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Why Not The Whole City?

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VietVet View Drop Down
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    Posted: Mar 27 2019 at 6:57am
Journal story.....

MIDDLETOWN —
Middletown could require owners of vacant DOWNTOWN buildings to register with the city as a way to ensure upkeep and maintenance.

Officials are concerned that vacant buildings become hazards for first responders, attract vagrancy and hamper economic development efforts for the downtown area.MORE: Owner to make repairs on crumbling Middletown building City Manager Doug Adkins said the proposed ordinance is not targeting any particular buildings in the downtown Urban Central Core District.“The goal is to protect the investment of owners who have renovated their buildings and encourage further renovation and occupation within the district,” Adkins said. “This was initially requested by downtown property owners and DMI (Downtown Middletown Inc.).”Officials said there have been ongoing concerns regarding the upkeep, maintenance and emergency accessibility of vacant buildings in the downtown area.

“Most owners can be reached by the city as needed,” Adkins said. “Some are silent, some work with us regularly, others are not accessible.”
The proposed ordinance includes exemptions to these registration requirements for buildings in active renovation, those that suffer fire damage, and those that are for sale. Failing to comply with any of these standards can result in civil fines of $100 a day for each day the building is non-compliant, and the ability for the city to abate and assess violating properties.The proposed ordinance would require:• Registration of the vacant property• Designation of a local owner or agent to contact• Submission of a plan for the property• Maintaining liability insurance• Maintaining minimum maintenance standards for building In her report, Susan Cohen, city administrative services director, said the increased enforcement costs should be offset by the annual registration fee of $200 for vacant residential buildings and $400 for vacant commercial buildings in the first year.Cohen said the vacant residential fees would double each year, up to $3,200 on the fifth year, and vacant commercial fees would double each year, up to $6,400 for the fifth year. Those building owners who do not pay the annual fee will see those fees assessed to their property taxes at the city’s current interest rate.The legislation has a 10-year sunset period.MORE: ‘Do Not Enter’: A large Hamilton fire underscored the dangers of the area’s aging, empty buildings Denise Brodsky of Hamilton, who works with the SORG Revitalization organization, asked the city council to look carefully at the proposal and make sure it is supportive and not punitive.

Why just the downtown area? Why not apply this to the whole city? What happened to the "rusty gutters"/"paint peeling off houses/garages" thing years ago? Is there still a city truck that drives around looking for dilapidated properties in town? There was at one time, right? Is this still being administered in the residential areas?
I'm so proud of my hometown and what it has become. Recall 'em all. Let's start over.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MattR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Mar 27 2019 at 9:15pm
Wasn't the latest building to fall over downtown owned by the city? And the one before that?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote buddhalite Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Apr 02 2019 at 10:13am
Wow,

So - if you're one of the poor people who are stuck with real estate you can't rent or sell downtown, the city wants to make you pay a registration fee ($6,400 on the fifth year!??!??!?!?!?) just to continue ownership?

Sure.  Oh yeah - if you don't pay - we'll tack it on to your already exorbitant property taxes and then you won't pay, causing the sheriff to sell it for taxes and we'll be right back to where we started.

I know there's people out here who think that a bunch of us are just anti-downtown - but here's a great example of why downtown is in it's current shape.  

Vet, I did see a 'code enforcement' truck rolling though a neighborhood the other day...
"Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it."—Henry David Thoreau
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VietVet View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote VietVet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Apr 04 2019 at 8:27am
Journal story today.....

MIDDLETOWN —
Despite the objections of nearly a dozen property owners Tuesday, Middletown City Council approved an ordinance to require owners of vacant buildings to register with the city to ensure upkeep and maintenance.

.......

The new ordinance, which starts in 30 days, affects buildings and properties within the Urban Core Central zoning district that encompasses downtown Middletown.

Officials are concerned that vacant buildings not properly maintained become hazards for first responders, attract vagrancy and hamper economic development efforts for the downtown area

Dennis Vitori, a local businessman, property owner and DMI chairman.He called the legislation “a tool to make downtown more vibrant and sustainable.”



Again, I will ask the question.....why only the downtown area for maintenance of standards for building ownership? Why not apply this to the whole city?

This appears to be yet another attempt to protect the downtown area while totally ignoring the other 85% of the city. What is the reason for this decision? This focus is not totally encompassing of the entire city. They care about what their dam downtown looks like but could care less about the rest of the city. That constitutes tunnel vision. Why?
I'm so proud of my hometown and what it has become. Recall 'em all. Let's start over.
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VietVet View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote VietVet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 06 2019 at 9:07am
Looks like there is some tension among downtown property owners and the city with their recent proposal to enforce property maintenance and development......

Latest story in the Journal.....

MIDDLETOWN —
Starting next month, Middletown will have another tool to enforce minor violations or code violations.

