Youngstown officials, agencies conduct South Side zoning sweep
By John W. Goodwin Jr.
Laura Fulmer, the city’s zoning-code-enforcement officer, spends her days canvassing city properties making sure they are up to code, but her efforts were combined with several other agencies in a South Side enforcement sweep.
Prosecutors, police, litter, zoning, housing and health department officials fanned out Wednesday along South Avenue in an enforcement blitz meant to improve the quality of life in the South Avenue corridor.
Dana Lantz, first assistant law director and the city’s housing prosecutor, said the plan is to hit the entire city bit by bit, tackling all quality-of-life issues.
“The mayor has determined that code enforcement and criminal enforcement are his top priority,” Lantz said. “We are hitting focused areas. The idea is that we will eventually hit the entire city, but we are trying to break it down into manageable sections.”
Lantz walked the South Avenue corridor with police Lt. William Ross looking for violations from Indianola Avenue to Midlothian Boulevard.
“This is basically a walk-through. This is part of an overall strategy the police chief has to curtail various types of crime,” he said.
Ross said the police department plans to hire six additional officers in November, which will help continue safety efforts throughout the city.
For now, Fulmer and the members of the other city and Mahoning County agencies involved in the enforcement blitz, go door to door inspecting each property for small to large violations.
Some of the properties were abandoned, with missing gutters, roofs in disrepair, high grass and garbage across the property. For these properties, Fulmer searches the Internet for the owner so a citation can be issued.
“You would think you would not have to say it, but a lot of people have to be told these things. You have to cut your grass; you have to pick up the trash on your property,” she said.
One small South Avenue grocery store received a warning for having graffiti on the side of the building. Displayed in large letters on the side of the corner building were the words “LBG CUZZ 20” and “BLOODGAME.”
A store employee said the graffiti had been painted over once, but vandals continually spray-paint the building. The store property also was littered with trash and an old tire.
Councilman John R. Swierz, D-7th, told the employee the property must be maintained. He suggested hiring outside security to make sure there is no loitering or vandalism.
Fulmer said the building’s owner received a warning and 30 days to make corrections to the property. She said legal and civil action could follow if the corrections are not made.
Officials have not said when or where the next enforcement blitz will take place.