CAMDEN — Camden Village Council discussed property management issues and enforcement of village ordinances during its regularly scheduled meeting Thursday, June 18.
Fiscal officer Becky Wilson announced the order prohibiting Ohio villages from disconnecting essential utilities due to non-payment in light of the COVID-19 pandemic — issued by Gov. Mike DeWine in March of this year — will expire July 10.
Council member Debbie Hickman made a motion to reinstate trash collection and disconnect fees in July as well. The measure was approved by unanimous vote.
Michelle Lund and Angie McKnight updated council on their ongoing efforts to improve conditions at the Quail Creek Mobile Home Park in Camden. Lund and McKnight’s company, McLund Enterprises, reportedly purchased the park in April 2019.
“It’s been a fun 15-month-or-so ride,” said Lund, who said she has “served as a transformation expert for very large companies.”
“Everything about making something better is what energizes me,” Lund told the assembled board members.
Lund and McKnight claimed to have reestablished the community’s homeowners’ association, and said they were currently pursuing measures to try and gain access to poorly maintained or abandoned lots within the park that are owned by other parties.
“There’s a hundred lots in there that we can’t even touch, because people own those lots,” Lund said.
“There’s an abandoned trailer sitting on land that we own,” Lund continued, claiming the more than $12,000 cost of purchasing the trailer, destroying it and paying back taxes had so far proven prohibitive.
Local business owner Mary Bullen suggested writing a letter asking that the back taxes be eliminated.
“Talk about how it’s affecting you economically,” Bullen said. “The community, the blight, the whole nine yards.”
Councilman Jeff Steele was more blunt.
“Take it up to Preble County and drop it off at the courthouse,” Steele said.
Council seemed appreciative of the work Lund and McKnight had done so far.
“I just drove through before the meeting, and I can see an improvement since the last time I was there,” councilman Kelly Doran said.
Sgt. David Stemp of the Camden Police Department agreed.
“We don’t see a lot of the problems that we used to see,” Stemp said. “I used to spend most of my weekends down there.”
Doran agreed, saying the mobile home community had at one time accounted for around 30 percent of calls to Camden Police. Problems usually involved people squatting in abandoned trailers, according to Stemp, an issue which has since been improved upon.
Lund also expressed interest in “re-igniting” the local Neighborhood Watch. Stemp advised her to gather any interested parties together so they could meet with police.
“I think there’s already a neighborhood watch – it’s just very informal,” Doran joked. Doran also suggested that McLund pay the village to have a Camden police officer conduct additional patrols in the park, in an arrangement similar to that between local school districts and school resource officers.
“There are some fantastic, amazing people in that park,” McKnight said. “And we’re putting in the time so people know that we’re there, and concerned, and willing to help.”
Also during Thursday’s meeting:
Local trucking company owner Donald Vance complained that he’d received a letter from the village labeling his property “a junkyard.” Vance felt that village officials should have approached him personally before issuing a letter.
“That would’ve been nice two or three weeks ago,” Vance said.
Mayor Karen Moss was sympathetic to Vance’s concerns.
“I understand procedure, but one of the things I feel our town is not hitting the mark on is that personal contact,” Moss said. “If it were me, I wouldn’t want the first contact I have to be a letter.”
Village administrator Rusty Wilson didn’t feel this approach was feasible, however.
“I don’t have the time to go door-to-door and find out everybody’s situation,” Wilson said.
Hickman agreed, saying Rusty was “extremely busy.” Councilman Doran expressed similar sentiments.
“If the Mayor or someone wants to be the person to go door-to-door, then let’s sign up some volunteers,” Doran said.
Finally, Doran suggested adopting an ordinance requiring trash cans to be set out at the curb a certain number of hours before pick-up and retrieved a certain number of hours later, and also requiring cans to not be overstuffed and to have a lid.
“The lid has to be able to close. That’s what the lid is for,” Doran said. “You see it perpetually out at the curb, and it’s ridiculous.”
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @improperenglish