Middletown City Council on Tuesday voted 3-2 to adopt a civil penalty notice ordinance that will provide an option aside from forcing violators to appear in court. That will enable any city enforcement officers, such as police, code enforcement or building inspectors, to issue civil penalty notices for violations of about 220 sections of the city’s municipal code.Vice Mayor Talbott Moon and Councilman Steve Bohannon voted against the ordinance. Prior to the vote, Moon had unsuccessfully moved to table the ordinance for additional review.The civil penalty notices could be issued for offenses that would range from minor traffic/pedestrian infractions to not having the appropriate permits, inoperable vehicles, dogs running at large or barking, trees and branches that overhang right of ways.

Those enforcement officers also will have the discretion to give a warning as well as issue civil notices or criminal citations. People who receive these notices will be required to pay a fine or request an administrative hearing to contest the alleged violations, according to the proposed ordinance.

Depending on the infraction, civil penalty fines can range from $50 to $150 and will double if the fines are delinquent, according to the proposed ordinance. However, civil offense violations and criminal charges cannot be filed simultaneously. There are also provisions to have civil fines reduced.
Decisions by the hearing examiner can be appealed to the Butler County Common Pleas Court

Several people said they had concerns about the ordinance’s standards for compliance, due process, constitutionality and training for officers.Resident Joe Wittman called the ordinance an “overreach” and likened it to “applying a tourniquet where a Band-Aid is needed.”

Wittman said he has seen the vacant buildings ordinance “used as a tool of intimidation” by the city.“I doubt this legislation is necessary for the city,” Wittman said. “I believe it is too broadly and vaguely written. It has few checks on centralized power and I fear it will be too easily abused.”His wife, Sue Wittman, expressed concerns that people cited would appear before a hearing officer who would be appointed by the city manager instead of an elected judge. She raised concerns about notices being sent by regular mail.“I have concerns with the direction the city is going in,” she said.Local landlord Dan Tracy said the city already has most of these violations on the books that can already be enforced.“Raise the fines, but we don’t need another ordinance,” he said. “We have these already in place.”

Middletown Municipal Court Judge James Sherron said he understands some of the concerns raised by residents as valid issues and added that he has issues with the executive branch adjudicating violations and possible due process issues.“There’s a lot of tentacles to this octopus,” he said.Sherron told this news outlet that he agreed with “60 to 70 percent” of the ordinance but would have preferred to discuss it with the city administration as the ordinance was developed.

City Manager Doug Adkins said many of the offenses have been on the books for decades and nothing has changed. He said enforcement officers have always had discretion whether to issue a warning or a citation.Adkins, a former city prosecutor, said due process and an appeals process was included in the ordinance and that training for officers has been scheduled this month before the ordinance takes effect on July 4. He also said similar ordinances have been enacted in other Ohio cities and have survived court challenges.The Middletown ordinance is modeled after one used by the city of Cincinnati.“This is stuff that’s been done in other cities,” Adkins said. “No ordinance is a silver bullet. This will be a tool that will affect some people.”

Still wondering why this focuses on the downtown properties and not the entire city as to enforcement. I don't see any problems with holding property owners accountable, no matter where the properties are located, to provide a reasonable amount of upkeep while the property is vacant or for sale. Gotta cut the grass, cut the weeds down, remove trash, remove peeling paint and tack the gutters back up on the structure as well as demolish any structures that are ready to fall down. It is not unreasonable to expect properties in town to be presentable to the public. We can not allow the city to become a visual disaster. We do have our areas of town that are close to that classification now and the city should not allow it to happen. People should want to clean up their mess. If they can't afford to do so, enlist a church group or social agency for help.
I'm so proud of my hometown and what it has become. Recall 'em all. Let's start over.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote middletownscouter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 07 2019 at 2:06pm
Originally posted by VietVet VietVet wrote:

Still wondering why this focuses on the downtown properties and not the entire city as to enforcement.


It doesn't focus specifically on downtown. The J-N article may have focused on that, but I just went to the city's website, pulled down the workbook for the new legislation and read it. Nowhere in there does it indicate this would be in force for only a specific section of town. It would apply to the entire city.

https://www.cityofmiddletown.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/367?fileID=2240

It's legislative item 11, pages 94 through 112, if anyone wants to read it for themselves.
There are two types of people: those that talk the talk and those that walk the walk. People who walk the walk sometimes talk the talk but most times they don't talk at all, 'cause they walkin.'
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mike_Presta Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 08 2019 at 4:20pm
"The new ordinance, which starts in 30 days, affects buildings and properties within the Urban Core Central zoning district that encompasses downtown Middletown."
“Mulligan said he ... doesn’t believe they necessarily make the return on investment necessary to keep funding them.” …The Middletown Journal, January 30, 2012
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote middletownscouter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 10 2019 at 8:53am
Mike, you're correct. The ordinance 2019-18 does appear to be only downtown. I was looking at the legislation that was referenced in Vet's most recent post, which is city wide.

I was reading back through the minutes from previous meetings, and in the April 2 meeting minutes during all the discussion about the 2019-18 legislation (the downtown vacant building registration requirements) the minutes reflected that someone stated that a similar requirements exist for residential properties. Curious as to what ordinance that is.
There are two types of people: those that talk the talk and those that walk the walk. People who walk the walk sometimes talk the talk but most times they don't talk at all, 'cause they walkin.'
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