Meeting planned on property maintenance code in Jerusalem Twp.

Kelly J. Kaczala

       Jerusalem Township trustees are reviewing a draft property maintenance code that was passed by its zoning commission.
        Trustee Mark Sattler said a special meeting will be scheduled in the future to review the code with the public.
        “There’s an international standard for a property maintenance code,” said Sattler.  “The Lucas County building inspector had recommended to us that we supplement our zoning regulations with a property maintenance code. If you cite a property owner for blight issues, people want to know exactly why. Our zoning board can describe what kinds of things contribute to blight, but the property maintenance code has very good definitions about exactly how the exterior of the property is to be maintained.
        “For example, if you see a house that still has fabric wrapped over wood boards that you see when it is being constructed before it is finished out with siding, it is not acceptable. So the property maintenance code is much clearer about how people are expected to maintain their exterior.”
        A list of concerns from some residents has been circulated online, many of which are just rumor and not based in fact, said Sattler. For instance, the list states that trustees will vote to implement Sylvania Township’s zoning code. Sattler said it is false.
        “It’s not correct,” he said. About 35 residents went to a recent Jerusalem Township trustee meeting to voice their concerns.
        “There were several individuals who tried to stir up social media by incorrectly stating that Sylvania Township’s zoning rules had been adopted. That’s not the case. Our zoning commission spent over six months working their way through the property maintenance code. It was recommended by the Lucas County building inspector that we would want to use an existing property maintenance code in a Lucas County jurisdiction because it will already have been through Lucas County reviews, and you don’t have to reinvent the wheel that way. But we did not wholesale adopt the Sylvania Township property maintenance code,” said Sattler.
        “There are a lot of people who have very nice properties who live in Jerusalem Township. There are people who live out here because they choose to be in natural surroundings. They keep their properties looking neat and tidy and they want their neighbors to do the same. Nobody wants a rundown property next to them with vermin going in and out of cracks in the walls, unfinished exteriors, multiple rusting junk and inoperable vehicles sitting in yards. Nobody wants that next door to them. That is part of what the property maintenance code is intended to address,” said Sattler.
No authority
        Another concern on the list: Does the zoning inspector have the authority to set foot on private property without consent or warrant?
        “Absolutely not,” said Sattler. “This doesn’t give any more authority than we ever had. If you knock on a property owner’s door and ask to come in or speak with them, and they say `No,’ OK. Goodbye. But if emergency services personnel, such as police or fire, think there is a situation occurring that they need to get inside and there is a risk to life, that’s always been the case. Nothing has changed. But for zoning issues, it does not give the government the ability to raid your home. Unfortunately, an individual got on social media and posted accusations and assertions, where he asked and answered his own questions, but they are incorrect.”
        The property maintenance code is posted on the Jerusalem Township website. “You can go to our website, go to the zoning tab under government, scroll toward the bottom, and you can read all 13 pages in four chapters,” said Sattler.
        Approval of the property maintenance code is a two-step process, he said.
        “The zoning board passed it, and forwarded it to trustees for approval. So it’s not enforced. Our township attorney is in the process of reviewing the draft property maintenance code. When he has completed his review, the trustees will call a special meeting. We encourage as many people as possible to come. The only topic will be the proposed property maintenance code. We’ll basically walk the public all the way through all four chapters, explain line by line, and we’ll have our attorney present to help answer questions. Then we’ll have a question and answer session where the public can ask as many questions as they wish and we’ll answer everything we possibly can,” said Sattler.


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