By CHRISTINE KEELING
As the temperature creeps up, so can problems for residents who are trying to cool off without being aware of their community’s zoning rules.
The installation of all types of swimming pools in Youngstown, Canfield and Poland require a zoning permit, for example.
But in Austintown and Boardman, temporary portable pools that are erected after May 1 and removed by Oct. 1 are exempt. Mahoning County residents, who don’t live in Youngstown, are also required to purchase a $25 building permit for pools with water deeper than
24 inches. “Kiddie” pools with less than 24 inches of water are not regulated.
Nilda Martinez, of Youngstown, said she set up a pool at her Taft Avenue home and within a week received a letter from the Youngstown Zoning Department letting her know she needed to
obtain a zoning permit and erect a fence around the pool.
“My son drained the water that day,” said Martinez. “I didn’t want trouble.”
The following Monday, she purchased a pool permit and building permit and began pricing fencing. Martinez said it will cost her an addition $800 to comply with the zoning rules.
Specialist Ray DeCarlo said pool owners in Youngstown must obtain a $10 zoning permit, abide by placement
restrictions, as well as provide a 6-foot-high enclosure fence and screening
device around the entire pool.
Access to the water must be through the residence or through a self-closing and child-proof gate only.
“The law has been a law for a long time,” said DeCarlo. “We didn’t just make it up.”
So far this year, DeCarlo said 12 letters have been sent to residents whose pool violated zoning rules. He said 10 people have complied by
either removing the structure or fencing it in. Two people are appealing.
He said that Youngstown zoning rules are in the process of being revised. Residents are invited to attend neighborhood zoning meetings through Aug. 4.
“It’s not about the money,” said DeCarlo. “It’s the safety issue.”
He said some city residents have temporary pools in their front yards.
Florence Steiner has lived in her Wick Avenue home for 50 years and said she has had a pool in her front yard off and on for 30 years.
She was unaware of any zoning rules regarding swimming pools, but would move it to her back, fenced in yard if she was approached by zoning officials.
“I never heard of such a thing,” said Steiner when told of the zoning rules. “If it was a city pool I could see it, but it’s for family.”
She said she didn’t place the pool in the backyard when she set it up July 1 because raccoons wandered the area during the day.
She said she has raised nine children throughout the years and now takes care of grandchildren and has never had a problem with owning a pool.
“Everyone is happy,” said Steiner.
In Canfield, zoning inspector Dave Morrison said reasonable prices and easy availability is allowing temporary pools to “pop up like mushrooms.”
Morrison said Canfield residents who plan to add a pool must purchase a zoning permit, erect a 4-foot, 6-inch fence around the pool and remove or block access to the water when it’s left unattended. A permit will cost the homeowner $20 for pools valued at less than $3,500. Owners who forgo the step can be charged an additional $25 if caught.
He said regulating swimming pools is difficult because they are often behind homes — making it impossible to see them.
Zoning inspector Bob Monus said there are no zoning regulations with regard to fencing a temporary pool in Poland Township.
According to zoning rules, Poland Township residents who own temporary pools can’t install them prior to May 1 and must remove them by Oct. 31 of the same year. The structures must be located in the rear of the lot with all components, including deck areas and
patios, located at least 10 feet from all property lines. Pool owners must obtain a permit each year.
In Austintown and Boardman townships, residents are not required to purchase a permit for pools erected after May 1 and dismantled by Oct. 1. Zoning rules for the communities do state that temporary pools must be located in the rear of the residence, 10 feet from property lines.
“Homeowners are responsible that no one gets hurt,” said Darrin Crivelli, Austintown’s zoning inspector.
On average, 34 Ohio children age 1 to 19 drown each year, according to the Ohio Department of Health,
Office of Vital Statistics. More than 30 percent of drowning deaths involving children age 1 to 9 occur in swimming pools.
Jeffrey Uroseva, Mahoning County Building
Department official, said zoning departments tell residents where a pool can be built and the building
department tells them how to build it.
Uroseva said some of the county building codes for swimming pools include the necessity to have a
48-inch barrier for all pools with water over 24 inches, and not being allowed to use an extension cord to operate the filter. Pool walls can act as a barrier if they meet the height requirement. He said owners of temporary pools must obtain a building permit each year they put their pool up. This year, the building department has issued 53 permits for inground and above-ground pools throughout Mahoning County.
Youngstown neighborhood zoning meetings:
Monday: Kirkmere at Volney Rogers Middle School, 2400 S. Schenley Ave., 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday: Erie, Flint Hill, lower Gibson, Oak Hill and Warren Avenue at Oakhill Renaissance Place, 345 Oak Hill Ave., 6:30 to 8 p.m.
Thursday: East High, East Side and Hazelton at East High School, 474 Bennington Ave.,
6 to 7:30 p.m.
July 25: Belle Vista and Schenley at Mill Creek Davis Center, 123 McKinley Ave., 7 to
July 26: Cottage Grove, Idora, Newport and Pleasant Grove at Newport Branch Library, 3730 Market St.,
6 to 7:30 p.m.
July 28: Lansdowne and McGuffey Heights at Association Neighborhood Center, 1649 Jacobs Road, 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 1: Arlington Heights, downtown, Mahoning Commons, Riverbend, Smoky Hollow and YSU at Trinity United Methodist Church, 30 W. Front St., 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 4: Brier Hill, North Heights and Wick Park at Wick Park Recreation Center, 260 Park Ave., 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Source: Youngstown Zoning Department