CONNEAUT — An opponent of Conneaut’s now-scrapped occupancy permit program said he stands by his offer to help create a committee to deal with the city’s substandard houses.

Robert Naylor, a city attorney and landlord, said Tuesday he is willing to help organize the committee he suggested as an alternative to the controversial permit plan.

Meanwhile, Conneaut Law Director Lori Lamer said she was “somewhat disappointed” in City Council’s 4-3 defeat of legislation that would have created the program. More than a year of debate preceded the ordinance.

“Everyone put a lot of time and effort (into the matter),” Lamer said. “It was the best program we could create.”

The measure would have required landlords to obtain a permit from the city before renting their units. No permit would be issued without an inspection.

Council defeated the measure, which had been tabled since late July. Members explored the program as a way to address substandard buildings in the city. Landlords objected to the fee structure and said the measure was discriminatory.

Opponents also said they feared the city’s general fund would be tapped to keep the program afloat. Administrators said registration and inspection fees would support the plan for at least two years.

Naylor, who attended many council meetings to discuss the program, had suggested council appoint a committee composed of landlords, representatives of financial institutions and others to examine housing problems. Financial people should be consulted because some of the structures are bank-owned or in foreclosure, he said.

“The problem didn’t go away because the legislation (was defeated),” he said Tuesday. “There (is) still a problem with areas of housing. A committee could confirm what the problem is.”

The examination should look beyond rental units, Naylor said.

“I would hope (the committee) would recognize that problems go beyond rentals,” he said.

Council President James Jones, after Monday’s meeting, said he would be willing to take Naylor up on his suggestion.

Lamer said she doubted whether a committee could have an impact.

“I don’t think it will make any difference, at all,” she said. “We don’t need an ad hoc committee. We need somebody who will do nothing but code enforcement, but the city doesn’t have the money.”

Even though the permit plan was rejected, some good came from the many months of debate, Naylor said.

“There is significant community awareness of a problem,” he said.

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