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City, state sue for demolition costs

The city of Springfield and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office have sued an out-of-state property owner they allege has refused to reimburse the city for the demolition of three structures that weren’t up to code.

According to Clark County Common Pleas Court documents, the lawsuit was filed against Johncar Investments of California to reclaim more than $13,700 in demolition costs for properties at 1321-1323 Mound St., 640 W. Euclid Ave. and 21-23 E. Grand Ave.

Johncar Investments couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday evening.

The city’s Code Enforcement Division cited the company over several years for violations of its property maintenance codes, and ordered it to repair or demolish those structures, according to court documents.

But despite the notices, the owner took no action to address the issues or demolish the properties, according to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office.

It’s the first time the attorney general’s office has helped the city collect demolition costs, city Law Director Jerry Strozdas said, but not the first time the city has pursued reimbursement through the courts.

He didn’t have a dollar amount late Wednesday afternoon of how much city and grant money it spends on removing houses deemed not in compliance with codes.

“Often times those things are just very difficult to collect,” Strozdas said. “(The attorney general’s office) believes that they have resources that can help identify these owners and which ones have a reasonable chance of being collected.”

Not all abandoned properties are the result of the housing crisis or banking practices, DeWine said in a statement.

“There are occasionally egregious cases where negligent property owners have contributed to this problem and should be held liable for these demolition costs, instead of their neighbors and fellow taxpayers,” he said. “This filing represents three such egregious cases.”

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