Thursday, June 5, 2003

Apartment owner, county face off

By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MONROE - Butler County health inspectors Wednesday began investigating complaints of dead animals, backed-up sewers and potentially dangerous mold infestations at this city's largest apartment complex.And city officials continued to counter claims by the apartments' owner, Phoenix-based Exeter Management, that an agreement to pay off a $20,000-plus water bill had been negotiated with the city.

Earlier this week residents at the 140-unit Monroe Terrace and Old Street Terrace apartment complexes were alarmed to find water and sewer disconnect notices on some of their doors. About 60 of the 140 units are occupied.

Officials with Exeter, which bought the apartment complex last year, claimed an agreement had been worked out, but acting City Manager William Brock reiterated Wednesday that no communication to that effect has come to city officials' notice.

"We sent them a certified letter in early May informing them that if we didn't receive payment from them we'll have to shut off the water on June 12," said Brock.

"At this point we're on track to shut it off" unless Exeter officials pay at least $14,000 to the city water department.

"We're in a wait-and-see mode," he said.

Exeter officials did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday."It's deplorable," said Patricia Burg, director of the Butler County Health Department, after seeing some of the apartments.

Burg said her department will be conducting more investigations, but her initial concerns include plumbing and storm water back-ups, wild cats possibly infected with rabies, dead animals under some apartments and "noxious odors coming up into the apartments through air vents."

Today city fire inspectors will begin investigating the apartment complex in response to some tenants' complaints of faulty electrical outlets and wiring that they fear are fire and safety hazards, said Fire Chief Mark Neu.

Tenant Sharon Pondo said she is "disgusted and disheartened" by what she claims is the lack of timely response by the management company to complaints of dead animals under some apartment buildings, mold infestations and chronic maintenance problems.

"Where's the concern for the residents' health? Where's the maintenance? We have families here with small children," said Pondo.


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