Oakwood updates property code to protect home, business values

OAKWOOD — The first extensive update to the city’s property maintenance code in nearly 20 years will take effect next month.

“It’s really important to a town like Oakwood with an aging housing stock just to further protect those property values,” said Jennifer Wilder, city personnel and properties director. The goal, she said, is “to gain compliance with the code, rather than to penalize property owners.”

Changing the city’s property maintenance code “is the first comprehensive redo” since 2003 for guidelines governing all commercial properties and homes, Oakwood Law Director Robert Jacques said.

That includes about 3,500 residential properties in 2.2 square miles that saw almost $14 million in real estate reinvestment last year, officials said.

Legislation approved by city council this week is “intended to streamline the administration” of the code, “but not to make any major substantial changes,” Oakwood Vice Mayor Steve Byington said.

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The new guidelines starting the first week of April do not involve higher fees or penalties, Jacques said. But they will include more uniform deadlines for violators, he said.

“Under the (current) code, there were some ... provisions that if you got a letter for this, you had 10 days to respond. If you got a letter for something else, you had 15 days to respond,” he said. “For something else, it might be 30 days to respond.”

With the changes, Jacques said, “all of the waiting periods are fairly similar. ... And for certain things we also changed things to a “reasonable” period of time instead of a fixed period of time.”

Last year, Oakwood sent 150 violation letters, mainly for issues involving overgrown vegetation and chipped paint, said Jennifer Wilder, city personnel and properties director.

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Beginning next month, Jacques said, “when we use the reasonable period of time, we might give you a week to get your honeysuckle trimmed. But we’re not going to give you a week to paint your house. We would have some discretion to extend that out longer.”

Oakwood’s property code includes presale and rental inspections, which the city has had since the late-1960s, officials said.

That program helps ensure “properties are code compliant at the time of sale or brought into compliance shortly thereafter,” Wilder said.

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