Monday, March 1, 2004

Trustees adopt home code

Springfield Twp. could order owners to fix properties

By Liz Oakes
The Cincinnati Enquirer

SPRINGFIELD TWP. - Officials say they're going ahead with plans to adopt a property maintenance code and put township-wide zoning on the ballot this fall.

That would make Springfield the first township in Hamilton County to enact property regulations that would let officials order property owners to fix roofs, or replace broken or missing doors or shutters, county and local officials say.

The township plans to add two positions to the Development Services Department to oversee the new codes and zoning, which could cost as much as $100,000 annually.

The money would come out of the general fund, trustees say.

Most of Springfield Township is under county zoning control, and "every time a business wants to come in, they have to go through a lengthy and expensive variance process," said Trustee Joseph Honerlaw.

Lots in the township tend to be narrow and shallow, Honerlaw said, and don't fit zoning for buffers and other county requirements.

"If you do all the setbacks, there's nothing left to put a building," he said.

Trustees approved a resolution at the second of two hearings last week declaring their intent to adopt a property code and put zoning on the ballot.

The township can tackle high grass and trash in yards under an anti-nuisance ordinance. But without a maintenance code, officials can't order property owners to fix roofs, or replace broken or missing doors or shutters.

"It's not unusual for residents to call me concerned about homes placed up for rental where the yard, the property, are not well maintained," said Trustee Gwen McFarlin.

"Once we have this tool that decreases the number of homes that are not maintained, it will increase home ownership," she said.

The township plans hearings this summer on the changes.



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