City drops junk vehicle case against Helmer


By Ryan Berry

GREENVILLE — Nearly a week-and-a-half after the Daily Advocate/Early Bird requested comment from the city regarding the junk vehicle citation Ralph Helmer received, Law Director Michael Rieman sent an email announcing the city has dropped its case against the Greenville resident.

Helmer was originally cited for having a “junk vehicle” in his garage. The garage did not have a garage door and faced an alley. The other vehicles he was warned about that were outside the garage were removed and a tiller was put into the garage. However, he received a citation for the vehicle that was in the garage. The vehicle had historical plates and Helmer admitted it had flat tires. The vehicle was removed from the garage after he received the citation. Helmer said the vehicle had been in the garage for four or five years without issue.

Rieman wrote, “The city has just recently made the enforcement of nuisance properties a priority for enforcement. The city received a complaint about Mr. Helmer’s property having multiple vehicles and trash on the property. While Mr. Helmer originally cleaned up some of the vehicles, he did not fully abate the nuisance. By Mr. Helmer’s own admission there were multiple vehicles on the property and the car in the open garage had flat tires.”

Rieman said Helmer was cited under Code Section 660.07. The ordinance states, “(c) Storage of Junk Vehicles Prohibited. No person, either the registered owner or person in control of the subject motor vehicle, shall deposit, store, maintain, collect or permit the deposit, storage, maintenance or collection of a junk vehicle or vehicles on premises owned or occupied by, or under the control of, such person, unless any such junk vehicle is completely enclosed within the confines of a structure, and not within ordinary public view.”

Rieman added, “The garage is not enclosed because it does not have a door. Had there been a door or an enclosure the City would not have cited Mr. Helmer.” A review of the court records shows the city submitted “nolle prosequi” on Aug. 9. The term means a formal notice of abandonment by a plaintiff or prosecutor of all or part of a suit or action.

In announcing that the case has been dismissed, Rieman stated, “Regardless, the City’s focus is to get voluntary compliance. Mr. Helmer had the vehicle removed and the nuisance abated. Therefore, the City has dismissed the case.”

The city did not address several of the questions, including did the city’s police go into the garage to look at the vehicle or who is the individual listed on the complaint?

Helmer was a little disappointed by the city’s decision. “I wish they would have taken it to court. I wanted to meet my accuser.” Helmer said he is “fed up” with the city. This is not the first run-in he has had with city officials. Several years ago, he was forced to remove a tree house he had built and more recently he received a trespass violation while trying to video a city official while parked in his ex-wife’s parking lot. Helmer had previously been warned not to go into his ex-wife’s place of business. “That’s why I’m moving out of town,” he said. He hopes to be moved out by next spring.

He said he bowed down to the city’s pressure, “I can’t keep fighting all of these battles,” he said. Helmer concluded, “You’re innocent until your broke – at least in Darke County.”

To contact Daily Advocate Editor Ryan Berry, email [email protected].

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