Carma Grime, Archbold zoning inspector, issued 27 warning letters to property owners between Jan. 1 and May 21.
The information was released after this newspaper requested copies of the letters from Grime. The names and addresses of the recipients were removed from the letters as part of the agreement between Grime and this newspaper.
This newspaper’s request for the letters was spawned by a debate that occurred during an April 26 meeting of Archbold Village Council.
Kenny Cowell, councilman, asked if the recipient of one of the warning letters had been singled out for enforcement.
Jim Wyse, Archbold mayor, and Dennis Howell, Archbold village administrator, said no one person was singled out for enforcement.
Wyse said no one could possibly spot every possible zoning infraction in the village.
No warning letters were sent during January and February.
Grime sent out four warning letters during the month of March, all regarding temporary signs on public right of way.
Business owners may erect temporary, portable signs in the public right-of-way for no more than 60 days per year without a permit. Beyond 60 days, a temporary sign requires a permit, but is not allowed to become permanent.
Real estate signs and small announcement signs less than four square feet are exempt.
In one of the letters, Grime said, “As you may or may not recall last fall when we talked about it (the sign) being a visibility problem, I told you to remove the sign from time to time as it was not meant to be a permanent sign.”
Another letter states, “This is a friendly reminder to business owners regarding portable signs…”
But Grime said she can’t remember if the letter went out to all business owners; nor does she have any way to check if they did.
Grass, Weeds, Vehicles
During the month of April, Grime wrote 14 warning letters, the largest number during any month during the time Jan. 1-May 21 time period.
Six letters went to property owners alerting them to grass and weeds in need of attention.
In the letters she told property owners the village’s zoning ordinance states, “It shall be unlawful to allow the growth of grass and weeds to exceed a height of 12 inches or more.”
The ordinance states property owners are given three days notice to mow the grass; if not, village employees will mow the lawn, and the village will bill the property owner for the service.
Some of the letters tell property owners, “Even if you are not living on the site, you are the responsible property owner.”
Five letters went to owners of vehicles that were either “junk,” or had expired license plates.
Grime cites zoning law, which states, “It shall be unlawful to park or keep any unlicensed or disabled motor vehicle, or any part thereof, except as provided in section 152.074, in any district, except by permission of the Planning Commission, for a period of more than 14 days, whether or not consecutive, unless the vehicle is stored in an enclosed garage or other accessory building.”
Other April Letters
Grime issued a letter to a property owner in April, pointing out tires stored outside on a property. She noted rainwater can collect in tires, which creates a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
She cites the zoning ordinance, which states dwelling structures and their premises “shall be maintained free from sources of breeding, harborage, and infestation by insects, vermin or rodents.”
She told the owner to address the problem soon.
Another letter concerned a property where a pool was removed, but a hole remained, along with remnants of the pool.
She sites zoning law which states owners of a premises are not allowed to maintain the exterior of a property “in any condition which deteriorates or debases the appearance of the neighborhood; or creates a fire, safety or health hazard, or which is a public nuisance.”
She gave the owner until May 1 to fill in the hole and seed the area.
Grime cites the same portion of the zoning law in a letter to a property owner about a fence, citing a subsection dealing with “broken or dilapidated fences, walls, or other structures.”
During April, Grime sent one letter to a property owner about a camper parked in a driveway.
The zoning law requires recreational vehicles to be parked three feet behind the front of a house, except for loading and unloading.
During May, Grime sent five letters concerning tall grass and weeds. In three of the cases, the property owners were given three days to mow the grass.
There were two letters about unlicensed vehicles. Both owners had received letters the previous month, and had missed deadlines to move the vehicles.
There was a letter about the property where a swimming pool had been removed. The letter told the owner there is now water standing where the pool was. The owner was given a week to resolve the problem.
One letter was sent about a temporary sign. Grime told the property owner the sign had been in place over 60 days.