Leetonia coucil approves measure to enable Zoning Dept. to cite tenants

LEETONIA – Village Council Wednesday night approved the first reading of an ordinance that will enable the Zoning Department to cite tenants instead of landlords into Mayor’s Court.

Council unanimously passed a modified rental unit registration ordinance that will require rental property owners to register each unit at a $10 fee and name each tenant over the age of 18, as well as the total number of occupants, living in each one. The ordinance also requires each owner to renew registration every year at a $10 fee, open each unit to inspections by the zoning inspector and name a statutory agent to represent the owner for those living out of state. Violations of the ordinance will be punished as a minor misdemeanor offense.

According to Zoning Inspector John Rydarowicz, the ordinance will hopefully help his department cut down on violations.

“There are a lot of landlords who live outside the village,” he said. “Violations…are the tenants’ fault, but we don’t know who they are.”

Rydarowicz said citations against landlords who live too far outside the village cannot be delivered by the police department, so violations often are not stopped.

“I hope this is something that helps clean up Leetonia,” he said.

This is the third time council has attempted to pass an ordinance intended to help the department more efficiently issue minor citations. Council voted against the third reading of a similar ordinance in January 2011 after rental property owners dissented and then faced opposition again in November 2012 after Rydarowicz presented a modified version of the ordinance.

In response to the second wave of backlash, council authorized Village Solicitor Walter Newton to re-draft the ordinance and present it as new to address the landlords’ concerns.

The new ordinance currently under consideration has lowered the initial registration fee, eliminated a requirement for insurance on units, changed the requirement for a statutory agent to that of the Ohio Revised Code and eliminated higher penalties for multiple violations.

Kevin Howell can be reached at khowell@salemnews.net