By MARC KOVAC
Lawmakers have finalized a law change that would allow townships to clean up repeat nuisance properties more quickly but not before adding a number of provisions, including one honoring bullfrogs and spotted salamanders.
The Ohio Senate passed House Bill 393 last week, and the Ohio House later concurred on a number of amendments, sending the legislation to Gov. Ted Strickland for his signature.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Ronald V. Gerberry of Austintown, D-59th, initially was aimed at helping townships clean up problem properties.
Under current law, townships must send certified letters to the owners and lien holders on properties with overgrown grass, weeds or garbage or that are otherwise considered a nuisance.
Individuals are given seven days to clean up the properties before the townships step in and do the work, charging any costs back to the owners.
Under Gerberry’s bill, townships will still have to go through the notification process the first time a nuisance is identified.
For additional nuisance issues within a 12-month period, they could send notification through regular mail, with owners given four days to comply.
In cases where owners’ addresses are not readily available, a posting on the township’s Internet site will serve as sufficient notice.
The Ohio Senate also added a number of unrelated amendments to the bill, including adopting the spotted salamander as the official state amphibian and the bullfrog as the official state frog.
The amendment prompted a prolonged discussion in the Senate and a failed attempt to remove the salamander and bullfrog wording. Senators waited until receiving assurances from the Ohio House that the wildlife honors were acceptable before approving the bill.