For years 6th Ward Councilman Derry Glenn has criticized the Lima city administration for not doing enough about vacant and substandard housing. He’s railed about houses in his ward that have been burned out or boarded up and in need of demolition. He even made blighted housing one of the central issues during his campaign to become mayor in 2010.
It turns out Glenn – a so-called champion of improving Lima’s housing stock — is all mouth, pointing the finger at the other guy when he should have been pointing it at himself.
On Thursday, the City of Lima Building Board of Appeals unanimously voted to move forward with the demolition of 218 E. Third St. — a property owned by Glenn and one the city has been trying to get the councilor to fix for years.
Lima conducted three inspections of the property. What they found was beyond a mess. The home had no water service for nine years, and there was no electric meter. Windows and doors were missing. The flooring was described as “spongy” wherever a person stepped. Water damaged the foundation, and rot accumulated in many parts of the building. Inspectors even found a used sleeping bag in the former residence, most likely from a squatter who had entered the building from an open door or window.
Simply put, the building was not safe.
City inspectors estimated the repair costs to the interior of the house at $95,000. Glenn purchased the home in 2000 for $9,000.
What’s disconcerting is Glenn has failed to take any responsibility for the condition of the house.
He has blamed the blight on a highly publicized 2008 drug raid in which an unarmed woman holding a baby was shot and killed by a police officer at the home. He contends that made it difficult to rent, which is likely true but doesn’t explain why the house was left to rot.
On other occasions he claimed he had “plans” in the works for the house. He explained he wanted to turn the dwelling into a “safehouse” in honor of Tarika Wilson, the woman who died in the drug raid. The house would be used to provide a safe place for women whose circumstances have been compromised due to homelessness or human trafficking, he said. He contended he was seeking federal grant money for the repairs to the house and claimed he had donors lined up if he couldn’t get those grants.
Then last week, Glenn cried politics, alleging that the timing of the demolition order coincided with the election year, and that the condition of the property was being used by his political opponent.
All the above are excuses. As a landlord, Glenn is responsible for the condition of the property. Its deplorable condition didn’t happen overnight. He has owned it for nearly 20 years.
What’s shameful is that Glenn uses his position as a councilman to pontificate about the city’s housing issues, yet at the same time, he’s one of the landlords who is part of the problem. We would have hoped for better from him.
The councilman has 60 days to decide whether to appeal the city’s decision in court. Such an appeal would needlessly drag things out. The city took caution to make sure Glenn was treated like any other landlord. Glenn left the city with no recourse but to seek demolition and send him the bill.