Closed grocery store now a nuisance in Lafayette

By Heather Rutz

June 15, 2014

LAFAYETTE — The Allen County Public Health Board is dealing with a nuisance in the form of a closed grocery store, but may not have a clear idea of who owns the building.

On Friday, the board voted to give the owners of 311 N. Washington St., formerly Clum’s Gas & Grocery, 14 days to remove food, clean and secure the building before they face more serious action from the Allen County Public Health Board.

The health board had been sending notices about the problems to Clum’s Enterprises LLC and Bryan and Barbara Clum, the listed owners of building.

However, Bryan Clum said he no longer owns the building. He previously filed for bankruptcy and now the building is owned by a bank, which has not maintained the property, he said.

Allen County Public Health became involved after Village Council members requested an inspection. The business closed four years ago. Recently it has become a nuisance, said Bill Kelly, environmental health director with the health department.

The building is no longer secure, Kelly said. A rear entrance has been opened, and the front doors and windows have been broken. Inside, snack food and drinks there from when the business was open remain, scattered on the floor. Also, standing water is providing a breeding ground for mosquitoes, Kelly said.

The store lost business soon after Allen East School District moved its buildings to another location, Kelly said. The business is located at the north edge of the village, near Napoleon Road, east of state Route 81.

At the health board meeting, Kelly said his office was contacted by the village May 16 and conducted an investigation. Village officials believed youth had broken into the building or were in the building after someone else broke in, Kelly said.

After health officials conducted an investigation, Kelly sent the Clums a letter by certified mail, which was not signed for and returned by the post office. The health department then sent a second letter with a certificate of mailing, a step below certified mail that does not require a signature. The letter was delivered to the address to which the health department sent it.

On Friday, the health department left a letter for the Clums on their home door. Bryan Clum said he is supplying paperwork to the health department indicating he no longer owns the building and cannot respond to the complaint.

If the building is not cleaned and secured, Allen County Public Health can file charges in Lima Municipal Court. The board can also have the building cleaned and secured, and charge the owners for the work. If that were not paid, the charges would be placed on the property taxes.