Village battling eyesores

W hen resident John Norton stood up at last week’s Granville Village Board meeting and asked why nothing was being done to clean up shabby properties, Mayor Brian LaRose had an immediate answer for him.

“Actually, Mr. Norton, out new code enforcement officer has been hard at work at that, and if you’d like, you can stop into the village’s clerk’s office tomorrow and read those reports,” LaRose said.

Norton, who has made the same complaint numerous times, said he still saw places that had too much trash and other issues.

“Please come look at what we have done, and if you have any specific places you’d like him to look at, just give us the addresses,” LaRose continued, getting backing from several other village trustees, all of whom who were very supportive of the work of the recently appointed Fred Roberts.

A week later, Roberts, a part-time employee who works 10 to 15 hours a week, was sitting in his office, going over his latest reports and saying that while he has had some success so far, there is always work to be done.

“The harder you look, the more you see,” said Roberts, a retired corrections captain and Granville native. Roberts has already had a half-dozen unregistered motor vehicles moved, though he added there are many others. “Once you start looking for them, you see them everywhere,” he said. “A lot of people don’t even realize they’re not allowed to store them in their yards.”

The other prohibition he thinks people are unaware of is a village ban on “temporary structures,” such as canvas or plastic “carports” or garages.

“I had just finished working with one man to get his taken down,” Roberts said. “He wasn’t happy, but then who would be?

“I went back to make sure it had come down, and I looked across the street and you could see another one that had just gone up across the street,” said Roberts, who has already spoken with that homeowner, who said his garage is under renovation and the temporary structure will come down quickly.

Village Clerk-Treasurer Rick Roberts said he’s been impressed with the work. “He’s really doing a good job, but we know it’s not going to happen overnight,” he said. “He’s been stopping by houses and talking to people, and he’s doing a great job communicating with Washington County.”

Fred Roberts, the inspector, said he’s also gotten help from others. “The carting companies in town have been a lot of help,” he said. “J.P. Trucking is really good. We had a situation where someone had passed away, and there was a lot of trash out in front of the house. They came and took it right away.” Roberts also worked with a landlord who found an apartment had been abandoned and was filled with trash. He also worked with a local propane company to have an empty abandoned tank removed following the Factory Street flooding.

“People have been pretty good about it,” he said. “Nobody like someone to come along and tell them there’s a problem on their property,” he said. “But you talk to them and work with them, and it gets done.”

Roberts is in his office and on patrol on Mondays, but he is also out on other days of the week. “I will respond to complaints first,” he said, “I do everything I can to keep from having to fine people.”

By law, he can do that, and LaRose said that village Judge Roger Forando has said he will back Roberts up if cases come to court.

“We’re serious about this,” LaRose said. “We want a better-looking village, and I think Fred has gotten that off to a good start.”

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