Letson pleads not guilty in housing case

WARREN – State Rep. Thomas Letson entered a written plea of not guilty Wednesday in response to city building department officials charging him last week with violating city zoning codes.

The city claims a house that Letson owns at 3171 Foster Drive N.E. is being used as a “sober house.”

Letson, D-Warren, filed the written plea, asking that a personal bond be set by Warren Municipal Judge Terry Ivanchak. The plea headed off a court appearance for the state official.

A pre-trial in the misdemeanor case will be set later either in front of a judge or a magistrate.

Letson inherited the house from his parents in June and entered into a lease agreement with two men who use it to help those recovering from addictions, according to reports.

According to the court filing, Letson “did occupy or allowed to be occupied the aforementioned property as other than permitted use in Residential A, which allows for single-family homes, house or dwelling.”

The issue came to a head recently after several residents in the area complained.

Earlier this month, a councilman presented 21 letters to a zoning board meeting in which residents were able to voice their concerns about the property’s use. One neighbor claimed at the hearing there is evidence of drug use in and around the house, increased traffic, and disturbances at the home.

Letson refuted this claim during the meeting, saying residents are routinely tested for drugs and alcohol as a condition of their housing. He said alcohol is strictly prohibited at the home.

Letson may be charged no less than $100 per day and no more than $500 per day for each day the house is under violation, according to the court document.