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Lakemore to implement rental registration, guidelines

4/18/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Emily Chesnic

LAKEMORE — Lakemore officials are rolling out new legislation that would require the registration and inspection of all residential rental units in the village.

Mayor Rick Justice said it took a year to construct the ordinance introduced at the April 15 meeting.

“The goal here is to improve the housing in the Village of Lakemore,” he explained. “Certain areas need a lot of help.”

Village Solicitor Becky Doherty said the purpose of the legislation is to establish standards necessary to make all rental units safe, sanitary, free from fire and health hazards, fit for human habitation and beneficial to the public welfare of the people of Lakemore.

The new guidelines will protect the community from blighted or deteriorating rental units, she said.

According to Doherty, the registration process will provide the village with the information necessary to enforce the codified ordinances of the village and the village’s property maintenance code.

“It will protect property values to maintain the character and appearance of the community and set in place responsibilities for owners and occupants of the dwellings with respect to repair and maintenance and provide for administration enforcement,” she added.

Justice specifically thanked Doherty and Springfield Township Trustee Dean Young for their input on the document that will go through three readings before going into effect.

He said the village would be maintaining a registry of owners and occupants of all rental units except owner-occupied, single-family dwellings. Each structure or rental unit must be registered, with payment of the registration fee, by the owner within 90 days of the effective date of the ordinance and annually by the 15th of January each year, per the new legislation. The fee schedule is $30 per single-family structure and $45 per structure with two- to six-rental units and $60 per structure with seven or more rental units, according to the proposed ordinance. Upon initial registration, each rental unit would be inspected, both interior and exterior, as needed to ensure the safety and welfare of the residents. Upon transfer or change of owner of any rental unit, the structure shall again be inspected, both interior and exterior, the document states. Each structure/unit shall then be inspected every two years at the direction of the village zoning inspector, per the legislation.

The ordinance outlines the standards for rental property maintenance, known as the “maintenance code.” The code provides minimum standards for basic equipment and facilities, for lights, plumbing, pipes, room sizes, ventilation, heating, safety from fire, for the use and amount of space for human occupancy and for the safety and sanitary maintenance of rental properties, Doherty said.

The code also calls for each unit to be free of mold and mildew and for the roofs, floors, floor coverings, walls, foundations, ceilings, windows, stairs, handrails, guardrails, drainage system, screens, chimneys, vents, gutters, downspouts, exterior finish, breaker panels, electrical wiring, appliances, heating system, water heaters, closets, doors, porches and other structural components to be in sound condition and in good repair, she said.

Per the code, fire alarm systems, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers also shall be properly maintained and found in sound condition.

According to the code, the outside of each site must be properly maintained, free of weeds and garbage, as well.

Failure to register rental properties would be considered a violation, Doherty explained. The zoning inspector would keep a record of all inspections and violations, she added. Noncompliance issues must be corrected in a timely manner to avoid fines she said. According to the proposed ordinance, fines for a first offense would be $100; second offense, $500; and third offense, $1,000.

Council President Tammie Coontz said the village now is “heavily” focused on nuisance abatement, with 30 properties on the radar.

Justice added the village just was able to demolish the first home, located on Mohican Boulevard, through the Moving Ohio Forward grant program, which provides matching funds for a demolition program in state municipalities. He said the program will allow the village to take down about 15 more blighted and abandoned homes this year.

Also during the meeting, Council announced Cleanup Week would take place in the village April 22-26, with the annual Clean Up Day to take place April 27 at 9 a.m. at Upper Waterworks Park.

Council also heard first reading of a resolution to permit the mayor to enter into a contract with Time Warner Cable for five years, at a cost of about $53 a month, for high-speed Internet service at the water system at 2827 Sanitarium Road.

Council additionally authorized an agreement with Springfield Soccer Club for use of the Lakemore Soccer Field for youth soccer through Oct. 31.

Before the meeting’s close, a recognition ceremony was held to honor village employees who have served Lakemore for a lengthy amount of time.

Plaques were presented to Ray Fabre, for his 18 years of service; Louis Noland and Roger Knox, each for 34 years of service; and Bill Bookman, for 38 years of service.

Bookman was not present at the meeting, due to a serious illness, so his close friend and former member of Council, Pat Fiocca, accepted the award on his behalf.

In other village business, Fire Chief Barry Saley announced residents may be able to save 10 percent to 15 percent on their homeowner’s insurance, due to the department’s new ISO (Insurance Services Office) rating. He explained the village has gone from class 7 to class 4 due to the efficiency of the organization.

“This is another example of the direction the Fire Department has gone to make great gains with staffing, equipment and training,” he said.

Fire Department officials also have announced elderly village residents soon could have the opportunity to obtain lock boxes, containing a key, outside of their homes, so first responders could gain easy access into their homes in an emergency.

The next regular Council meeting will take place May 6 at 7 p.m. at the Municipal Building, 1400 Main St.

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