Struthers to step up enforcement of property maintenance
By EMMALEE C. TORISK
Temporary roof coverings, such as tarps, now have a limited lifespan in the city, thanks to council’s recent modification of the residential and commercial property-maintenance codes.
Now, their usage is restricted to 45 days with permission from the city’s safety service director, Ed Wildes. If a longer period of time is needed, an extension may be granted at Wildes’ discretion.
“People were using those temporary coverings as a permanent solution and were never repairing the roofs. It’s ridiculous,” Wildes said. “Our maintenance ordinance didn’t cover anything like tarps.”
Before council’s March 26 adoption of the new language, Section 1379.09 of the city’s residential property-maintenance code and Section 1399.09 of the city’s commercial-property maintenance code pertaining to roofs, gutters and downspouts simply read: “All roofs of every dwelling structure shall be maintained weather-tight and shall be equipped with gutters and downspouts connected to a public storm sewer.”
It became clear over time, though, that the overall “really good property-maintenance code,” as Mayor Terry Stocker described it, just didn’t give the city any recourse to address the unsecured, unsightly tarps it had been receiving so many phone calls about.
“We wanted to give the property-maintenance ordinance more teeth, so that the city can go out and provide more enforcement,” Stocker said.
Now, per the amended ordinances, if Wildes or members of the city’s police department spot a violation, they can take action against the homeowners.
Wildes explained that the first step in that process would be to contact the homeowner and to inquire about the status of the repairs. Failure to complete repairs in a specified amount of time could result in a mandatory court appearance, along with a fine — the amount of which is up to the judge — for the minor-misdemeanor offense. Another citation could lead to a fourth-degree misdemeanor charge, Wildes said.
He added that the city will “give as much leniency” as possible before fining residents, however, particularly if they contact him to explain why making those repairs might be a struggle.
In all, Stocker said the whole issue comes down to residents’ taking pride in their community, and to their being “more cognizant of their surroundings.”
“We have good residents, and we want to make sure everybody is aware what’s allowable and what’s not,” he said. “It maintains all of our property values ... and encourages other people to move to the community, too. It’s everybody working together to make Struthers a great place to live.”