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‘Unreasonable Amount’ of Crime Reported at Hidden Village Apartments

Nuisance declaration considered, however the mayor says it’s a “tricky situation” because Lakewood is currently defending a 2008 lawsuit brought by the owners of the property.

The Hidden Village Apartments, the location of a juvenile re-entry program on Clifton Boulevard, is again under the microscope of city officials concerned with reports of illegal activity at the complex.

Lakewood Mayor Michael Summers said recently that there “has been an unreasonable amount of felony activity there.” 

Typically, when there are multiple felony complaints at a specific property, the city would file an official nuisance declaration and make the property owners pay for future police visits.

However, Summers said this case is a “tricky situation,” because the filed by the owners of the complex, who allege Fair Housing Act violations as well as civil rights abuses stemming from the re-entry program.

The Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry oversees the juvenile re-entry program.

Summers said the city has been reluctant to move forward with a nuisance complaint against the property owner, Hidden Village, LLC.

“The lawsuit paralyzed the city’s ability to take normal actions,” he said. “When (the complaints are) sporadic, it’s easy to take a more cautious approach because of the pending legislation. But when it becomes more intense as it has been, I have an obligation as public safety director to do something.”

Kevin Butler, the city’s law director, said the number of police visits at the property at 11849 Clifton Boulevard has “gotten out of hand,” but did not immediately have a list of the complaints. 

“It’s a delicate situation because we’re in the middle of litigation,” he said. “Any type of enforcement action we take has got to be taken very thoughtfully.”

A 2008 city ordinance requires only two complaints to deem a property a nuisance — meaning that once a property is deemed a nuisance, the owners are sent a bill for each future visit by the police department.

“We haven’t declared it a nuisance property,” Butler said. “If anyone’s using the term ‘nuisance’ to describe this property, it’s being used colloquially, not in the legal sense.”

However, city has filed several building correction notices against the property. Hidden Village has complied.

“Any type of enforcement action we take with respect to this property, we get the impression that it’s being viewed as a discriminatory act,” Butler said. “And it’s most certainly not a discriminatory act — we’re just trying to enforce the law.”

Lawsuit drags on

The charges in the lawsuit stem from a May 2007 inspection at the property, that the lawsuit alleges was a raid based on race. The lawsuit — one of the longest standing in the — was filed in December 2008.

“Nobody was denied housing, nobody was asked to leave, and no one was evicted. In fact they are still there today,” Summers said earlier this week.

According to LoveLakewood.com, the lawsuit was scheduled for an August jury trial in a Youngstown federal courtroom. It has been postponed while the city appeals one of the judge’s pre-trial rulings.

Summers said the city made an offer to settle the lawsuit, but noted that the parties are “not even in the same room.”

A ruling on the appeal is expected in 2013. 

“We’re very anxious to get this resolved,” Summers said. “Federal courts move very, very slowly.”

Joseph Kissel September 15, 2012 at 01:46 PM
That's just great. We can't even get rid of noted problem areas because of the race card. This victim mentality needs to stop. Be law abiding citizens or get out.
2wood September 15, 2012 at 04:42 PM
In addition to landlords who put themselves in the position of having to rent to the lowest common denominator, we have the various "service" entities with social support and rent/food/utility vouchers -- combining to turn Lakewood into a temporary flop house for non-contributing transients.
Sandy September 15, 2012 at 11:46 PM
It's the Steve and Michael show again.
Melinda Schwab September 16, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Wow... y'all are a trip! It is always more interesting to read the comments than the articles on here! This time though I must laugh... and who said ANYTHING about someone literally abusing animals with rocks? I am amazed how when some people cannot argue a topic with intellect that they choose to change the topic and still make themselves sound silly! Hahahahahaha!
Dexter Morgan September 16, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Nice to see Lakewood hasn't changed since I left. I thought it was bad here in the south, but at least they're open about their racism here.
Renee September 17, 2012 at 01:38 PM
I would like to know what a juvenile re-entry program is? Is this for kids who have committed some crime and are on some type of rehabilitation program?
Jane Doe September 17, 2012 at 04:39 PM
You mean to tell me that all the 'undesireables' didn't leave the city when the 'pitbull type dog' ban passed back in 2008 like council promised us? I figured the crime rate would go down to ZERO when all those gangbangers and drug dealers left with their dogs. OH THE HUMANITY
leslie September 19, 2012 at 02:55 PM
i used to live at hidden village and was a rent and bill paying citizen. the re-entry program is ran by a church and helped kids with troubled backgrounds, mostly parents that weren't involved in their lives. they were emancipated and some had jobs and all were in school. they had supervisors that lived in their building, and most of the time we saw cops there they had all the kids lined up on the curb, hands behind their heads and searching them. but mostly they came for them breaking curfew issues, playng football in the parking lot after dark. just my observations
joe blow January 20, 2013 at 06:18 PM
this place is the slum I know I live here the owner only has one thing on his mind his money.. no repairs are completed correctly, the office lady just sits on her ass all day and plays cards online she's as dimwitted as they come and the cleaning lady never seems to clean she just aimlessly wonders around the property this place is a joke! the maintence sucks ass!!!!! lazy!!!!!! can not wait to get the hell out of this place.. it's an embarassment to have people visit.. just my opinion...
Joseph Byrne June 21, 2013 at 04:50 PM
Well, you can't say that Lakewood didn't ask for it. For all the years in the past that the city and it's residents discriminated against minorities, it comes to pass that those who eventually are "allowed in" would come with some retaliatory intent. When the city was FORCED to allow section 8 housing, the floodgates were open. The snake will bite you on the buttocks if you tempt it with mis-treatment.
angelo June 23, 2013 at 06:48 PM
So Mr. Byrne let me get this straight. It is "retaliatory intent" at play here and justified retaliation at that. What a crock! Part of the mentality that avoids personal responsibility. If I'm bad it's not my fault, someone made me do it. Isn't it just as likely that current actions justify the reluctance of Lakewood citizens to welcome section 8 housing? As far as it being racial and discriminatory I can assure you that white people aren't happy when white people rob them either. When different ethnicities came to this country they also experienced discrimination, poverty and had to live collectively in substandard housing. They as many of today's minorities do worked their way out of those conditions. While living in tenaments they kept their surroundings clean and organized until they could buy their way out eventually earning the respect of the majority population. Now things are handed to people and no sense of their worth develops. There's little experience of working toward something. Everything has to be acquired instantaneously whether it's housing in a better neighborhood or possessions you can't afford.
angelo June 23, 2013 at 07:11 PM
I think it's commendable that the Lutheran Church is attempting to assist these young men toward becoming productive adults. That is if that's really what's happening there. The picture that Joe Blow paints above may be telling a different story a different story, I don't know. How effective is the program? How is it evaluated? The same could be said of Section 8. How effective is it? Is the cure worse than the problem? When Section 8 started I was working in a large community mental health facility in Toledo as a counselor. I'd refer clients to our housing specialist and they'd be placed in housing BUT under a contract. They couldn't miss counseling sessions. They had to keep up their apartments. They couldn't cause problems in the community. If they did they were out of their apartments. I doubt that still occurs. My friend who owns several Section 8 properties has to go to several of them, take the garbage out of the hallways or backyard and put it out front because his tenants refuse to. Are you kidding me! What ever happened to gratitude?

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