Marijuana bust’s impact on neighborhood will be fleeting, residents say

Johnston residents said they don’t think the discovery of a marijuana-growing operation in their neighborhood will have a lasting impact.

State and federal officials this week seized 550 marijuana plants with an estimated value of $550,000 to $1 million from 7323 Longboat Drive. Timothy Lantz was arrested Wednesday. Lantz is listed in county records as a contract purchaser of the property, which has an assessed value of $298,700.

Eric Rehm, a Johnston city building inspector, was called to the house to assess its condition. He said the upstairs had soiled carpet, kitchen appliances that had been moved around and holes cut into the ceiling for the operation. Moisture saturated the basement.

Rehm did the final inspection when the house was built four years ago. He said the change from when he saw it last is night and day.

“This was a home once; it’s not a home anymore. This is a box with a garage stuck on the front of it,” he said. “It was obvious to me that the person living in this house wasn’t living in this house because it was his home. They were there for a purpose.”

Arthur Vogel, resident agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, said a fairly routine forfeiture action could be taken against the property, although several conditions need to be present for that.

The seizure followed an investigation dating back almost two years and also involved another Longboat Drive house. It appears Lantz is the only person to be charged in the bust so far. He is being held without bond in the Polk County Jail on federal drug charges. He faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted.

Residents said that the area has a neighborly feel and that the drug bust won’t change that.

“It’s done and over, and everyone will just move on,” said Jerry Jones, 72.

Neighbors have said Lantz seemed to go out of his way to be by himself. Based on what they smelled, some neighbors suspected Lantz smoked marijuana — but never that he might be growing it.

“I think this is an isolated situation,” said Sandy Lucas, 60. “We all think it’s a wonderful neighborhood.

“We all pretty much know each other, and no one knew who lived in that house.”

via : Desmoinesregister

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