‘Nuisance’ apartments face lawsuit from city

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INDIANAPOLIS – City officials claim deteriorating conditions at two apartment complexes have led to more than 3,200 calls to police since 2008.

The problems are so bad that the city prosecutor filed public nuisance lawsuits against the owners of those apartments.

“It’s just not safe for children,” said Latoya Ammons, a mother of three who rents an apartment with her mother at La Esmeralda Apartments.

She told Fox 59 that she’s concerned about mold, electrical outlets that give off a smoke odor and the documented violence outside her door.

“There are break-ins, robberies, homicides and sexual assaults. They are very serious crimes that you’ve got to stop,” said City Prosecutor Samantha Dewester.

Dewester said the owner of the property was asked to pay $347,000 in fines by the Indianapolis Housing Authority due to violations of Section 8 standards in 2012.

“I don’t know what they’re talking about,” the on-site manager told Fox 59 after looking at the documented police runs. He declined a formal on-camera interview.

Since 2008, there have been 1,584 runs and 477 reports, according to records from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

“If we can get those cleaned up, we can change the environment on the inside,” said IMPD Commander Brian Mahone of the Northwest District.

The owner of nearby Heather Ridge Apartments has also been sued by the city. Together, the complexes are the root of more than 200 public health and code enforcement investigations in recent years.

“You have property owners that are ignoring these conditions,” said Adam Baker with the Indianapolis Department of Code Enforcement.

The owner of Heather Ridge Apartments would only respond by saying he has been repairing code violations and banning troublemakers. He also declined a formal interview. Records indicate there have been 1,628 IMPD runs to the property since 2008. IMPD has filed 473 reports.

“We don’t respond just to the nuisance properties. We’re accountable to everyone in the city, and there are 800,000 people in our city,” said Dewester.

“It’s just like you’re scarred, so you just want to move on to something better,” said Ammons.

A court date has been set for Sept. 30.

Dewester said she will seek financial damages and ask for mandatory safety improvements like surveillance cameras and additional outdoor lighting.

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