City’s code enforcement sees increase in complaints


By Ryan Berry

GREENVILLE — The City of Greenville is attempting to have residents and landlords clean up their properties at a higher rate than they did last year at this time. The subject of code enforcement/nuisance abatement was discussed briefly during the public hearing portion of the Tuesday, June 18 meeting of Greenville City Council and Safety Service Director Ryan Delk and Mayor Jeff Whitaker expanded on the discussion following the meeting with the Daily Advocate/The Early Bird.

In 2023, the city began a concerted effort to “clean up the city” by having a police officer serve as a part time code enforcement officer. They were able to get several properties cleaned up, but realized the officer would be limited in being able to attend court appearances due to also serving as the school resource officer during the school year. Because there is an extended delay from the first notice to actually bringing a resident or landlord into court, even if the process began in June, it would be difficult to be in court by the end of summer.

In May, the city agreed to hire a part time code enforcement officer that works under the Planning and Zoning Department and is separate from the police department. The city hired Chad Baltes as the city’s code enforcement officer. He works year-round and can work a maximum of 32 hours a week. According to Delk, Baltes has already been busy this year since coming into the position towards the end of May.

Delk estimated the current list of complaints against properties to be approximately 100. “We’ve had a lot of voluntary compliance. I guess not as much as we would like to see. I would say 25-30 percent voluntary. We’ve had a lot of I will, but I need more time.”

Mayor Jeff Whitaker said, “I know there was one complaint that had been sent to me over and over again and it has been cleaned up. That was comforting to see that particular one.”

When asked about the number of letters that have been sent to property owners, Delk admitted they are “way more than last year.” He explained the reason for the increase is because they have a dedicated person pursuing code enforcement. “That’s what he does all day, every day. He talks to homeowners. He talks to landlords,” Delk said.

The city is hearing from some of its landlords that they are unaware of how their property looks because they haven’t been there in a while. Many times, the landlords rely on the tenants to mow and take care of the property.

Delk said the city does want to work with property owners/landlords. They are currently developing an expectation sheet. The expectations will be spelled out for landlords and property owners on how the city expects a property to be maintained. “We get a lot of you’re picking on me for this or that. The zoning, the code, I mean it gets pretty nitpicky,” said Delk. He added the city is trying to clean things up.

A large percentage of the complaints concern properties that are abandoned or vacant. The city is finding most of the property owners either live in the city or Darke County. However, there are a few that are on the tax list and could possibly face a sheriff’s sale in the near future.

There isn’t one area of town that is more prone to complaints. The safety service director said there are complaints across the city. The complaints are also a hodgepodge of different offenses that include grass, trash, junk motor vehicles and debris in yards.

“I think Chad’s doing a great job. He is very well organized. Like Ryan said, when we get this letter together that lays out expectations for the landlords it is going to be easier for him to get his message across and be very consistent on what it is we are doing, and everybody gets treated the same. That’s the key. Everybody gets treated the same.”

Some of the property owners that didn’t comply with their violation letters over the past year could soon see their day in court. Delk expects the city to begin taking the initial violators to court in the next month to month and a half. They will try to spread out court dates because they don’t want to overwhelm the court system.

The mayor pledged to continue the course and take violators to court if needed, “We do have to make this program work because if we don’t, the beat goes on,” said Whitaker.

In other business, the council approved the submission of a 1.2 mil levy renewal tax and a 3.8 mill levy renewal tax. Both renewals will appear on the ballot in November. Mayor Whitaker stressed it was important to pass these levies to keep the city running at current levels. Because they are renewal levies, taxpayers will not be paying additional taxes.

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

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