Neighbours Are Up In Arms

LdyLunatic

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Ontario
Sep 2006



by Cathy Dobson, The Observer,
Former Dope-growing House Is An 'Eyesore' That Is Devaluing Homes: Residents

In a neighbourhood where lawns are carefully manicured and house values are well over a quarter million dollars, the bedraggled appearance of 1344 Daley really bothers the neighbours.

The house hasn't been inhabited since 2004 when its owners were arrested in a police raid and charged with operating a million dollar grow operation. Wen Mei Lin, Xiu Tuan Shi, Ai Zhu Wang and Yun Biao Zheng were convicted of marijuana offences and received varying sentences.

Police found more than 1,300 marijuana plants at the Daley address in the city's north-end and at a second house on Seneca Court in upscale College Park.

In the basement of both homes, a 12-inch hole had been drilled into the foundation so that the hydro meter could be bypassed for the high-powered operation. An estimated $9,000 in electricity was stolen from Bluewater Power.

The marijuana growers also made alterations to the houses to vent odours out the chimneys.

It took time for the attractive two-storey brick house on Daley to show signs of neglect and, when it did, neighbours were told to wait until the court case wrapped up.

That finally happened last week when four residents who had lived at the two houses, were found guilty and received jail time or house arrest.

In the meantime, taxes and the mortgage weren't paid at Daley. The bank took over property management but the house continued to deteriorate.

"It's an eyesore and we're worried vagrants might be attracted," says Kathy King who lives around the corner.

"When they moved in there, we noticed they had a sea container in the driveway and I remember thinking that was odd.

"But I didn't pay much attention. I never dreamed it would be a drug house," she said.

Now she's worried it will drag down area property values.

"It's just not nice for the neighbourhood," King said. "Everyone around here takes care of their properties but that garage door is sagging, the driveway is full of weeds and the shingles are curling."

A liquor bottle sits empty in the middle of the front lawn and, in the back, the deck is completely obliterated by a wild vine.

The fence and gate are falling apart and eavestroughing is in disrepair.

A single piece of paper is posted on the front window, alerting neighbours that they should contact ProCheck Home Services at a Mississauga phone number if they have any problems with the property.

ProCheck representative Debbie Rak told The Observer she has never received a single complaint about 1344 Daley Ave. in Sarnia.

"I'll get our guy there to take a look to see if there's anything that has to be done but we're waiting for direction from the bank because it's a bank takeover.

"Nothing seems out of the ordinary for a power of sale situation," Rak said.

City hall has received numerous complaints about the Daley property, dating back to 2005.

Mayor Mike Bradley says he has a 30-page file on it already.

"A grow-op is a poison pill for everyone in the neighbourhood," he said.

City staff have inspected the property to see if anything can be enforced through city bylaws, but the only problem that falls under their jurisdiction is the condition of the fence.

The city intends to have the fence repaired and charge the expense back to the owner - which is now the Bank of Montreal.

Bradley said he has tried several times to get the bank to take action but has continually been referred to ProCheck.

Most recently, he decided to bypass the local branch manager and wrote directly to Tony Comper, president and CEO of BMO Financial Group.

ProCheck has told city hall staff that there are clean-up issues at 1344 Daley Ave. of an environmental nature on the inside of the home because of contamination, according to Bradley.

A look inside the windows, shows floor coverings removed throughout the first floor and parts of the ceiling missing.

In his letter, Bradley told Comper the house is "a major eyesore" and requires roof and general repairs to the exterior.

Large cities have had to deal with "grow-op" houses for some time but the problem is relatively new to Sarnia, Bradley said.

Kathy King thinks people should be aware that one could be operating in their neighbourhood.

"The windows are mildewed and the humidity obviously caused damage," she said. "After the arrests, we all said, 'Dahhhhh ... why didn't we figure it out?"
 

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