New Philadelphia, Ohio (WJER) - City leaders have approved new building and fire codes that will give the city more leverage over owners of unsightly and unsafe properties.
On Monday, council passed an ordinance allowing the fire chief to issue citations for things like collapsed roofs, inaccessible exterior doors, and junk cars on properties, among other violations.
Chief Jim Parrish says it’s part of the International Property Maintenance Code adopted by council.
“When we have complaints about properties in our community, we want to be able to address those for the homeowners that’ are taking care of their properties,” he says.
The ordinance was passed on its fourth reading after hearing some public concern about the new regulations, but Parrish says the ordinance comes with room for discretion for whoever is issuing the citation.
“There will be an appeals process put in place through the mayor’s office. I am confident he’ll appoint someone along with himself and possibly even the law director to hear that appeal,” he says. “The bottom line is if you have your property cleaned up and maintained, you’re not going to have a problem.”
Parrish says he doesn’t expect to issue many citations. The ordinance just gives the city the ability to enforce standard upkeep requirements.
“We’ve had to do one citation in the entire history of the fire department that I know about,” he said. “We’re not about fining people, we’re about promoting fire safety and safety and health in the community.”
Parrish only plans to pursue owners of unsafe properties and follow up with complaints from neighbors.