SPRINGFIELD -- A group of neighbors are banding together in vocal opposition to an alleged drug house on their street in central Springfield.
In the past couple of years, the neighbors say, the one-story green house on the 200 block of 18th Street has attracted frequent police raids and arrests, loud arguments and physical fights, and a regular flow of suspicious visitors.
But neighborhood frustration reached the boiling point over the weekend when the home's owner and main occupant, Trevor Uehlin, received a pretrial release after being charged with delivery of methamphetamine, a felony, and possessing a restricted weapon, a misdemeanor.
The charges followed a raid Thursday by Lane County's Interagency Narcotic Enforcement Team.
Four nearby homeowners have now put up signs in their yards with messages such as "No drug dealers wanted in our neighborhood" and "Meth out now."
A group of about 10 neighbors will lobby the Springfield City Council on Monday in hopes that the home can be declared a nuisance and that Uehlin can be booted from the area.
Erin Smith, who has lived right across the street from Uehlin for a decade, said she won't let her 10-year-old son play outside anymore because she's concerned that he could be "threatened," "run over" or "hit by a stray bullet."
Her husband, Riley Smith, a former City Council candidate, said he hoped the public attention from the signs "would help avoid a situation where we have to do something about this ourselves."
Rick Gregg, who has lived in the area for 27 years, said "it's a true neighborhood," one that he believes is being threatened by activity linked to the house, including a recent "late-night brawl" in the street.
The blinds were closed at Uehlin's house Tuesday and the front lawn had recently been mowed.
Reached by phone, Uehlin, 35, acknowledged that he previously sold methamphetamine at the home, but said he isn't doing so now.
He said that he understood the neighbors "assuming" that his visitors are buying or selling drugs, but said that "the foot traffic they see are just friends of mine."
Uehlin said he's open to cordially discussing any problems with neighbors, but added that two of the upset neighbors now have cameras filming his house all the time.
"That ain't right," he said.
Uehlin said he doesn't believe he will be convicted of the most recent methamphetamine charge and said that the weapon charge relates to a double-edged knife in his house that he didn't know he was legally barred from having, as a convicted felon.
He added that he's concerned about his neighbors' protests.
"I don't want to lose my home," he said.
Police records show Springfield officers have been called out to Uehlin's house 50 times since mid-2010 for disputes, fights, noise and suspicious conditions.
Uehlin has been arrested and booked into Lane County Jail 19 times since late 2010, jail logs show.
He was convicted in March 2011 on felony burglary and methamphetamine possession charges and sentenced to a total of 30 days in jail.
In April 2012, he was convicted on felony methamphetamine delivery and possession charges and sentenced to 35 days in jail.
He's also had warrants issued for parole violations at least four times since 2012.
According to court records, Uehlin's pretrial release this weekend marked the third time since March 2012 that Uehlin has been freed from the Lane County Jail because the jail lacked capacity to hold him.
Because his main charges have been felonies, Uehlin does not yet appear to have been housed in the Springfield Municipal Jail, which can only accept inmates facing misdemeanors.
Following the outcry by the neighbors, Springfield Police Chief Tim Doney said the department is now looking into whether Uehlin's house can qualify as a "chronic disorderly property."
Under Springfield's code, the city can bring a civil lawsuit seeking to classify a residence as a "chronic disorderly property," if a total of four "prohibited activities" occur there within a 60-day window.
Under the code, potential prohibited activities include: possession, distribution and manufacture of controlled substances, as well as harassment, assault, public indecency, alcohol violations, discharging firearms, prostitution or illegal gambling.
To qualify, the activities must have resulted in criminal or civil charges and convictions, according to city police officials.
If deemed a "chronic disorderly property" under the code, any residence can be ordered by a judge to be closed and completely vacated for up to a year.
The code specifies that, after the first two documented "prohibited activities" at a residence, the police chief must notify the homeowner that the property is in danger of being classified as a "chronic disorderly property."
The city has issued such notifications about 20 times since the language was implemented, according to Springfield police officials, and in each case the issue then subsided.
No "chronic disorderly property" case has yet been taken to court by the city.
"We're looking at" Uehlin's property, Doney said.
"If it meets the criteria (for a chronic disorderly property), we'll take the next steps."
Doney said the police department will bolster patrols in the area and will help area residents set up a neighborhood watch group.
Uehlin purchased the property from a family trust for $80,200 in 2000, according to county property records.
The property is now worth approximately $89,000.
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