Controversial Properties Delayed at Code Board, Neighbors Decry Peaselburg House

Fifteen properties in Botany Hills (formerly known as West Covington) that are slated to be torn down to make way for a development and were the point of controversy after a City Commissioner posted pictures of them online were not discussed at Wednesday's meeting of Covington's code enforcement board. The properties were cited for code violations following Commissioner Steve Frank's posting of the photos prompting a visit to the site by City Manager Larry Klein and City Solicitor Frank Warnock which produced more photos that were shared by Frank online. Both instances of photo sharing instigated heated exchanged between Frank and developer Wes Bittlinger who contended that the properties were going to be torn down in the coming weeks. 
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At Wednesday's meeting, the Botany Hills properties were last on the docket and after an hour of other cases Bittlinger and his partners' properties were called. Two code enforcement board members recused themselves for unannounced reasons and the board's legal representation, Jeff Otis, also recused himself because of dealings he has had with Mount Martre, LLC as legal counsel to the City of Ludlow. Mount Martre, LLC is the partnership's business name. Frank Warnock was to take over as legal counsel for the Botany Hills properties' case but he was handed a stack of documents only moments before it was to begin and Otis announced that it would not be fair to proceed since Warnock had not had a proper amount of time to review them. The case was postponed to October 10. Meanwhile, ten of the properties have been razed and five others will likely be removed by the next date with code enforcement.
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City negotiating purchase of Peaselburg land
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A piece of vacant land on Rays Lane has been a point of contention among its Peaselburg neighbors for years since it is apparently the source of serious flooding each time a heavy rain comes to town. Owner Kevin Short explained that he has been in negotiations with the City of Covington on transferring the property to the city, a point confirmed by City Solicitor Frank Warnock. "We are very aware of the concerns of the neighbors who live there and we hear them loud and clear," Warnock said. "The ultimate goal of city staff is to remediate the problem." 
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Neighbor Susan Barnett said she would view the city's purchase of the land as a positive development. "The city dug out an extremely large trench and thanks to the city I did not have flooding this year. It went into the streets as we requested," she said. "If it weren't for the city I'd be holding my breath (every time it rains). For the first time I didn't have sheets of water coming into my yard."
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Absentee property owner tearfully criticized by neighbor
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Another Peaselburg property was also the subject of a hearing at Wednesday's meeting. 409 Hawthorne Street was cited for various reasons including excess garbage and furniture being left outside. The property is owned by Radcliff, KY-based Case Management and managed by Jerry Nickeson on the other side of the state, both far from Covington. Dottie Roedig lives next door to the property and she sees the problem as bigger than a few code violations. "I would buy the property if the city would condemn it and tear it down," she said. Kenton County property records show that the property is owned by Blades Properties which is also based in Radcliffe and also owned by Donald Case. According to a phone conversation between Nickeson and the code enforcement department that was relayed during Wednesday's meeting, Case could not attend because he is sick with brain cancer. 
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Roedig, who has lived next door for thirty-two years has spent twenty-six of them angry with Case who rents the property. "I'm tired of Case Management. He bought that house in 1986 for eight-thousand dollars and if they put five-thousand into it they're lucky," she said, tearing up. "It's a piece of shit. I will have to give my house away." The problem for neighbors appears to be a steady line of unruly tenants who are not policed by the property's owner. Larry Gleitz who lives with Roedig also expressed his unhappiness.
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"Code violations have been ongoing, we've been calling code enforcement for years," Gleitz said. "All they do is call Mr. Case and nothing is done. They leave their garbage on the street or park it between our porches and we have to smell that because our houses are only four feet apart. Gleitz added that mattresses were piled up on the side of the house as well as an old couch and that over the summer they had to deal with a dilapidated swimming pool, all attracting mosquitoes to their area. "The cops had to come to have the couch put out and our gutters were destroyed in the process. We'd love to see the tenant no longer being there because they have no respect for civil law." Gleitz also said that his home was hit with eggs recently. 
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Susan Barnett runs the block watch in the neighborhood and said there has not been a meeting in which the property in question did not make its way to the block watch's agenda for the past eighteen to twenty-four months. 
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The code enforcement board agreed to give Case an extension and requested that he appear at the next meeting on September 26. Board member Greg Manning explained that the code enforcement board only has the authority to address code violations and nothing else. Fritz Kuhlman, another member of the board, hopes that they show more authority soon. "We as a board are trying to become more forceful in our desire to enforce the code and I would suggest we've been relatively lenient in the past and we're not going to be that way anymore. Property ownership is a privilege and it requires a financial commitment and it also requires responsibility to your neighbors and your community. (Case) has a management company and the fact that he is not compliant has no excuses whatsoever. It's the landlord's responsibility to police his tenants."

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