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City Takes Woodland Meadows to Court

The City of Columbus is taking the owners of Woodland Meadows apartment complex to court. The city filed a complaint today in Environmental Court demanding that the 122 buildings in east Columbus be properly maintained or torn down.

People living near the 52 acre complex say they steer clear of the property because they're afraid. One woman says she hears smoke alarms going off in the middle of the night.

"It gets scary just living around it. It's pitch black. It's about to be a cemetery - for real. Every other night something's going on out there."

An ice storm in 2004 left parts of the complex severely damaged. The last tenants were relocated this past August. In contrast to neighboring Bexley, the Defense Supply Center and the airport, Woodland Meadows, according to Mayor Coleman, is dragging property values down. It's a magnet for crime, he says, with more than 700 police and fire calls in the past 12 months.

"There were five aggravated assaults, six burglaries, four auto thefts, one felony theft, six malicious destruction of property counts, one homicide - we found a body here."

Coleman says the owners of Woodland Meadows have continually stalled efforts to bring the property up to code. He says the city has set aside $2 million for demolition if the owners refuse to do it.

A few residents wonder why the city has not acted more quickly. But Dorothy Lupo of the North Eastmoor block watch association says today's filing brings a glimmer of hope.

"For the first time in 5 years there's a bright light coming," she said.