Friday, October 10, 2008

Two proposed ordinances meant to address Cincinnati blight

The City of Cincinnati is considering two ordinances that would amend Chapter 1101 of the Cincinnati Municipal Code, which could have a marked effect in addressing the problem of blighted and nuisance properties.

The first ordinance would create a new Board of Housing Appeals, a body that would address building code notices, decisions or orders from the Department of Community Development and issued by code officials from the Division of Property Maintenance Inspections.

Decisions related to the Vacated Building Maintenance License (VBML) would be included, including requests for waivers from license requirements that could act as a burden to building rehabilitation.

The Board of Building Appeals currently handles appeals related to the housing code, in addition to appeals related to new construction.

And under the Ohio Revised Code, the Board of Housing Appeals will also serve as a Community Reinvestment Area Housing Council.

The seven-member body would consist of two mayoral appointees, two council appointees, and one Cincinnati Planning Commission appointee, plus two additional members selected by the previous appointees.

The chair would be appointed by the city manager.

Meetings of the board would be open to the public.

The second ordinance would remove the $300 surcharge fees associated with the demolition of vacated buildings, if the site is restored within one year of payment of VBML fees.

Currently, fees associated with the VBML are not refunded when a building is demolished.

Originally included in the municipal code to protect buildings that could be rehabilitated, City experience has shown that the vast majority of the buildings that are demolished are functionally obsolete and cannot be rehabilitated cost-effectively.

According to City administration, many blighted, obsolete buildings are not being razed privately because the lack of a refund is acting as a disincentive.