Piqua City Commission tables rental inspection program


PIQUA — Members of the Piqua City Commission voted to table an ordinance to approve a proposed rental inspection program, after hearing public comments during a special meeting held in the Grand Ballroom at the Fort Piqua Plaza Banquet Center on Wednesday, Aug. 2.

“I believe that we need more dialog from the landlords,” Vice-Mayor Kris Lee said. “I want the best program possible, if we’re going to have a program.”

After listening to more than two hours of comments from citizens speaking both for and against the program, commission members voted unanimously to table the rental inspection program ordinance. Approximately 50-75 citizens attended the meeting.

“A lot of good points were made here tonight,” Lee said.

Commission members said they plan to continue working on the program, with increased input from landlords and tenants.

“The program has evolved,” Lee said. “We made changes; some of the stuff just wasn’t going to fly.”

“That program is needed here, we just need to fine-tune it,” he said.

“This is going to be a great program once we get there,” Mayor Cindy Pearson said.

As proposed, the rental inspection program would have required owners of rental properties within the city to register and pay an annual fee of $65 per year per unit for a license. Licensed properties would then have been subject to inspection every three years.

“The language is too vague,” local resident Darren Yingst said during the public comment portion of the meeting. “There needs to be a panel with the landlords.”

“I’m not saying to scrap it altogether; I really think the program could work,” Yingst said. “I just think there’s more that needs to be done before we actually vote.”

“I agree some houses do need to be fixed up,” Shawnee neighborhood association vice-president Joe Osborn said. “They are being fixed up at a slow pace because we’re trying to keep the rent down to let the people be able to afford to live there.”

“We can’t afford to dump $10-15,000 into it and then six months later they tear it up,” he said. “You take them to court, you’re out court money, you’re out lawyer money, and nothing’s ever done.”

“I have tried to keep an open mind and listen to both sides of the argument,” local Realtor Laura Bates said, speaking on behalf of the Ohio Association of Realtors and the Midwestern Association of Realtors.

“Both of these organizations oppose this ordinance,” Bates said. “It is an unnecessary burden to the majority of landlords who maintain their investments.”

“I have not heard from one tenant who supports this,” she said. “Other cities like Springfield have adopted an inspection, however it is not done by the city its done by the tenant, who is paying to live there. That’s a far more economical way then funding and staffing an entire department.”

Other residents spoke in favor of the rental inspection program.

“I’m in favor of the ordinance,” Joe Wilson said. “I think if you table it and make whatever changes, people will still be against it no matter what you do.”

“We can’t have unsafe conditions,” Wilson said. “If you have to pay to make something safe , you should have done that before and you should be required to do it. Even if it raises the rent, it needs to be done.”

“I think we owe it to the people living there to give them a safe place to live,” he said.

Commission members made plans to meet with a group of landlords and tenants organized by local resident Chuck Stearitt.

“We’ll set up a meeting,” Stearitt said. “We’ll go over these ideas and we’ll come up with a plan. Let’s do it right the first time.”

“It can’t just be the city that gets everything done, and takes the blame when it doesn’t work,” Commission member Chris Grissom said. “I do see where there’s a need for this, but I do also agree that there needs to be collaboration; there needs to be work with the citizens and we do need to listen.”

In other business at Wednesday’s meeting, commission members also passed a resolution accepting an Ohio Department of Development grant for $100,000 for Ridge Street water upgrades, and adopted balance guidelines for three city funds.

Commission members also voted to officially name a new bridge that was recently constructed on the Miami Recreational Trail. The new bridge will be named the Atomic City Bridge at Goodrich Giles Park.

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