Township steps up enforcement after fires

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By Amanda Amsel
Staff Writer

There have been several deliberately set fires in one Franklin Township neighborhood.

At the recent board meeting, the trustees reassured township residents that the fire and police departments are monitoring the situation and trying to find the culprit(s).

“We have a lot of abandon houses in the township and we have been working with area groups to tear down these houses,” said John Fleshman, Franklin Township trustee. “However one person or multiple people are taking it upon themselves to start tearing down these houses themselves by setting them on fire.”

In the Moneybak Farms neighborhood,  vandals have reportedly set fire to three separate houses in two weeks. The fires seem to take place on Fridays after 10 p.m.

“One of the fires was at a house we were working on getting torn down,” Fleshman said. “It is obvious that it wasn’t a utility issue and none of the times this has happened there hasn’t been lighting. To us it seems like someone wants these houses gone from this neighborhood and is taking matters into their own hands.”

All the houses that have been set on fire were abandon, leaving officials to worry that these arsons aren’t over.

According to Fleshman, the houses were so badly damaged that there was little the township could do to investigate the cause of the fire and the properties had to be knocked down.

The trustees have requested a stronger police presence in the older subdivision and feel they will catch whoever is responsible.

“We understand people are frustrated with these blighted houses, but this is not the way to solve this issue,” Fleshman said. “You are putting our firefighters at risk and endangering other homes in the neighbor.”

In other news, the trustees approved allowing the fire department to go back to the auditor for a second time to solicit levy amounts for an upcoming November fire levy.

Since the township decided to not combine this levy with older permanent levies and instead do a five-year timed levy, the fire department has to go back to the auditor to get some data on how much they should ask voters for. The trustees hope to approve this amount in the coming week so the fire department can start hosting public meetings to educate voters, as well as start canvassing the area.

The trustees also gave an update on the donated Havenwood Park. The township hopes to take over the park in the coming months and plans to have an event celebrating its opening.

“We are thrilled that we will be receiving this park for free,” Fleshman said. “The Romney Group has done a lot of work on it, so it will be a great resource for years to come. Also, this will be the first park in Franklin Township so it is a big deal.”

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