Dec. 3—Sylvania Township officials are considering establishing a property maintenance code that would require residents and business owners to keep their properties in good repair.
“Approximately 75 percent of home-rule townships in Ohio have some form of property maintenance code,” said Daryl Graus, Sylvania Township planning and zoning manager. “We do not.”
The proposal is scheduled to come before the township trustees during a public meeting at 5 p.m. on Jan. 4. It was presented to the trustees in August, and the board agreed to a 90-day review period for officials and residents to comment on the plan.
Anyone can view the proposal on the township’s website, and concerns or comments can be sent ahead of the Jan. 4 meeting to Mr. Graus at [email protected].
“It’s just a tool to help maintain the standards,” Mr. Graus said about the proposed new code. “It allows us to address things we can’t currently address.”
The township’s current zoning code allows zoning department staff to address issues such as high grass, junk vehicles, and dilapidated fences, Mr. Graus said. But the department also occasionally gets complaints about broken doors and broken windows, and since those issues aren’t included in the current code, there’s nothing that zoning can do about it.
The proposed maintenance code would allow zoning staff to handle broken door and window complaints, as well as other issues such as hanging gutters and large sections of peeling paint.
Oliver Turner, township administrator, said implementing the new code wouldn’t cost any taxpayer money because the zoning department wouldn’t add personnel or hours.
Mr. Turner also pointed out that part of the basis for the proposal is a survey that was sent to residents during the development of the township’s land use plan in 2018. Survey results showed that 57 percent of participants were in favor of the township adopting a property maintenance code.
Trustee John Crandall said the main point of the new code is to allow the township to address the exterior of buildings. His opinion was that the proposed code was initially too strict, but he’s satisfied with the current version.
“I can’t really say what the board’s going to do,” he said. “We haven’t made a decision on that.”
Mr. Graus said the process for enforcing the new code would be based on receiving complaints. Zoning staff would then investigate and if a property was found to be in non-compliance, the department would work with the owner on a plan to bring it to legal status.
He said he understands that people might not be able to afford the fix right away or might not be able to get it done within a particular time frame, but as long as progress is being made toward compliance, Mr. Graus said the zoning department would work with people to avoid bringing the issue to court.
“Ultimately it comes down to if you own property, you need to be able to maintain it,” he said. “If you got pulled over because you don’t have a muffler or the brake lights are out, you can’t tell the officer you can’t afford to fix it.”
First Published December 3, 2021, 8:00am