EP councilman raises questions on vacant buildings

EAST PALESTINE — Councilman Alan Cohen this week questioned building and zoning inspector C.H. McCutcheon about how many vacant buildings are in the village.

People with vacant structures are required to register each year with the village. Cohen noted there were 27 such buildings in 2020, but only 14 on McCutcheon’s list this year.

McCutcheon explained that he was under the impression that that property owners had until this December to register. Cohen disagreed, saying they should have been registered in January.

McCutcheon said he had mailed letters to vacant property owners but he believes that there was miscommunication during a previous meeting. McCutcheon assumed responsibility for any confusion and explained he was confused himself, and he had not pressed the issue with the property owners.

Cohen said the importance of the registration dates was related to the amount of time between when the ordinance had passed in February 2020 and the end of the year. The timing of these events already gave property owners leniency.

The fines for the upcoming year will simulate a double charge for property owners who have not filled vacant properties.

Councilman Mark Walker asked McCutcheon which commercial properties had been fined. McCutcheon verified that a former restaurant on Taggart Street, the old city garage and the old electric building had been fined.

Cohen clarified that property owners were going to have to pay a registration fee of $25 right when the ordinance passed, they also would have to re-register for an additional $25.

The ordinance required buildings sitting vacant for longer than 90 days be registered.

Walker requested increased communication between building and zoning and council in the future. Walker requested additional information including property owners, vacant properties and whether or not fines were levied.

In another matter, Troy Rhoades from First Energy advised council that the company has decided to transition to LED street lights.

The village can keep traditional lighting, however, the cost of any damages to the equipment would be village responsibility.

Rhoades explained that if the village agrees to update at a cost of $280 a light, moving forward First Energy would assume repairs for future damage.

Village Manager Mark McTrustry advised that the field engineer has requested two field orders, one to put a duct in next to the bridge and help with concrete.

McTrustry advised that both projects would be $8,000.

McTrustry also said the pool has been power washed and sealed. The village plans to open the pool this year.


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