Mount Vernon City Hall

MOUNT VERNON — After tightening city ordinances relating to repeated property maintenance violations and creating a property registry to address vacant commercial buildings, Mount Vernon City Council is now turning its attention to chronic nuisance activities.

At their Monday meeting, council members gave the first reading to an ordinance focusing on chronic nuisance properties. A chronic nuisance property is defined as:

  • Property on which three or more nuisance activities and/or two felony drug activities have occurred during any six-month period; or
  • Property on which any person associated with the property has engaged in three or more nuisance activities within any six-month period

Nuisance activities include the following violations of city code:

  • Obstruction of official business, obstruction of justice, resisting arrest, misuse of 9-1-1 system, or failure to disclose personal information violation
  • Alcohol, drug, sex, or gambling violations
  • Animal violations
  • Any offense against another person, excluding offenses where the person in charge or person associated with the property is a victim of the offense and not the perpetrator
  • Illegal distribution of cigarettes or other tobacco products
  • Disorderly conduct or disturbance of the peace
  • Health, safety, or sanitation violation
  • Weapons, explosives, firearm, or handgun violations
  • Any activity or violation indicated to be a public nuisance anywhere in the city code or Ohio Revised Code

The ordinance calls for the police chief to send a letter to the property owner after two nuisance activities or one felony drug activity has occurred within a six-month period. The letter notifies the owner what activity occurred and states that if activity is not corrected or steps taken to prevent it, and an additional violation occurs within the six-month time frame, the city can take administrative or law enforcement action.

If a property is determined to be a chronic nuisance, the property owner can appeal the decision to the safety-service director. Property owners who fail to correct the chronic nuisance are subject to fines ranging from $150 for the first occurrence to $1,000 for the fifth or more violation.

The determination that a property is a chronic nuisance subject to fines and/or prosecution will be effective for two years. If another nuisance or felony drug activity occurs, the two-year period starts over.

Councilman Mike Hillier said the ordinance is a long time coming.

“That, with some other legislation we've passed … I think we might be able to clean up a few things,” he said.

“It will give the hand back to us,” Councilman John Francis said of the legislation. He noted that the ordinance would have helped the city deal with at least 25 properties in the past.

Councilwoman Nancy Vail, chair of the Planning and Zoning Committee, will hold a committee meeting before council's legislative session on June 10 to discuss the ordinance.