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Austintown man fined $5K for zoning violations

Published: Thu, October 7, 2010 @ 12:01 a.m.

By Elise Franco



Judge David A. D’Apolito fined township resident Robert Elko $5,000 after he failed to comply with a court order to clean up his property.

Elko, who resides at a home on

Selkirk Avenue, was found guilty in July of violating township zoning laws by storing garbage, debris, vehicles and large appliances on his property, which includes a vacant house, at 3816 Kirk Road.

He was given 90 days to clean up the land, and during his sentencing hearing Wednesday, he told Judge D’Apolito, of Mahoning County Area Court in Austintown, he had complied.

After looking at various photos of the property, taken Wednesday morning by township Zoning Inspector Darren Crivelli, the judge said that piles of wood and gravel covered with tarps, an old air conditioner and a nonoperational boat left on the property proved Elko didn’t meet the court’s requirements.

Elko was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine within 30 days and to finish the process of cleaning the Kirk Road property.

“I don’t know how you can say this is clean,” Judge D’Apolito said. “For whatever reason, you don’t seem to take this seriously.”

“I would hope having gone through the court process he’ll see this is serious and clean the property and be a good neighbor,” Crivelli said.

Prosecutor Ken Cardinal recommended the judge order Elko to pay $100 per day dating back to Dec. 9, 2009, when the case was filed with the court.

Judge D’Apolito said that because Elko had cleaned up about 80 percent of the property, he wouldn’t impose the nearly $30,000 fine recommended by Cardinal.

“I don’t know why I have any compassion for you, but I do,” Judge D’Apolito said.

Elko disagreed with the judge’s assessment as he flipped through the photos.

“In these photos, most of this stuff is normal things on a property,” he said.

Crivelli said Elko was first issued a notice in September 2009 about the large amount of debris on the property.

He was issued a notice in October 2009 to remove a backhoe that was left in the yard, which Crivelli said also violates township zoning laws.

“The charges were filed [Dec. 9] after I sent four letters, and the township zoning office gave him every opportunity to clean up the debris,” Crivelli previously said.

He said Elko also was offered a plea deal in May to pay a $150 fine and clean up the property, which he refused.

Crivelli said though the property is about 80 percent cleaned, items left in the yard easily could have been moved into a detached garage near the house.

“There is still a good amount of junk and debris, and it shouldn’t be stored in an exposed manner,” he said.

Crivelli said he plans to give Elko about two weeks to finish cleaning up the land before he issues another citation.


1Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years ago

Dope dealers operate with impunity and don't get fined that kind of money when caught . A fine of one tenth of that would have more than sufficed .

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2Smarty1984(4 comments)posted 4 years ago

It's called a trial penalty, and it is rampant in our system. $5,000 does seem excessive, but you have to remember that the guy had 10 months to clean up his own yard that he was COURT ORDERED to clean! It was a slap in D'Apolito's face. Considering what the prosecution proposed, $5,000 is reasonable. Granted, had he taken the deal it would have cost him a lot less on a lot of levels, but given that he disobeyed a court order, the system had to "get tough". Perhaps David D'Apolito should be a judge on the state level (as opposed to county) and bring down the hammer on the REAL criminals...

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3ytownsteelman(631 comments)posted 4 years ago

Once again the law makes no distinction for private property rights. I just looked at aerials of the property and the amount of stuff there isn't excessive. When I lived on Kirk Road I don't remember this property sticking out like some other trash infested places do.

Just another case of government screwing with people because they can.

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4UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 4 years ago

Why pick on Elko? Maybe because he has money? What about all those other rundown properties all over Mahoning County? Why aren't those owners beiong fined for their properties? This picture actually doesn't look all that bad compared to so many others I pass everyday as I drive around the county. Elko should go out and take digital pictures of those and see if the prosecutor reacts or just ignores all the others. This is a travesty of equal justice!!!

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5Lifes2Short(3877 comments)posted 4 years ago

This isn't nothing compared to the disgusting pieces of filth in other areas.

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6AtownParent(562 comments)posted 4 years ago

It was a dump until this weekend where I personally saw numerous men on the property cleaning things. This place has always been a dump and I for one am glad they gave him the fine. Maybe he will finally take it seriously.

