The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

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        Northwood is seeking to establish a property maintenance code to address properties that have been abandoned and neglected. The proposed ordinance has been tabled since September.

        “We have been looking for ways to address rundown residential and commercial properties,” City Administrator Bob Anderson told The Press last week. “We have commercial buildings that have been sitting vacant and neglected for a while. We have residential buildings that have been vacant and neglected, and are becoming nuisances.”

        Anderson had recommended that the proposed ordinance be tabled after its first reading in September, and asked that it be sent to the Planning Commission for its review and recommendation to city council.

        The city wants to adopt the International Property Maintenance Code of 2018, which is over 50 pages long.

        “This is a huge document,” Mayor Ed Schimmel said at the September 28 meeting. “Other communities that have adopted a maintenance code have taken this template. Some have adopted the whole thing, some have picked and chose what areas they wanted. It covers a lot of stuff. We just want council to look it over, consider it, have the Planning Commission look at it. It’s going to take a while for everyone to look at the whole thing.”

       

Prior attempts

        The city has tried to address the problem in the past, with little success, said Anderson.

        “We have a vacant building code where we charged commercial property owners for having vacant buildings for a certain period of time. We collected a fee for that. The point was to get them to sell the buildings.”

        Under the vacant property code, the property owner of a vacant commercial property is not charged for the first year that the property is listed with an authorized real estate agent,” said Anderson.

        “The owner has to fill out a piece of paper saying it’s listed for sale and they’re trying to sell it,” said Anderson. ”After the second year, there is a fee if it isn’t sold. The next year the fee doubles. The purpose of that is to get them to actively sell their buildings. With this code, we have not gone after residential properties.”

        The proposed property maintenance code covers residential, commercial and industrial properties, he said.

        “It covers all buildings in Northwood,” he said.

        The proposed property maintenance code would allow the city to address buildings that are becoming run down – dilapidated buildings with roofing, siding, and windows in poor condition.

        “The current zoning code doesn’t have enough teeth to address some of these problems. It allows us to do more than just charge fees. If we adopt it, it allows us to go in and clean up the property, or whatever needs to be done to the property. We charge it back to the property owner on their property taxes. We don’t want to end up owning someone’s property,” he said.

       

Trained professionals

        The city still has to set up qualified professionals to do the repairs, he said.

        “We have to find people who know what they’re doing. We have to have someone with experience in mechanical, HVSC, and carpentry. So we’re still a ways from doing this. This is on the table, but there’s a lot of questions about its structure and how we would implement it,” he said.

        “The Planning Commission has not yet addressed it,” he continued. “This is much more complicated than just saying, `OK, here’s the code and you have to follow it.’ If you’re going to have it, you have to have the ability to enforce it. And if you have the ability to enforce it, you need someone who is trained and knows what to look for. And those are questions we have not answered yet. It’s doable. A lot of cities have this. But we want to do this properly and make sure we have a code we can enforce.”                 

       

       

       

       

 

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