The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

March 6, 2013

Conneaut’s housing chief backs inspection program

CONNEAUT — Conneaut’s top housing official says inspections contained in a proposed occupancy permit program would help Conneaut improve living conditions for residents.

Deanna Gates, planning/zoning manager, told City Council’s finance/ordinance committee Monday night she has witnessed horrific housing conditions that could be addressed with municipal inspections.

“People buy houses on-line and never see them, but then use them for rentals,” Gates said. “I’m shocked that people try to live in these unsafe conditions. There is definitely a need for inspections.”

Council gave the permit program plenty of discussion. As envisioned, one permit per address would be needed when a change in occupancy — via sale or rental — occurs. The permit would be valid for one year, a boon to landlords who anticipate a lot of people coming and going under their roof within a 12-month span.

Gates, who would conduct the inspections, said the duty wouldn’t be a burden. “I’m willing to do it after hours and Saturdays because I recognize it needs to be done,” she said.

For 2013, Gates was moved to full-time status, requiring her to leave a comparable job in Geneva, where she did housing inspections for six years. Reaction to the program in that city varied, she said.

“Some people were really great, while some you had to chase down,” Gates said.

Proponents of the policy said the inspection would be very basic — a simple checklist of a few items. Gates would not climb into attics or poke around crawlspaces to look for plumbing or electrical problems, said City Manager Tim Eggleston.

“We just want to ensure that homes are reasonably safe and clean,” he said.

Councilman-at-large Neil LaRusch, finance/ordinance committee chairman, agreed. “We want to keep it as small as possible to begin,” he said.

In subsequent committee meetings, council and administrators will collaborate on the list of items that would be examined by inspectors, LaRusch said.

The proposed policy would give owners 90 days to fix interior problems that are detected, and 180 days to correct exterior deficiencies. “That is very generous,” Eggleston said.

Ward 3 Councilman Richard McBride asked if the program could result in more vacant property, inferring owners may opt to leave buildings empty rather than make repairs required by the city. “Would you rather see vacant homes or someone living in (bad conditions)?” LaRusch replied.

Council can’t be timid on the inspection issue any longer, LaRusch said.

“(The subject) has been broached in the past, but died on council floor because some council members couldn’t take the pressure,” he said.

Text Only
Local News
Canoe Race and Ashtabula Easter Events
Good Friday Cross Walks and Easter Egg Hunts
Spring Comes Alive
Ashtabula Spring Cleaning
The Taping of the Teacher: A sticky Sitation
Saturday Fun in Ashtabula County March 22, 2014
American Red Cross Ashtabula County Heroes Breakfast
Rotary Club Dodge Ball Tournament
18th Annual Polar Bear Plunge at Geneva State Park
End of year weather extremes
Christmas 2013
Harpersfield Barn Fire
Route 11 Rescue Plymouth Township
Ashtabula Fire
House Ads
AP Video
NDN Video
Grumpy Cat Not Impressed at "Idol" Is Shaquille O'Neal the World's Best Ex-Athlete? Raw: Obama Plays Soccer With Japanese Robot Behind The Tanlines Jersey Strong Part 2 BASE Jumpers Set World Record Screaming 2-year-old gets psyched at Penguins game Pineda: Put pine tar because he didn't want to hit anyone Beyonce on Her Biggest Influence Michael Strahan's First Day on "GMA" Clerk catches on fire after man throws Molotov Cocktail into Brooklyn store Amazon's Deal With HBO Leapfrogs Streaming Rivals Stephen Colbert Tells David Letterman His Plan for 'Late Show' Georgetown police officer filmed tripping students Viral: It's Not Pitbull - It's Amy Poehler! Recycling Highlights for Earth Day Lupita Nyong'o Named People's 'Most Beautiful' Peeps Launched into Outer Space NYPD's Twitter Request For Photos Backfires New HBO Go Commercials Capture Awkward Family TV Watching Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India