Commission discusses possible legislation

By Sam Wildow -

PIQUA — The Piqua City Commission met in a special worksession Thursday evening to discuss possible legislation for condemned buildings and storm water issues.

In regard to condemned buildings, City Manager Gary Huff and City Attorney Stacy Wall presented the idea of adding registration fees for buildings that the Piqua Health Department condemns that the owners of the condemned property would have to pay. The idea continues with the property owners of those condemned buildings having to pay those registration fees annually for as long as the building is condemned and the registration fees could increase year after year.

The reasoning behind this idea is that it would hopefully inspire the property owners of those condemned properties to either fix or sell the property to someone else able to fix the property. That is meant to avoid having a condemned piece of property sit unused and continue to deteriorate over time.

“It’s taking valuable development space,” Huff said. “In some cases, it may take actual legislation to encourage them to take some type of action.”

Wall researched and compiled an extensive list of cities in Ohio that have legislation regarding vacant and/or condemned properties. Huff mentioned the example of Norwood, which implements a yearly registration fee for condemned properties. According to Huff, the fee for the first year is $900 and escalates each year, costing over $3,000 by the fourth year the property has continued to sit in a condemned state.

Wall explained that there are three residential properties in Piqua that have been condemned with the order to either “raze or repair.” Wall explained that the city generally works with the owners in order to get the property fixed, but there is at least one property in Piqua where the owner has reportedly not taken any action for three years. Wall explained that the city recently filed criminal charges against the owner in order to get the owner to act.

Huff mentioned that there are commercial properties that, while they have not been condemned, have sat unused for numerous years, even decades.

The commission agreed to see more information regarding this idea, including possible new legislation to add onto existing legislation for condemned properties. The commission requested to see any new information at another worksession.

The commission also heard the idea of possibly having property owners register their rental properties with the city in order to keep track of the correct people to contact if there is an issue with the property and to make sure that the property is safe for tenants.

Wall used the example of the old Flesh Public Library that was recently condemned. Wall stated that until the Piqua Police Department executed a drug-related search warrant there, the city was unaware that so many people were living there in reportedly deplorable conditions, including electrical and plumbing issues. Wall also said that the actual owners of the property were living in Tennessee and were unaware that their son, who was reportedly living at the old Flesh Public Library, was renting out the rooms there to so many people.

The commission appeared hesitant to pursue this idea. As of press time, there was no clear direction on whether or not the commission would pursue this idea further. Mayor Kazy Hinds suggested hearing possibly more information about what other cities do, but commissioners Judy Terry, Bill Vogt, and John Martin each indicated that they wished to leave the idea of registering rental properties alone.

The commissioners also heard about issues of cut grass at large pieces of property being blown or discarded into the streets and contributing to a build-up of debris in the storm water system. The commission decided not to pursue legislation regarding cut grass being left in the streets, but instead wanted to pursue educating the public and large commercial property owners about the risks of clogging up the storm water system.

By Sam Wildow

Reach reporter Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336

Reach reporter Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336