The city of Warsaw reviewed a neighborhood preservation and rental registration agreement Monday.
The meeting was called to provide information after recent public opposition to the ordinance. Approximately 40 homeowners, landlords and residents attended the meeting to express their concern with the draft ordinance.
There will be future meetings on the draft with public input, but specific dates and times have not yet been set.
Joe Thallemer, Warsaw mayor, said the goal of the ordinance is to develop an ordinance that protects landlords, homeowners and tenants.
Thallemer reminded citizens the ordinance is only a draft and their will be changes made.
“We will take as much time as we need to get this right,” Thallemer said.
“We are trying to come up with an ordinance that meets the needs of the entire community.”
A Facebook page called “KC Gov’t Watch” expressed concern with the ordinance. According to the Facebook page, “Kosciusko County Gov’t Watch is dedicated to educating citizens on local issues. Issues such as tax increases, bigger government and over regulation.”
The government watch group asked the city to remove all homeowner-occupied portions of the neighborhood preservation and landlord registration ordinance.
Monica Boyer, Kosciusko Silent No More co-founder, said the document is unconstitutional because the city would be allowed to enter residents’ homes for inspections and fine residents.
“I have a 100 year old house and my house would not pass any of these things and I don’t feel you have to right to tell me as a homeowner what I have to do with my property,” Boyer said during Monday’s meeting.
Boyer said the ordinance draft is ambiguous and she requested the home owner occupied portion be taken out.
Bruce Woodward, Woodward Realty, said he supported the ordinance.
“One of the reasons I moved out of town was because the houses were coming down around me and in a state of disrepair and I wanted to get out of town before my property lost any value,” Woodward said.
“That is what is driving me to say we need this ordinance.”
Tressa Nichols, Warsaw, said she supported regulation of government assisted housing because if the government is giving someone money the residents should abide by certain standards. She however did not want the homeowner occupied portion in the ordinance.
She also had concern with the $5,000 proposed fine for a person who fails to register their rental properties.
Terry Wood, Warsaw, suggested the city talk to Goshen officials whose ordinance Warsaw has reviewed to see if property assessed values have gone up, if crime was reduced and if neighborhoods were preserved by the ordinance.
Brad Skiles, Warsaw, said he felt the ordinance is growing and not shrinking government.
James Breading, Warsaw, asked what kind of qualifications those who inspect rental properties must meet.
Jeremy Skinner, city planner, said the city’s building commissioner and inspector will do the inspections.
Mike Brubaker, Warsaw-Wayne Township fire chief, said the ordinance is for safety reasons to verify the number of units in rentals.
Jeff Grose, city councilman, said the city is drafting guidelines for its leaders to follow.
“We are trying for an ordinance to serve where everyone is accountable,” Grose said.
Skinner reviewed the 21-page document and said only rental units not exempt by state code will be inspected on a one-time basis to develop a data base of rental properties.
“The point of the ordinance is to get compliance, not fine people,” Skinner said. Skinner said the city’s hearing officer is how the city gets compliance.
Skinner said the purpose of the ordinance is to address rental properties in Warsaw, identify all rental properties, create a data base of rental properties, inspect units to ensure they meet minimum housing standards, and define and create objectives to ensure they meet minimum housing standards.
The plan has a minimum standards for all structures section that states no building, accessory building or garage whether used for residential, commercial, industrial or other purposes shall fail to comply with the following requirements: every supplied facility, piece of equipment or utility which is required under the ordinance shall be constructed or installed that it will function safely and effectively and be maintained in satisfactory working condition.
There is an inspection section that states building inspectors are authorized and directed to make inspections to determine the condition of dwellings, dwelling units, rooming units, any other building or structure, and premises located within the city of Warsaw in order that they may perform their duties of safeguarding the health and safety of the occupants and the general public.
The ordinance states building inspectors are authorized to enter, examine, and survey at all reasonable times all rental units. The owner or the owners’ representative of every rental unit must give the building inspector free access to the rental unit and its premises al all reasonable times for the proposed of inspection, examination and survey.
The ordinance states the owner must be entitled to 72 hours written notice from the building inspector prior to conducting the inspection, examination or survey.
A minimum standards for basic equipment and facilities section states every dwelling unit must contain a sink in good working condition and every dwelling must contain a room which affords privacy to a person equipped with a flushed toilet and a bathroom sink in good working condition. There is a minimum standards for light, ventilation, egress and heating. A safe and sanitary maintenance section states the exterior doors and every exterior window must be supplied with a lock.
(Story By The Times Union)