City addresses alleged ‘drug house’

By Sam Wildow -

PIQUA — During the Piqua City Commission meeting Tuesday evening, City Manager Gary Huff addressed an issue that a resident had brought before the commission during their last meeting concerning an alleged “drug house” in Piqua.

The residence in question was on the 800 block of Park Avenue, and the resident believed the house to be a center for criminal activity. The resident researched the reported criminal activity at that residence for the last six months and said that he found 30 calls to the police involving that house in the Piqua police reports.

Huff explained that the city has created an internal process for reviewing situations like that in future to avoid having a particular residence become a place where numerous calls for police occur.

“We feel that we can correct the problem in these cases,” Huff said. “We appreciate that citizen coming forward.”

In this particular instance, the city met with the property owner and that house was cited as a nuisance. Huff explained that as it was labeled a nuisance, it could not be rented. Huff said that the property owner has begun the eviction process, but Huff believed that most of the residents there have moved out. In the future, the property owner will have to have a lease showing who should be living there.

Huff also noted that cases like this one are not about neighbors not liking other neighbors.

“These are serious issues that need to be addressed,” Huff said.

Commissioner Joe Wilson also encouraged the public to keep an eye out in case the criminal activity moves to another part of town. Wilson said that the public can contact the city about other potential residences that appear to be a place of frequent criminal activity.

Also during the meeting, two resolutions concerning the Piqua Health Board were approved, including the authorization of certain actions for the health commissioner.

“State law allows for the health commissioner or his representatives to make certain actions when we’re conducting food service operation inspections,” Amy Welker, director of the Health and Sanitation Department, said. Welker went on to say that the local health board is required to authorize those actions.

“So that’s what this legislation does,” Welker said. “It would allow the health commissioner or his representative to embargo food, destroy food, or tag equipment in a facility.”

The resolution appeared to be a formality, as Welker noted that the city has never had to do any of those three actions and that the state has requested the city to have those actions authorized.

The commission also appointed Melissa Kinney as registrar of Vital Statistics for the Piqua Health Board.

During the commission’s regular meeting, they heard the first reading of an ordinance to levy special assessments to pay for the cost of nuisance abatement assessments. The majority of nuisance abatements on the list are for grass cutting.

The cost of some of the assessments are as low as $40 and as high as $800 against some of the property owners where the city has been forced to take care of a nuisance on that property, such as high grass. Welker noted that varying of fees is due to a provision in the ordinance that has escalating fees for repeat offenders.

The commission lastly approved filing an application with the Ohio Public Works Commission for funding of $200,000 for the Shawnee Storm Water Diversion Sewer Project. The funding will be a zero percent interest loan for 30 years. The plan is for the project is to install a 48-inch storm water pipe along 450 linear feet, starting at the intersection of Cleveland and Second streets and running west to the Great Miami River.

By Sam Wildow

Reach reporter Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336

Reach reporter Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336