New Phila establishes Housing Board of Appeals

New Phila establishes Housing Board of Appeals

At the Oct. 11 meeting of city council, New Philadelphia law director Marvin Fete reported having met with the newly established Housing Board of Appeals. Fete called the board another building block in the system of housing and fire codes that allow the city to issue tear-down orders for abandoned properties that are being overtaken by drug users. It is the due-process mechanism for owners of abandoned properties to appeal a tear-down order issued by the city.

In a related matter, Mayor Joel Day said in his report that a house at 481 Fair Ave. previously slated for demolition has been purchased, and the new owner intends to restore it to a livable condition.

“This is the preferred outcome for any property owner who is cited under local codes and the International Property Maintenance Code,” Day said. “Tear-down orders are a last resort.”

Day also reported on fire and EMS calls to date this year. According to Jim Parrish, fire chief, Day said the department has received 2,614 calls, which is 260 more than last year at this time.

Day said 75% of the calls were for emergency medical services, with 32% of those related to mental illness and drug abuse.

On a downward trend is the total fire loss experienced in the city so far this year. According to Day, the fire-loss figure stands at $154,000 compared to $910,020 in 2020. Day said Parrish attributes the improvement to the work of the Fire Prevention Bureau.

Service director Ron McAbier said the third phase of storm sewer upgrade work will begin at the intersection of Countryside and Lakeview on Monday, Oct. 18.

McAbier also reported on the addition of sterile grass carp to the park pond and lagoon and said dredging will be performed seven days a week at the lagoon for the next three weeks.

Safety director Greg Popham said the police department has received more than 75 calls over the past two months related to drug use and mental-health issues. He said fentanyl and crystal meth remain the major drugs of abuse in the city, at least as related to the calls.

Finance committee chair Rob Maurer said the committee met earlier and discussed switching to a different credit card line from Chase Bank. The new line would give the city a larger credit limit, allow the auditor to monitor department credit card usage online and offer cash credit rebates. Maurer asked Fete to draw up an ordinance to that effect.

Maurer said the committee also addressed amending appropriations for the use of an automated payroll system, an increase in the health department force and paying down the airport hangar debt, asking Fete to draft appropriate legislation.

Kelly Ricklic, chair of the safety, health and services committee, reported from an earlier meeting where the ODOT plan to build a shared-use path and a bike lane from 13th Street to downtown was discussed. Ricklic asked for emergency passage of legislation to allow state funding to come through at no expense to the city. He also requested a roll-call vote on a petition for water services to 2430 E. High Ave. Council voted yes.

Cheryl Ramos, chair of the zoning and annexation committee, said Goshen Township trustees met with the committee to continue discussing the annexation of township property into the city as part of the Schoenbrunn Meadows Cemetery.

Ramos said the trustees asked for and the committee agreed to the development of a long-term annexation process and plan. Trustees expressed concerns about how much property the city will want to annex down the road, as property taxes are the township’s only source of revenues.

Legislative agenda

Council passed ordinances to do the following:

—Allow ODOT construction of a shared-use path connecting Kent State Tusc to downtown.

—Install bike lane pavement markings and signage related to the path.

—Allow Day to petition for annexation of parcels of property in Goshen and York townships.

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