Wellington, Ohio couple surrounded by ODOT construction project, concerned about their health

ODOT bought up and cleared their neighbors houses

WELLINGTON, Ohio - Dawn and Mike Ridenour of Wellington, Ohio have been dealing with a noisy neighbor for the past two weeks, a $21.3 million construction project being led by the Ohio Department of Transportation.

ODOT heavy equipment took down all of their neighbors' homes on their side of Clay Street in early May, but left their home to border the massive railroad underpass project, that is set to continue through Sept. 2014.

ODOT spent millions to acquire multiple properties in the neighborhood, but refused to buy the Ridenours' property, instead electing to build around the small one-story home.

Dawn Ridenour, who suffers from epilepsy, showed NewsChannel5 a letter from her doctor that indicates the stress from the noise, dirt, and construction debris may have a big impact on her health.

"What used to be my neighbor's [house] is now construction, and dirt. It's hard to come home to all the nonsense because why would anybody want to live here," said Ridenour. "It's hard to function knowing that your house is supposed to be your safe place and it's not."

Ridenour showed NewsChannel5 the huge mounds of dirt that have be built-up in her backyard, and on the east side of her home. Heavy equipment is parked everywhere, and is in motion less than 200 feet from her doorstep four days a week.

Ridenour claims her doctor was forced to increase her medication due to the ongoing construction project.

Mike Ridenour told NewsChannel5 ODOT took him to Lorain County Court, and received a judgment allowing it to purchase a small easement for $1,500 on his property, for the huge Route 58 railroad underpass, instead of buying his home.

"Would they let me take control of their property and just destroy everything around here for $1,500,' said Ridenour. "Would they live here?"

"They don't care, I've called them and it's like hey, we'll get back with you on that, and they don't. They don't care cause it's not them, how many of them would trade spots."

NewsChannel5 contacted Wellington Mayor Barb O'Keefe about this situation. The mayor confirmed she continues to talk with ODOT about what can be done to help the Ridenour family.

Meanwhile, ODOT spokeswoman Christine Myers issued the following statement in response to our story:

"The Ohio Department of Transportation, District 3 was made aware of this situation shortly after construction began.  Potential remedies to this situation have been examined and discussed, and the terms of a settlement reached in the Lorain County Court of Common Pleas have been reviewed."

"We do share in the concerns expressed by the property owner. However, ODOT is required by law to purchase only the amount of property that is needed for a project. This law is in place to protect the rights of the property owners, as well as ensure the responsible investment of taxpayer funds."

"We will continue to closely monitor the situation throughout construction."

The response from ODOT is little relief for Dawn Ridenour, who isn't sure how much longer she'll be able to cope with the huge trucks that continue to rattle her small home.

"I can't sell my property, this project has made it virtually worthless," explained Ridenour. "Why should the health of my husband and I be put at risk because ODOT refuses to do the right thing."

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