Reynoldsburg shooting prompts plea for help with rentals

A drive-by shooting in Reynoldsburg has led one woman to plead with City Council to take a closer look at rental properties in the Huber neighborhood.

Hammond Road resident Shirley Buck came to the April 14 council meeting to explain about the shooting, which occurred April 11.

She said her next-door neighbor’s house was struck by a bullet, but the shooters were really aiming for the rental house next door to that.

Buck said this is the last straw in what has been a string of problem renters in her neighborhood.

"We have had some good neighbors, and we have had some messes," she said. "We’ve mowed their lawn, we’ve cleaned up their garbage, we’ve put up with as many as 15 people living in one house."

There are more rental properties than average in the Huber neighborhood, but she said the most troublesome landlord is certainly Huber Rentals.

"I think many of you know how horrible the Huber Rentals are," she said. "I don’t know how they have gotten away with this for so many years. We need everything looked at that Huber Rentals owns."

Buck has been a Reynoldsburg resident since 1959 and grew up in the Huber neighborhood of middle-class families in sturdy, one-story brick homes.

"It breaks my heart to know how this community has changed," she said. "We need some help."

She pointed out that most of her neighbors are single women, many of whom are original homeowners.

"We are desperate," she said. "I feel so bad for the people on that street."

Councilman Mel Clemens agreed that Huber Rentals is a problem for the city.

"They have been a problem for the last 25 years," he said. "Once they rent (the properties) they don’t pay attention to them. I have called them many times. You don’t get any response."

He continued, "They do not take care of their rentals. I think we should look into it. It’s something that shouldn’t be going on – I can show you the problems."

Councilwoman Antoinette Newman questioned City Attorney Jed Hood about legislation he has been asked to work on regarding the city code and rental properties.

"Code enforcement is very important to me and the mayor and we are going to make a concerted effort to get the landlords to live up to our expectations," he said.

Councilman Ron Stake said the city recently beefed up its property maintenance code and the issue is enforcement, not legislation.

"Let’s see about enforcing that one first," he said.

Clemens readily agreed, and suggested the matter be referred to council’s committees for further investigation.

"The ordinance is there," he said. "It’s not being enforced."

He continued, "One junk house on a street ruins the whole damn street. I have no problems getting tough – I think that’s been our problem."

Councilwoman Leslie Kelly agreed this is an important matter that deserves council’s attention.

"All of us here on council are very concerned about maintaining our quality of living and enhancing our quality of living," she said, noting the city’s first priority should be making sure good families stay in Reynoldsburg. "I’m very proud to raise my kids here and I want everyone else to feel that way too."

During the meeting, council also:

•Approved the appointment of Sue Murphy to the Reynoldsburg Civil Service Commission to fill an unexpired term that will expire in 2010.

•Confirmed the mayor’s appointment of Lucas Haire, development director, and Richard Harris, city auditor, to three-year terms on the Brice and Taylor roads tax incentive review councils.

•Heard the first reading of legislation waiving competitive bidding for various exempted contracts and expenditures over $10,000.

•Held a closed executive session to review the city’s collective bargaining strategy. No action was taken following the closed session.

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