Saturday, August 10, 2002

Apartment inspection to resume

W. Chester officials say mold cleanup 'on track'

By Michael D. Clark,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WEST CHESTER TWP. — After barring them from their property, owners of one of Greater Cincinnati's largest apartment complexes this week met with Butler County health officials to discuss how best to address potentially harmful mold problems.

        Owners of Woodbridge on the Lake, which has more than 1,000 residents in its 492-unit apartment complex off Cincinnati-Dayton Road, had initially cooperated with Butler County Health Department officials in June when that department, and West Chester's Planning and Zoning office, began inspections of vacant Woodbridge apartments.

        The Enquirer reported that those inspections, according to county and West Chester officials, revealed evidence of what they believed may be potentially toxic mold. But soon after, Metro Prop Realty Inc., which owns and operates Woodbridge, “officially uninvited” county health officials from the property and further inspections, the officials said.

        Last week, however, Metro Prop officials called Butler County Health Department Director Patricia Burg and asked for a meeting at the department's office. And Thursday, they were joined there by a West Chester zoning official.

        Ms. Burg said health officials have been re-invited onto the property and that they will again accompany West Chester officials on apartment inspections beginning next week.

        “They said they wanted to work with us, and that things had gotten off track,” said Ms. Burg. “I think the meeting went very well.”

        “What I hope we can do is be there in a supportive role for the residents,” she said. She added that her office and Metro Prop are also planning to co-write a letter of explanation about the mold removal process that is now being done by the owners. The letter would likely be distributed to residents by the end of next week.Bruce Hellman, president of Metro Prop, described the talks as going well and said he now plans to work closely with health officials.

        “The safety of our residents is our first concern,” said Mr. Hellman.

        Barry Tiffany, code enforcement officer for West Chester Planning and Zoning office, also attended the meeting, and said Metro Prop's efforts to remove mold and repair structural and plumbing damage was “on track.”

        “Major pockets of mold are being remediated. We expect to finish all of our initial inspections within six weeks,” said Mr. Tiffany.

        Metro Prop has not been cited for any building code violations in the 35-year-old complex it purchased in March.


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