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Neighbors call Volney Road home unsanitary eyesore

Published: Fri, April 20, 2012 @ 12:01 a.m.

By Ashley Luthern



Neighbors who live near a Volney Road house that is spared demolition, at least temporarily, say they want its demolition to go forward and will attend a Wednesday hearing about the house.

The house at 2278 Volney Road is owned by Thomas T. Kelly, who through his lawyer, said: “The property is not unsafe, a nuisance or unsanitary and blighted” when requesting a restraining order Tuesday to prevent the city from razing it.

That is untrue, neighbors said.

Bruce Harapcio has lived in the Idora Neighborhood, which borders a portion of Mill Creek Park, since 1996.

“From Day One, that house has been an eyesore,” he said. “The big landmark he had was a huge, heavy tow-chain hanging from a front-yard tree and attached to the chain was a large piece of garbage, a rocking horse and street signs right by the sidewalk,” Harapcio said.

He said he plans to attend Kelly’s 2 p.m. Wednesday preliminary-injunction hearing.

“The neighborhood is being built up again with quality citizens and quality homes. That house is pulling everyone down. You have the beautiful park setting and this ugly deplorable property,” Harapcio said.

Idora Neighborhood Association president James London said Kelly’s house has dissuaded two prospective home buyers from moving to the area.

“I’ve tried all my connections to get [Kelly] some help. He won’t accept help. For about five years I worked on that, and he just hollers at me,” London said.

The house at 2278 Volney Road has been a long-standing concern in the neighborhood, said Ian Beniston, deputy director of the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp.

“I know of residents complaining about it since 1997. I have a letter to [former Youngstown] Mayor George McKelvey where a resident has

obviously made a complaint,” Beniston said.

The house is a haven for health problems, he added.

“He’s a hoarder. He has stuff from floor to ceiling. He cannot enter the house through a door and uses a ladder to enter though a window. There is no running water. ... And the property itself is deteriorating,” Beniston said.

When a Vindicator photographer visited the property Tuesday and spoke to Kelly, the homeowner said: “I’m going to move back in the house, and I’m going to fix it all up. I’ve got the money.”

“I got a lot of stuff in there. They call it junk,” he added.

London said although there has been a long wait for a resolution, he is “very happy” with the response from current city officials including Mayor Charles Sammarone.

DeMaine Kitchen, the mayor’s chief of staff, sent Kelly a letter April 11, saying the Volney Road house “is vacant, structurally unsound, and also poses a danger to surrounding occupied structures” and to firefighters, if they enter it.

“This is an immediate emergency situation,” Kitchen wrote, adding the city intended to demolish the house immediately.

In court documents filed by his lawyer Donald P. Leone, Kelly said he has not had a chance to remove his personal belongings from the premises since receiving the letter.

“I think the whole point of the case was that the property was declared that it was subject to demolition.

Under the housing code down at the city, they have a right to appeal that and have a hearing. [Kelly] did that, but before they have any hearing, he had received a letter from [Kitchen] saying it’s not safe, and we’re going to tear it down immediately,” Leone said.

Leone said he argued that Kelly has at least a right to an appeal hearing and due process under the city housing code, instead of receiving notification of demolition and then having a bulldozer show up on the property shortly after.

“I took photos of the property and it’s in tough shape. ...[Kelly] has to improve it or tear it down. He needed some time to get his personal

property from the old family home. Hopefully, we can resolve it all on Wednesday,” Leone said.

London said he understands Kelly wants to retrieve his belongings, but he disagrees with the statement in Kelly’s affidavit that the house is “not unsafe.”

“I’d like to tell [Kelly’s] lawyer, ‘If you think it’s that safe and solid, then bring your family and stay for a week or a weekend, and tell me if it’s livable. If you still think it’s safe, then I’ll retract everything I said,’” London said.

Leone said the documents he filed were to preserve Kelly’s right to due process.

“I want the housing stock to be good in the city. Sometimes you have things in [these homes] that you should have, at least, the opportunity to retrieve before the bulldozer comes,” Leone said.


1doowoptokidrock(325 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

I like that idea.Let the attorney and his family spend the weekend there.

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2iBuck(231 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

From an outsider's POV, the neighbors need to either become neighborly and pitch in to help clean up the yard or learn to live and let live, to mind their own business (as one of the USA's first coins suggested as the USA's motto). It's NOT YOUR HOUSE or land.

