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Fairlawn officials investigating nightly room rentals in residences

7/17/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

During the July 14 Fairlawn City Council meeting, residents attended the meeting to express concerns about rooms in residential houses being rented out on a night to night basis.

In one instance in particular, Mary Ann Hanudel, of Owosso Avenue said it had been brought to her attention that a neighbor was renting out rooms in his house for $65 per night. She brought a printout of an ad that had been placed online letting people know the rooms were available.

“I am very concerned about this,” she said. “If I had wanted to move next door to a motel, I would have done so, but I didn’t. I moved to a residential area and I would really like to keep it that way. I really don’t want strangers coming in and out of the house next door.”

Hanudel said she had just recently been made aware of the issue and now she was “going to start a log” noting the number of different cars and visitors to the house in question.

Council President Russ Sharnsky (at large) said the issue was “just brought to Council’s attention, and to the administration, last Monday.”

“Believe me, we take this very seriously and it’s being looked into,” he said.

According to Law Director Ed Riegler, the issue of renting out rooms on a nightly basis is “not really covered” in Fairlawn’s code.

“There is nothing that specifically addresses this issue,” he said. “There’s a number of issues involved and one of them is whether it is actually a business that’s being operated and that’s something that we’re looking at. There are areas in the city that are zoned commercial and there are areas that are zoned residential, and this can fall in between some of this, depending upon on how this business is being operated. So we’re taking a look at it.”

City officials are in the process of reviewing the code “based on the information received last Monday,” said Mayor William Roth.

“The code currently is silent on that, because this issue has never really arisen before,” he stated. “Most city codes do not have something that addresses rentals like that. So we are in the process of looking at it, reviewing it and seeing what we can do, but we also have to make sure that anything we pass can pass any legal challenge in court.”

Hanudel said her preference is for the practice to be disallowed, but if that is not possible, she would like to see it become regulated in some manner.

“I just want the city officials to know that we’re concerned about this,” she said. “I don’t know how much they can do, but if anything can be done, it should be done. Should the $65 be taxed? Should he need a license. I think these are just reasonable questions and concerns.”

In other business:

  • Council unanimously approved an ordinance authorizing the mayor to enter into an easement agreement with Eclipse Resources for property located on the northeast corner of South Cleveland-Massillon and Ridgewood roads. The land was purchased by the City of Fairlawn in 1986 from the Roy Eckart estate.
    “This is city property that we’ve owned for years and it was subject to an old gas lease from the 1950s,” Roth said. “We have now been successful in negotiating a lot less cumbersome gas lease [with Eclipse Resources]. They are, in fact, vacating a majority of the property and they are narrowing their access.”
    Roth called the agreement “a plus for the city.”
    “They have agreed, at their own expense, to cap the dormant wells and to remove their equipment, excepting for their current easement, which leads up to a well,” he said. “What this does is it removes a blanket easement for the entire area, so we can actually develop it and that’s obviously what we want to do. As things develop, this would be one less thing we would have to worry about.”
  • City Engineer Nick Spagnuolo said construction work on Pembroke Road was slated to get under way this week.
    “The contractor plans to start installing the curbs and possibly the drive approaches this week, and, of course, after that will come the paving, but that’s still going to take another 10 days or so,” he said. “Then, they are supposed to come in on July 28 and do the milling and resurfacing of Rosemont and the Villages. At that time, they’ll put the final topcoat onto Pembroke.”
  • A resolution authorizing the approval and adoption of Summit County’s updated hazard mitigation plan was unanimously approved by Council.
    “The fire chief and the police chief have reviewed this, which was put together by the Summit County Emergency Management Agency,” said Riegler. “All jurisdictions within Summit County need to approve this document.”
    According to the legislation, the Summit County Emergency Management Agency is responsible for updating the plan every five years.
  • Police Chief Kenneth Walsh said Fairlawn’s Fourth of July parade and fireworks display both “went without incident.”
    “They were some of the best that we’ve had in quite a few years, as far as temperature and crowd,” he said. “We were very pleased with the turnouts, and that we had no problems at all.”
  • Council unanimously approved a resolution in support of Summit County declaring the month of August 2014 as Summit Kids Month in the county and “encouraging the citizens of Summit County to join in this acknowledgement.”
  • The minutes from the June 16 City Council meeting were unanimously approved.

The next Fairlawn City Council meeting is set to take place Aug. 18 at 6:30 p.m. at Fairlawn City Hall, 3487 S. Smith Road. The next Committee-of-the-Whole meeting is scheduled for Aug. 11 at 6 p.m. in City Hall.

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