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West Carrollton Board of Zoning Appeals Sends Rental Inspection Proposal to City Council | By: Fellow GDREIA Members

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West Carrollton's Board of Zoning Appeals Sends Rental Inspection Proposal to City Council

Next stop for West Carrollton’s rental inspection proposal is City Council, following a recommendation from the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals July 14. The board recommended passage of a revised version of the proposal.

West Carrollton City Council is expected to begin its study of the measure July 26, said city spokesperson Erika Mattingly.

At its July 14 meeting, members of the Board of Zoning Appeals put questions about the proposal to the city staffers, including the law director, planning director and chief code enforcement officer.

Passage of the program in its present form would impose new requirements on rental property owners – including a mandatory city license to operate rental property, an annual $30 license fee, mandatory inspections of rental properties and a schedule of fines and criminal penalties for non-compliance.

If West Carrollton adopts the ordinance, it will become the third municipality in Montgomery County to inaugurate a rental inspection program, zoning board members were told at the July 14 meeting. Other cities in the county conduct housing inspections in response to complaints, said Greg Gaines, West Carrollton’s planning director.

The license fees are expected to raise $70,000 annually, according to a news release posted on West Carrollton’s city government website. “The primary goal of the program is to discourage lax property management and deter landlord absenteeism,” Carl Enterman, the city’s chief code enforcement officer, is quoted in the news release.

Members of GDREIA who attended the zoning appeals board hearing were skeptical.

“I think the goal is to increase funding and authority for the city’s code enforcement department,” said Marsha Grosmann, former GDREIA president.

“The code enforcement officer (Enterman) told the zoning appeals board about recent, severe cuts to his department’s funding. He also said he plans to hire additional property inspectors,” Grosmann said.

Program fees would “cover the costs of hiring two part-time code enforcement officers to inspect approximately 1,000 properties each year,” according to the city’s online news release.

During his presentation to the zoning appeals board, Enterman said that during a four-year period, 65 percent of housing code violations occurred in rental properties.

In the hallway following the meeting, one investor could be heard saying that the statistic omitted crucial information – a breakout of the specific types of violations that occurred.

“I’ll bet a great majority of those violations were for tall grass or other minor things,” the investor said. “It’s hard to tell without a more specific report,” she added.

GDREIA President Tim Depp was left frustrated by the zoning board’s recommendation for the program’s passage.

“Rent in West Carrollton just went up,” he said. “This program is unlikely to improve conditions much, but it will create a new expense for rental property operators. It may not cost much at the beginning, but just wait a few years,” Depp said.

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