Rittman targets abandoned house used as meth lab for demolition

RITTMAN -- A Liberty Street home where there were two methamphetamine lab busts last year is being targeted for demolition by the city manager.

Police officers, drug agents and firefighters responded to the 41 Liberty St. address twice within the span of a week in April 2012, with the Rittman Fire Department having to put out a fire on the second event. A total of five people were arrested on April 4 and April 10.

City Manager Larry Boggs told council Monday he has received a petition from residents about the house, which has remained boarded and vacant since April 10, because nothing has been done about it.

"It will be difficult," Boggs said about getting to the point where the house can be demolished. There are two banks involved, and there potentially could be other legal proceedings concerning the property, Boggs indicated.

City Law Director Kevin Bower and Boggs were expected to meet Wednesday to determine the best way forward.

After the two incidents last year, Boggs charged the owners nearly $5,900 to cover the city's costs for the response and clean-up efforts. The charges were for police, fire, emergency medical squad and water and utility department workers for both calls, Boggs said. When the costs went unpaid, the city manager placed a lien on the property, which the Wayne County Auditor's Office has valued at $71,900.

When Medway Drug Enforcement Agency senior agent Don Hall neutralized the site April 10, he discovered multiple chemicals used to make the drug. What he found was consistent with a one-pot meth cooker. At the time, Hall said he believed one of the chemicals used to make the drug reacted with some moisture and ignited.

When Hall neutralizes a site, he said he posts a sign based on federal law stating a clandestine drug lab was discovered at the address and that residual contamination might remain.

Boggs is hopeful after meeting with Bower, he will have a document to send to all interested parties informing them on a certain date the city will move to demolish the structure, unless there are any objections.

Boggs also plans to take the site to the Wayne County committee that selects properties to be demolished as part of the Moving Ohio Forward program.

Reporter Bobby Warren can be reached at 330-287-1639 or bwarren@the-daily-record.com. He is @BobbyWarrenTDR on Twitter.

By BOBBY WARRENStaff Writer Published: March 15, 2013 4:00AM

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