Nelsonville Condemns Rental Apartments

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An apartment building that was the subject of a search warrant obtained by a fire inspector has been condemned by the city.

Nelsonville City Manager Mark Hall issued a condemnation notice Wednesday for the property at 615 E. Canal St./616 Jackson St. The notice states that the property is unsafe, contains unsafe equipment and is unfit for human occupancy. The notice gives the owner, Bryon Graf II, 30 days get the tenants out of the property.

The Messenger was unable to reach Graf by telephone Friday, and he did not immediately respond to an email.

The building is the former 33 Drive Thru, which has been converted to five apartments, and there is an attached house that is a duplex, according to city Code Enforcement Director Steve Pierson.

On Nov. 1, an administrative search warrant was executed at the property.

The warrant was obtained by Albert Harry Barber III, Nelsonville fire safety inspector.

In his application for the warrant, Barber states that the property appears to have undergone significant interior construction “that may have not only changed the structure’s occupancy classification, but created a more dangerous environment in the case of a fire or emergency and is in violation of the Ohio Fire Code and Ohio Building Code.”

According to Barber, attempts were made to gain entry to the structure, but entry was denied.

“The property owner stated that I would have to get a warrant and that he would sue,” Barber states in the application.

A warrant to conduct an administrative search was issued by Athens County Common Pleas Judge Robert Stewart.

A report written by Barber after the inspection states the property lacks fire separation walls between the units, has non-compliant smoke detectors installed, has no emergency escape where required and has multiple electrical violations.

Pierson said the city is considering filing minor misdemeanor charges on the grounds that Graf failed to get a conditional use permit to create a residential use in a downtown commercial zone and failed to get a permit for development in a flood hazard zone.