But it could be worse. Back in 1996 there was a case in which the city first sent spies to trespass, and then a paramilitary squad which sealed off the whole neighborhood before they murdered an elderly guy who required crutches or a wheel-chair to get around because his yard was messy. He was sitting on his front porch with his crutches propped against the wall next to his front door, behind him, which fact could be seen in the photographs of the shot-gun shot pattern on the siding.

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3TERRAPINST(320 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Give em hell Shipwreck! I realize that unsafe properties must be dealt with. However I get concerned that sometimes if people dont LIKE something they think they should use the Courst as a means to get their way. ITS HIS HOUSE, HE PAID FOR IT. If he wants to paint it purple and green he should be able. We dont kill ugly people, there are plenty of ugly vehicles we dont crush. Safety yes, unsightly uh who decides?

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4bsafeandproud(46 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

To UticaShale - OK, so "due process" will delay it another week or two. Kelly's legal matters, including fines and jail time, has been ongoing 13 YEARS since 1999.

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5NoBS(2390 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

To all the sympathetic types who say just let it be, if it were just a matter of personal taste you might have a point, although I'll bet you wouldn't want to live next door to or downwind from this mess for 15 or 20 years. However, there are laws in place that cover this exact sort of thing, and they mandate that if the owner does not maintain his property in a manner consistent with accepted standards, the property can eventually, after due process, be demolished. Now that time is at hand. What has the owner been doing with it since the first complaints, before the turn of the last century?

If he's a hoarder, as from the descriptions he must be, he will never clear his stuff out of the house, and will never fix and repair it. Since this final push to demolish the house, how much has he done? Anything?

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6drpautot(70 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

I used to live in that neighborhood before LSP took control of the streets there. its been an eyesore for as long as i can remember. Why not get the green team to help this guy out? if it cant be fixed, it surely can be recycled. there are several gorgeous homes in that neighborhood, a cop lived on my block, and an appellate judges mother lived at the end of the road. its not the only eyesore in Youngstown, but there are ways to solve the problem.

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7CountryGirl51(221 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

The house and property is a real eye sore from seen on the video. But if this man has had years to fix things up and thinks everything is ok, he will never do anything. It isnt just appearance that is the problem, it is safety. The house might not be safe to live in. He says he has the money., talk is ok..but you have to do the walk. Which he has not all these yrs !! Climbing through a window to get in your house !! That is bad !! If he has a fire in that place. hed never make it out alive ! And no utilities...You have to have working plumbing to live in a home ! What is he doing with his bodily waste ??? That i wouldnt even want to think about ! I say give him time to get whatever personal stuff he wants, then....time for the house to go. Hes had plenty of yrs to make it right !

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8One_Who_Stayed(240 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

From the Mahoning County Auditor's site.

That would be:

He doesn't even live here folks! No need to climb in thought a window. . . he doesn't live there! Nor does he live at

or 249 REDONDO

All properties he "owns". This guy is a HOUSE HORDER! Not only does he stuff these houses full of stuff - he HOARDS houses to put more stuff into!

Enough of these idiots imposing this sort of crap on their neighbors. Bulldoze this menace now - and the others he "owns" yet doesn't take care of as well.

By the way - I personally know of another person that does this sort of thing as well. He's not the only one.

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9grg019(34 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Word on the street is that he's a wealthy dude playing the role of a junk man bum!

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10watchdog82(2 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Grg019, I have heard the same from multiple reliable sources. I have seen Kelly here and there over the past 15 years. He often talked about his many stocks and walked around giving stock tips to random people. I have followed a few of his stock tips, and he was almost always dead on.

He sometimes ate at the local soup kitchen when he obviously did not need to. I know a soup kitchen group volunteer who heard Kelly bragging about his stock portfolio and claiming that it was worth over a million dollars. Well, multiple sources indicate that he is a millionaire based on liquid assets alone.

As far as hoarding goes, someone I know spotted him collecting scrap from a downtown demolition and loading his truck. I have seen his truck, too. There was trash piled from floor to ceiling, and his dog was sitting unattended in the car with the windows open. This was in Youngstown to boot.

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11grg019(34 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Same thing I heard watchdog. He's suppose to be a somewhat mastermind in the stock market. He eats @ soup kitchens and rides around with all that junk in his truck. I also heard he's a cheap skate and barely buys anything.

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12watchdog82(2 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Sammarone beware - Shipwreck Kelly can be very flatulent!! Approach with caution please.

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