BETHESDA-"Every year a chosen few in this town decide they're not going to take care of their properties," according to Bethesda Mayor Marty Lucas. "It's not fair to the people who do take pride in their homes, so we're going to draft an ordinance with some teeth in it." Mayor Lucas called for a council work session on Monday, June 25 at 6:30 p.m. to address a growing number of neglected and abandoned properties with overgrown grass and weeds and piles of trash.
At Thursday's village council meeting, he asked council members to come with ideas on tracking property owners down and making them accountable. Possible options for the revised ordinance may include shorter time limits, stiffer fines and levying charges onto tax and water bills for the village mowing overgrown lawns.
Village Solicitor Marlin Harper pointed out that some of the abandoned homes are in limbo with property owners who have walked away from their mortgages and banks or mortgage companies that don't care about or want the homes. The mayor wants residents to know that he will listen to complaints about neglected properties and will be aggressive about getting them cleaned up. "This town is looking shabby. I'm tired of chasing people down to mow their grass, so I want to do something about this."
The village has also given Harper a list of delinquent water bill customers who have moved out of town in preparation of legal action to retrieve those funds.
A resident attending the council meeting was, in fact, there to discuss an abandoned house which he would like to purchase. The house is becoming dilapidated and is owned by a different family member now. This resident has not been able to locate any owner and was asking council for assistance. Harper suggested finding out how long the taxes have been delinquent and contacting the county prosecutor's office about a tax foreclosure. Condemning the house is an option, but "a long, expensive process" according to Harper.
Chris Munn, a representative from Volunteer Energy, delivered a community reinvestment check to council in the amount of $513. The money will go into the recreation fund for supplies for parades and holiday events.
Village Administrator Tim Zdanski informed council that he was notified by the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) that the village application for revolving loan money has been put on the draft list for approval for Tier 1 level funding. Should Bethesda be approved, the town will be eligible for up to $3.2 million, 40 percent of which would be a grant, and the remaining 60 percent could be borrowed from the fund at zero percent interest. There is also the possibility of a $500,000 grant from CDBG funds.
Zdanski added that engineers may adjust the planned water line route to travel all the way down Noon Road instead of cutting over to the railroad track. He said this would be more accessible for construction and in line with the county plan.
Repair estimates for road damage from the fire at Lake and Virginia Sts. range from $12,000 for a minimal "bandaid" overlay to $79,000 for a complete reconstruction. Water and heavy equipment created rolling and buckling in the pavement. The road now needs replacement asphalt, brick, stone and a storm drain, but this area is slated for the new water project which will be tearing up and replacing the road in the next two years. Council opted to go with the less extensive repairs to address the worst damage.
New signs will be going up at either end of the Bethesda Reservoir regarding fishing limits and boating regulations. Permits are required to fish, and permit fees will be used to stock the lake.
The village is preparing for Chautauqua Days July 14 and 15. A 5K run/walk will be held Saturday morning before the parade. Councilman Rodney Miller is organizing the run, which is on the Grand Prix Series sponsored by The Health Plan, the Ohio Valley Runners' and Walkers' Club and Centre Town Fitness.
Monday, May 28, the village will host its annual Memorial Day Parade. Line-up will take place beginning at 10 a.m. in the old Bethesda School lot. Civic groups, churches and veterans' groups are encouraged to participate.
Bethesda village council meets on the fourth Thursday of each month at 7 p.m.
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