagan, who works the midnight shift as a police officer, said while working in his capacity as a code enforcer he will also wear his police uniform. However, he said he will be sure to tell people that he is working in his capacity as code enforcer when he knocks on people’s doors.

In other matters:

∫ Council heard the first reading of a proposed ordinance that calls for increasing residential garbage collection rates from $12.74 per month to $16.10 monthly. The proposed ordinance also calls for changes to monthly commercial rates. For example, the lowest would be $25 for a 1-yard dumpster picked up once a week, and the highest would be $1,400 for an 8-yard dumpster picked up seven times a week.

Proposed commercial rates for non-dumpsters include: $35.50 for one to five bags; $45.50 for six to 10 bags; and $55.50 for 11-15 bags.

The proposed ordinance also calls for a 3-percent increase to the rates effective Oct. 1 of each year, starting in 2018.

Council had been considering hiring an outside company to take over sanitation collection in the village, but the rates submitted were much higher than the village’s current rate. It was pointed out during a past meeting that many of the village’s own commercial rates were not evenly applied and should be remedied.

Council is to conduct two more readings of the ordinance before a final vote.

∫ Police Chief Mike Kovalyk said there was a shots-fired call about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday near the Circle K gas station. No one was injured, but shell casings were found at the gas station. Flanagan said he believes the incident was a drug-related dispute regarding money being owed. One of the people involved fired shots at two others and missed, Kovalyk said.

Kovalyk also said an Ohio historical marker recognizing the Great Stone Viaduct was discovered vandalized Wednesday morning. It was broken off a pole and is expected to cost $2,700 to repair.

Anyone with information regarding this can call the department at 740-676-3322. Kovalyk believes the vandalism occurred sometime after the viaduct society had its annual dinner Tuesday. It was erected in 1997 via a grant secured by the village.

∫ Village Administrator Scott Porter said no one submitted bids for an advertised roof replacement project for the municipal building. Porter was given the OK to call companies who had given past estimates. It was estimated previously that replacing the building’s rubber roof, which has been patched many times and continues to leak, would cost about $200,000.

∫ Council approved allowing Mayor Vince DiFabrizio to seek a $692,000 loan for Ohio Environmental Protection Agency-mandated upgrades to the village’s water treatment plant.

∫ DiFabrizio promised West 23rd Street resident Eugene Burney that work to divert water running onto his property would begin on Wednesday. Burney complained about the issue a few weeks ago and was promised action. However, Porter said his workers had been too busy with other emerging projects. Burney said he just wanted a date set for the project, leading to DiFabrizio setting the date.

∫ The village’s trick-or-treat session is set from 6-7:30 p.m. Oct. 31.