Residents have complained for seven years about trash on the property.
By KANTELE FRANKO
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
CAMPBELL -- City officials are hoping that their most recent efforts to persuade an Oxford Street man to clean up his property might have a more lasting effect than their past efforts.
Since 1999, city officials have filed eight complaints against David Cole of 39 Oxford St.
In the most recent of those warnings, which was issued Friday, Mayor John Dill requested that Cole remove junk cars and other scrap construction materials from his property to comply with the city maintenance code.
According to the code, owners cannot maintain any exterior condition "which deteriorates or debases the appearance of the neighborhood, reduces property values in the neighborhood, creates a fire, safety or health hazard, or which is a public nuisance."
Dill said Monday that Cole had already removed three old cars and other materials from the property and would likely avoid a court appearance by continuing to clean up the yard.
"This has been ongoing for a long period of time," Dill said. "I think the point was made that the city has taken a position that we're not going to tolerate it anymore. Apparently he's got that message."
Cole could not be reached to comment.
Since 1999, the city has charged Cole three other times with violating the maintenance code. One of those cases was dismissed after Cole brought his property up to code, but he was fined in two of the cases for failing to fully comply, Dill said.
Dill also filed three complaints with the Mahoning County Board of Health in 2003, 2004 and 2005, alleging that Cole had trash and scrap wood and metal piled around his property and that there were rats in the yard.
The complaints were spurred by calls from neighbors, Dill said.
Angelo Italiano, an investigator with the county's Solid Waste Program, closed each of those complaints after Cole complied with Italiano's warnings to properly dispose of the materials and bait for any rodents.
Second Ward councilman Brian Tedesco filed a fourth complaint with the board Aug. 3, again citing trash on Cole's property as a reason for concern. The complaint has not yet been investigated by Italiano.
The Solid Waste Program handled only the potential public health concerns, not complaints that dealt with junk cars and unsightly messes, program director Mary Helen Smith said.
Although the property's appearance might have been aesthetically unappealing, Cole had a right to keep the old cars and materials if he wanted to use them, she said. The board could require only that he store or cover the materials to avoid any public health hazards.
As long as the cars were usable for parts, they were not under the board's jurisdiction, she said.
And though Cole bought tags for the cars to keep them legal, the city had the authority to tow the vehicles because they violated the traffic code, which restricts the placement of "junk motor vehicles" on certain types of property.
Cole is one of hundreds of city residents who have received letters this year making similar requests that they clean up their properties, and most recipients comply.
"But it's a daily fight," Dill said. "It's a problem that every municipality runs into."