Milford Center is working on implementing a new property maintenance code.
During Monday’s Village Council meeting, members reviewed an “exterior property maintenance and appearance code.”
The code was presented by council member Don Jones, although he was not present at the meeting.
The 11-page document was discussed as a template for the development of future regulations.
Village solicitor Alison Boggs said she and zoning inspector Jim Lockwood have allocated excessive time and resources to attempting to bring local properties up-to-code. She felt it was necessary to consider new regulations.
Council member Dan Johnson said he was also in favor of considering new property maintenance codes, but felt the proposed one was too rigid.
He said he felt it gave too much power to the “code enforcement officer” and said the code felt “Big Brother-y.”
Councilmember Derek Wilson pointed out a “right of entry” stipulation within the listed duties and powers of the code officer. It states, “the code official is authorized to enter the structure of premises at reasonable times to inspect or perform the duties imposed by this code.”
“I, like Dan, feel like it’s really intrusive,” he said.
Johnson agreed with Wilson and said he trusts Lockwood, who would act as the code officer, to act with discretion, but the language provides “the potential for future abuse.”
Wilson said he spoke with multiple residents to ask their opinion of the code, all of whom were opposed to it.
He said one of the biggest points of concern is the violation penalty. The proposed code states violations are subject to a fine of up to $500 per offense, while each day a violation continues after notice will be considered a new offense.
The proposed code does provide a means for appeal, but Wilson said it is still too strict.
He said he felt imposing such a large fine would be detrimental to the community, as many residents rely on a lower income, social security or other benefits.
Despite these concerns, council member Don Jones said he was in favor of the proposed code.
“It looks to me like it addresses the issues we’ve talked about (regarding out-of-code properties) in vague terms,” Jones said.
Wilson, however, disagreed and said the code goes into such detail that it requires approval of construction materials by the code officer.
Ultimately, Johnson said he felt researching a new property maintenance code would benefit Milford Center, but the proposed one wasn’t the right fit for the village.
“I would like to see something like this passed,” he said. “As it is now, I would vote no, but if it were tweaked a little I would be in favor.”
Jones then moved to create a resolution that would temporarily appoint Wilson and Johnson to the Planning, Ordinances, Codes, Annexation and Zoning committee to “fine tune” the property maintenance code.
Council voted 4-0 in favor, as council members Jones and Terri Kean were absent.
In other business:
– Council member Jeff Parren said he received an email from Eric Phillips of the Union County Improvement Corporation asking the village to submit a letter supporting the extension of the Heritage Trail from Hilliard to Woodstock.
Parren said the extension is part of the Rails-to-Trails program, which is currently seeking additional grant funding.
He explained that the letter was non-binding and didn’t commit the village to taking any action, but its support may increase the project’s chance of receiving additional grants.
Council voted 4-0 in favor of submitting a letter of support.
– Council approved a resolution to replace the previously proposed operating budget for 2020 with a new budget.
Payne, who is the finance committee chairperson, said “the village has a little less than $1 million in the bank” as of Nov. 2019, which is on par with the past several years.
– Council heard an update from Mayor Virgil Ray Reisinger regarding the status of the new VFW building. He said the interior wall has been built, the insulation is currently being installed and work on the drywall should begin by the end of the week.
He said the construction is being completed by village employees and was not contracted out to a private company, as was previously considered.
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