Clay Township trustees met with Highland County Commissioners on Wednesday to discuss a property owned by a woman who is currently under indictment on multiple charges.
Trustee Brett Glover described the SR 134 property as a “nightmare,” which has trash bags and hundreds of water-filled tires “from one end to another.”
Glover said the trustees have called the Highland County Sheriff’s Office about the property and have been told that the owners have a 90-day clean-up period. Since then, the owner has been arrested.
Highland County Prosecutor Anneka Collins identified the owner as Cindy L. Hackney, 37, Mount Orab.
The Times-Gazette previously reported that Hackney was indicted earlier this week on five counts of receiving stolen property, which include four fourth-degree felonies and one misdemeanor.
Hackney also faces a charge of fifth-degree felony obstructing justice. As previously reported, she was charged after allegedly telling HCSO deputies that a suspect was not in her residence. Later, that suspect was found “jumping off the second story roof,” as stated in an affidavit.
That charge has not yet been bound over to Highland County Common Pleas Court, according to Hillsboro Municipal Court records. Hackney was previously scheduled for a preliminary hearing in municipal court last month. However, that hearing was rescheduled so that she could complete a competency evaluation. A review is set for Nov. 19.
Municipal court records also show that Hackney has a pending charge for first-degree misdemeanor receiving stolen property. That charge came a few days prior to her obstructing justice charge.
Collins also said Wednesday that Hackney’s property is co-owned by a relative, who lives in Indiana. She added that the relatative is “not a viable option” for addressing the issues at the property.
Collins also said that the common pleas court has found the property to be a public health nuisance. If it is not cleaned, the owner can be held in contempt.
Collins then told the trustees they have another option for cleaning up the property. She said that as trustees they could declare the property a nuisance and clean it themselves. The cost of cleaning it would then be applied to the property owner’s taxes “to be reimbursed, if it’s ever paid,” Collins said.
“What we’d like to do is have it cleaned up,” Glover said. He asked who the trustees should contact to get on the property. Collins said that if they want to declare it a nuisance, she would meet with them to address all of the steps.
Teresa Campbell, a Clay Township resident, then asked, “Where’s our guarantee that this isn’t going to come back?”
While Collins said she could not provide a guarantee, she suggested that the trustees file a nuisance sooner if similar conditions arise again.
Clay Township resident Howard Wilus told commissioners, “I didn’t put my garden out last year because of the mosquitoes” resulting from the property’s condition.
He then described the property as a “haven for criminal elements.”
“I’d like to see a constable in every township,” Wilus said. He added that some laws seem to hurt “honest people” and asked how laws could be changed.
Collins said that if anyone wants a law changed, they have to contact state legislators. She added that townships can hire their own constables; however, none within the county are financially able to do so.
She added that with the charges Hackney is facing, the judge will not be allowed to send her to prison if she is found guilty. Because they are her first felony charges, and because they are low-level felonies, Hackney will be placed on probation.
“That’s the law,” Collins said.
“I genuinely hope that you change that law,” Collins told Wilus.
She added that with Hackney’s ongoing cases, “We do have to make sure we’re not trampling her rights either.”
Also present on Wednesday were trustees Jim Massey and Kenneth Bohl, as well as residents Melanie Hawk and Rob Diskete and Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner.
Reach Sarah Allen at 937-393-3456, ext. 1680, or on Twitter @SarahAllenHTG.