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Fairlawn updating rental, housing code

8/21/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

FAIRLAWN — During the Aug. 18 Fairlawn City Council meeting, city officials heard first readings of 20 proposed ordinances dealing with updates to Fairlawn’s rental and housing code.

“Part of this is that we are updating our code to remain compliant with the Residential Code of Ohio,” said Mayor William Roth. “With the other legislation, what we’re trying to do is address rental properties and income properties. What we’re trying to do basically is update our code — modernize it — so we can be more proactive. Obviously, we need a balanced code, and we are in the process of updating procedures for rental registration and the right to inspect rental properties to make sure they are in compliance with our code. It’s all with the intent of preserving the integrity of the housing stock in our city.”

According Roth, the city has been reviewing its rental and housing code for years.

“We are in the process of putting in things like mandatory lease language, because we want to make sure certain things are in there, whether it’s landlord rights or tenant’s rights,” he said. “It’s very comprehensive and this was a first reading only. We expect feedback from the public.”

One ordinance would require “minimum lease language,” Roth said.

“In other words, the city would require certain language in leases that landlords must have tenants sign,” he said. “All leases must be written, and we will be provided a copy of the leases.”

Roth said a few of the other ordinances deal with “overnight rentals,” an issue residents brought before city officials during the July 14 Council meeting. Residents told Council they were concerned about homeowners renting out rooms in residences by the night.

“We have hotels in the city that are specifically for overnight rentals, and basically we are eliminating overnight rentals in residential housing,” he said. “After the issue was brought to our attention in July, we researched the code. That’s why we now have a definition of a boarding house and a rooming house.”

Zoning, Housing & Residential Building Commissioner Chris Randles said Fairlawn is “essentially prohibiting rooming houses and boarding houses” in the city’s seven residential-zoned districts.

“Right now, we don’t really have any regulations on the books regarding those types of uses in residential districts,” he said. “So what we are presenting to Council for their approval is the addition of what a rooming house is and what a boarding house is, and then we are going through all of our residential districts and we are prohibiting that use in those districts.”

Because the issues deal with zoning, Roth said, the proposed ordinances will next head to Fairlawn’s Planning Commission for further discussion.

“This was a first reading only tonight for Council. Planning has a meeting scheduled for September, and they will address the issues or they can table them; it’s their call,” he said. “Once they have addressed them, there will be a public hearing. This is all just following our procedure.”

In other business, Charter Review Commission Chairperson Cindy Visca delivered a pair of recommendations to Council based on meetings held by the commission in May, June and July.

One recommendation was to permit the appointment of an alternate member for the city’s Park and Recreation Board.

Council agreed to send the issue to the Summit County Board of Elections for inclusion on the Nov. 4 General Election ballot.

In addition, the commission recommended a change to the city’s code regarding general residency requirements for Council members.

“They went through the code and found out that there is no specific requirement for Council people to actually live in the ward they represent,” Roth said. “So they recommended that it be put in ordinance form.”

Law Director Ed Riegler said the residency issue does not need to go before voters, adding legislation on the matter will go before Council at a future meeting.

Also during the meeting:

  • After previously announcing the city had struck a gas aggregation price of $4.77 per thousand cubic feet (mcf) for all residents and $4.67 for seniors, Roth said the price will now be $4.67 for all residents.
    “Originally, the company [Constellation Energy] gave us two different prices, but we were actually able to lower the price for everybody,” the mayor said.
    To get locked into that price for two years starting this fall, Roth said, residents will need to “opt in” to the aggregation price.
    The 2013 price was $4.94 per mcf.
  • A resolution confirming the appointment of Karen Talbott as Fairlawn’s representative on Summit County Public Health’s Board of Health for an unexpired term ending Dec. 31 was unanimously approved by Council.
    A Fairlawn resident since 1986, Talbott is replacing Lewis DeBevec Jr., who submitted his resignation earlier this year, the mayor noted.
  • Fairlawn’s second annual Food Truck Roundup will take place Aug. 31 from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. at Bicentennial Park, 3486 S. Smith Road.
    Roth said this year’s event will include 18 different vendors.

The next Fairlawn City Council meeting is set for Sept. 8 at 6:30 p.m. at Fairlawn City Hall, 3487 S. Smith Road.

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