By Susan Tebben
Neighbors who call the old Flower Mill next to their homes an eyesore will have to wait even longer to see if repairs will be done to the land or if the place will be demolished.
Since 2011, township officials have been fielding complaints about the property, at 4575 S. Canfield-Niles Road, owned by Shari Francis.
“It’s like living next to a landfill,” said Darlene Welch, who lives next to the property. She also spoke at a recent township trustees meeting about the issue. “They [the property owners] live in a very nice neighborhood. We just want the chance to do the same.”
The land — which includes a farmhouse, greenhouse and shop building, all of which have been vacant for more than a decade — has been inspected by Jeff Uroseva, Mahoning County chief building official, Oct. 28, 2011; the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency; and the Mahoning County Health Department, along with being cited by Canfield Township zoning inspector Dave Morrison for landscaping and screening- provision violations.
The township called in the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Cardinal Joint Fire District to inspect for hazards as well, but they came up empty.
“We really have worked with all other governmental entities to try and resolve this,” said township Trustee Marie Izzo Cartwright. “We’ve exhausted all avenues.”
Now it’s up to the courts to decide, but the case has been in the courts for nearly a year with continuance after continuance prolonging the process.
In May 2012, a pretrial hearing was scheduled, but the case was moved to a Sebring court when the judge recused himself for a conflict of interest. Another pretrial hearing was set for June 2012, then postponed to July, when Francis’ attorney asked for an extension.
At a pretrial hearing in September, the trial date was scheduled for Nov. 15. It was reset to Nov. 20, then continued to Jan. 17, 2013.
Before the trial could occur in January, Francis had the ownership transferred to her partner, James Steiner.
“That starts the whole process over again,” said Keith Rogers, township administrator.
Francis and Steiner also requested the property be rezoned from agricultural to industrial to open a towing business, but the request was denied by the zoning board.
Now, Rogers and the township must send a new letter to Francis and Steiner declaring the property a nuisance, based on overall lack of maintenance to the property and 50 piles of road millings that are in the parking lot of the property.
A letter was sent about the farmhouse roof to Francis’ attorney, Ronald Knickerbocker, who said the roof would be fixed within 90 days, weather permitting. He declined to comment for this story.
“They say they’ve purchased the materials, and we’ve had pretty nice weather in the last 90 days, for Ohio,” Rogers said. “But it still hasn’t been done.”
The township attorney will now fight it out in the court system with the property owners and township residents, and administrators will just have to wait.
Welch and the other neighbors are hopeful the owners will do what they have said they will do but were shocked to find out that the court case would continue indefinitely.
“We were promised [Jan. 17] was the drop-dead date,” Welch said. “They are gaming the system, and meanwhile, this property brings down our property values.”