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The owner of a Franklin Avenue home is asking the city of Kent to hold off on the demolition process, claiming neighbors have changed the locks and prevented the rehabilitation of the property.
Property owner Cho-Oyu Ltd., represented by Ravenna attorney Diana Prehn, has asked the Kent Board of Zoning Appeals to delay any action by the city on the property at 509 Franklin Ave. until four months after the ongoing lawsuit concludes. The board is scheduled to hear the case Monday.
According to city records, the home meets two requirements for a "blighted property" under the Ohio Revised Code: The structure is vacant or abandoned and the water has been shut off since August 2011 or before. The city notified the owner of these violations, and the potential demolition, in a Feb. 12 letter.
In its appeal, Cho-Oyu alleges neighboring property owners have used the structure without permission and changed the locks, preventing the owner from rehabilitating the property.
Cho-Oyu filed a lawsuit in March against Dorothy Spindler, John K. Spindler and their business, Home Place Used Goods, which is located at 501 Franklin Ave.
The suit alleges the Spindlers are using the house at 509 Franklin Ave. despite not having a rental agreement with Cho-Oyu. It also alleges the Spindlers have "unlawfully and forcibly" prevented the plaintiff from accessing the property, which has led to $15,000 in damages.
Antonios Scavdis Jr., attorney for the Spindlers, said his clients agreed at an eviction hearing at Portage County Municipal Court in Kent on Monday that they would not occupy the neighboring property, but added they did not agree with the version of events presented in Cho-Oyu's lawsuit.
"We filed an answer (Monday) denying most of the allegations in the complaint," Scavdis said.
He said a resolution has not been reached regarding any potential payment for damages.
According to Portage County Court records, the Kent Police Department charged John K. Spindler with a felony burglary for an alleged criminal act on Cho-Oyu's property in December. The burglary charge was dismissed after he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of aggravated trespassing in January.
Judge Barbara Oswick sentenced John K. Spindler to 180 days in jail, but suspended the sentence on the condition that he commit no violations of the law for one year.
Cho-Oyu's appeal of the demolition process states that an extension on the demolition date would allow the owner to make the necessary repairs to the house to rent it to a new occupant.
The city sent multiple letters to the owner of the property after an early-morning fire on the premises on April 18, 2007 caused $30,000 in damages and left the structure "open to the elements," according to city records. The applicant took out a permit in late 2008 to make repairs on the property.
The city's building department informed the owner in 2009 that the building would be condemned and could be subject to demolition. In early 2011, the owner requested another permit for repairs, and an inspection of the building's frame was performed and approved in March 2011.
According to city records, no further work on the house had been completed since the city sent the demolition notice this February.
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