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7henryviii1509(274 comments)posted 4 years ago

There is a place in Lake Milton that is 10 times worse than this, and, noone will force that guy to clean it up. He has money too, he works at G.M. as does his daughter who also lives there! They are PIGS!

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8walter_sobchak(1928 comments)posted 4 years ago

Zoning rgulations are put in place to protect property values. No matter how well I may keep-up my property, it will most certainly be devalued with a pig sty next door. (Your right to throw a punch at me stops at the tip of my nose.) Under Ohio law, zoning is one of the only way townships can protect themselves from things happening like this.

And, you have to be a fool to challenge a judge in his court. He is lucky the judge let him off so cheap.

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9walter_sobchak(1928 comments)posted 4 years ago

Zoning rgulations are put in place to protect property values. No matter how well I may keep-up my property, it will most certainly be devalued with a pig sty next door. (Your right to throw a punch at me stops at the tip of my nose.) Under Ohio law, zoning is one of the only way townships can protect themselves from things happening like this.

And, you have to be a fool to challenge a judge in his court. He is lucky the judge let him off so cheap.

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10Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 4 years ago

I drove by this place three weeks ago . The Judge did not fine him enough , Looks like North Jackson, what a pig .

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11iBuck(223 comments)posted 4 years ago

I don't think he should be locked up for more than 2 years, if this is the judge's first offense.

Zoning regulations and "codes" are put in place to violate other people's property rights. As Candide would say, tend your own garden, and leave your neighbor's garden to him... unless he asks for your help.

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12Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years ago

There is very little penalty for drug dealing in Austintown . An excellent place to do business and no one will notice as long as you don't have a gravel pile in the driveway . Right now the prostitutes are selling dope and they can't keep up with the demand .

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13dees2cents(38 comments)posted 4 years ago

I do not live in Austintown, but where I do live, there are zoning regulations.
This being said, these regulations do not include everyone in our township...only the residents that they want to go after or are called on.
Neighbors in the same area have the same violations on their property but they are left alone.
Also, the zoning regulations change to the twp.'s convince.
I personally feel that the whole zoning thing is a big game.

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14southsidedave(4786 comments)posted 4 years ago

The picture does not indicate serious violations, therefore, the "garbage" must be concealed from our view. Great work by the Vindy photographer - as usual.

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15Traveler(606 comments)posted 4 years ago

More proof that the courts are cowards lets go after someone that has trash on there property. So we wont have the time to deal with the drug dealers.

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16crafty(16 comments)posted 4 years ago

This mess is in my immediate neighborhood. The front porch is crammed with junk, several pick up trucks overflowing with more junk are parked in the yard. The man is sour grapes because he wanted to sell the property to a villa developer. The township approved the plan on a smaller scale than the developer wanted, so the developer backed out. And this, apparently, is Elko's way of getting even. Well, the neighbors have had enough! THANK YOU JUDGE D'APOLITO!

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17leftyompton4life(79 comments)posted 4 years ago

I feel bad for this guy,he was one of my favorite customers when I worked in Youngstown...very nice guy. Doesnt take away from what is happening,guess just didnt expect to read about him this way.

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18DOLE2(594 comments)posted 4 years ago

Obey the law and ther are no fines...easy!

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19candystriper(575 comments)posted 4 years ago

The pioneers came here for zoning laws.

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20Traveler(606 comments)posted 4 years ago

No that i don't like zoning laws. I just see this as more proof of government mismanagement. How much time and money did the courts and prosecutors office spend on this they could have been looking at drug dealers.
The code enforcement people could be looking at crack house and figuring out who owns them and going after them. But no lets go after someone with trash in there yard!

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21YSUGRAD(134 comments)posted 4 years ago

As the snow flies
On a cold and gray Atown mornin'
A poor little man has trash in the yard
In the ghetto
And the judge cries
'cause if there's one thing that I don't like
it's another scrap pile on Kirk Rd
In the ghetto

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22Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years ago


On a dark cold dreary night
Not a creature was stirring they were all out of sight

The crackhouse was all lit up in splendor
Everyone was there to see the vendor

The party was in full swing
Crack was it nothing else meant a thing

There were seen familiar faces
Who worked in goverment places

Yep, this party was going down
In good old Austintown

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