LEETONIA- Zoning Inspector John Rydarowicz Wednesday night presented the Zoning Committee with an ordinance requiring the registration of vacant homes.
The ordinance would require anyone with foreclosed upon property to notify the village within 10 days of vacating the home who will be responsible for maintaining the property. Anyone living outside the Leetonia Exempted Village School District would have to appoint a property manager residing within the district to be responsible for maintaining the property. A $75 fee will be assessed at the time of filing, $150 if filed after the 10-day limit. Anyone failing to file will be charged with a fourth-degree misdemeanor.
Village Council did not address the issue in its meeting immediately following the committee's meeting.
According to Rydarowicz, there are currently 27 abandoned properties, most in foreclosure, for which the the village must mow the lawns. In 2011 the village spent $2,500 in mowing that is assessed as a tax lien on the property every Sept. 1. He said that if a property is sold prior to following Sept. 1, the village will lose all the money spent on maintaining that property within that year.
After visitors at the meeting questioned how the village would be able to get people who are abandoning their homes to register with the village for $75, Rydarowicz acknowledged that the ordinance is not an ultimate solution, but just a starting point to recover money spent on the properties.
"There is no easy solution, but I have to start somewhere," he said. "I need the tools to get these mowing bills down."
Rydarowicz said there are currently 37 communities in Ohio with a similar ordinance.
Additionally several rental property owners attended the meeting and subsequent council meeting in reference to a landlord-tenant agreement Rydarowicz had reintroduced to council last month, but neither the committee or council addressed the issue.
The owners stated that they had formed a group and were willing to work with Rydarowicz and council to develop a ordinance more acceptable to the landlords. Mayor Artie Altomare responded that the group would be welcome and promised that it would be notified when the issue will be discussed.
The revised ordinance still requires the owners to pay a registration fee, open the property to inspections and purchase hazard and general insurance for the home, but eliminates the requirement for proof of the occupant's legal citizenship or residency. It also eliminates the requirement that each additional members living in a unit register as an occupant.