Council discusses rental property legislation

STEUBENVILLE – City Council took a significant step in a three-month-long process to enact rental property legislation and will ask the planning and zoning commission to review two revised ordinances following conversations with the Jefferson County Landlord Association and a friendly debate at Tuesday night’s Sunshine Meeting.

Council also heard a recommendation from Code Enforcement Officer Shawn Scott to use sanitation department employees to clean up trash problem areas and bill the property owner or resident.

“I am in favor of our sanitation crews picking up the trash and then charging a fee to the person responsible. We need to continue cracking down on habitual trash violators and not stop. I don’t want to see the trash issue start over again. Clean it up and keep it clean,” declared 3rd Ward Councilman Greg Metcalf.

Councilman at large Kenny Davis asked if the city could tag an habitual trash violator’s house, “and tell the people they can’t live there until they fix the trash problem.”

Scott said he has been focusing on the 1100 and 1200 block of Oak Grove Avenue and the alley between Oak Grove and Arlington Avenue.

“I had to issue one citation, but we finally have that area cleaned up. I will continue moving on Oak Grove into the 1300 and 1400 block. I suggest we follow this procedure two days a week, one day on LaBelle and one day on Pleasant Heights. And, we put the word out that we are going after the trash violators,” Scott said.

He is also prepared to issue warning letters and citations Saturday during the annual Hilltop Community Development Corp. spring litter cleanup in the two hilltop neighborhoods.

“We need to proceed with the laws we already have in place. This will not go away over night, but I think the word will go out that we are serious and we are coming. The key is coordinating our litter crackdown along with our property maintenance code enforcement,” said City Manager Tim Boland.

The three Planning Committee members reached an agreement on two proposed ordinances that will include the inspection of a rental property if the structure is not in compliance with the housing code, and an opportunity for residents to petition council to create a conservation district to limit future rental properties in their neighborhood.

The issue has been under review by the planning commission for the past three months.

A private meeting last week between city officials and representatives of the landlord association saw some give and take from both sides.

The two revised ordinances will be sent back to the commission for the May 5 meeting for review and discussion.

The three-hour committee meetings and sunshine session included a lengthy discussion about the steelworker statue at the corner of University Boulevard and state Route 7.

“No one is sure who actually owns the statue, but we know it is in the area to be used for the new state Route 7 and University Boulevard interchange. The Ohio Department of Transportation said the statue must be moved by Nov. 30. I contacted Alan Hall of the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County, and he is willing to allow the statue to be located on the lot across from the main library on South Fourth Street. But, we are looking at approximately $18,700 to move the 4-ton statue to a new location,” explained City Engineer Mike Dolak.

“When I heard about this, I talked to Mark Glyptis (president of United Steelworkers Local 2911 at the ArcelorMittal plant in Weirton) and he plans to talk to the USW district officials about where the statue should go. We can help move it to South Fourth Street or we might be able to take it to our Steelworker Memorial Park in Weirton. But we have to save this statue,” said 5th Ward Councilman Willie Paul.

Council approved requests to close South Street for the Grecian Food Festival and for a rolling roadblock in late June for the Steubenville High School Band march-a-thon.

During the sunshine meeting, 2nd Ward Councilman Mike Johnson proposed legislation authorizing the city manager to advertise for design-build services for renovations to the Municipal Court and police building.

Police Chief Bill McCafferty has requested new carpeting for the dispatch area as well as wall repairs, replacing the current intercom and new ceiling tile.

“The detective office area will need walls removed or moved and an entrance to a remodeled interview room along with extensive work to the ceiling and walls. An interview room for use by the turn officers and detectives needs to be installed. The patrol officer locker room needs updated and if the department hires a female officer in the future arrangements will have to be made. The cooling and heating issues need to be addressed in the entire building,” explained McCafferty.

Metcalf proposed a resolution urging the renewal of state Issue 1, the state capital improvements program after Dolak said the city has received $2.5 million in state funds during the past several years for local projects.

Mayor Domenick Mucci announced he will name the new health commissioner at at Friday morning press conference.