Tipp City considering tougher property maintenance code

Credit: Cosette Gunter

Credit: Cosette Gunter

TIPP CITY – Tipp City Council took a first look at a proposed tougher property maintenance code before saying more study is needed before any changes are considered.

The proposal was drawn up by Mayor Joe Gibson, who also is a lawyer, after councils for years have included property maintenance among priorities during biennial goal setting retreats.

Council has heard many community complaints in recent years about conditions at the Tipp Plaza Shopping Center located just south of Main Street near Interstate 75.

This year, it also heard from residents about the look of the area at and near the I-75 interchange at Main Street. Residents came to meetings armed with photos of and comments on property maintenance including concerns about excess weeds, high grass, old mulch and abandoned and rusted sign frames.

The proposal put together by Gibson looks at both nuisance provisions and the zoning and land use code.

Many of the proposals were not necessarily his, but reflected comments made by community members the past couple of years, Gibson said.

During council’s most recent discussion Oct. 18, a proposed property seizure provision for noncompliance was ruled out. City Law Director Jonathan Freeman said he was not comfortable with that proposal.

Providing proof that seizure of someone’s property is warranted could be tied up in court and, overall, could be extensive and costly, Freeman said.

It would be better, he said, to stiffen penalties. He cautioned, too, that courts often give those cited for property maintenance issues time to address the complaint before having them return to court.

The theme should be to strengthen versus completely change the provisions, Freeman said.

Gibson said he included some proposals more to draw discussion than advocating their inclusion. Not making any changes also is an option, he said.

“I think with the amount of complaints we have been getting, if we don’t do something or attempt to do something, there is going to be repercussions down the road,” Councilman Mike McFarland said.

Council President Katie Berbach suggested that property maintenance code should be the first area tackled. She said city staff and the city planning board should be asked to take a detailed look at proposals and recommend changes to council.

Berbach also asked city staff to provide council with an update on efforts to get the Tipp Plaza owner, who lives out of state, to comply with existing codes. Also requested was information on how other communities have dealt with the same owner.

Council has been reviewing options for an interchange beautification project for a couple of years with a proposal now pending but no consensus on what direction to take, if any. The cost of that proposal, whose goals include a cleaner look with less maintenance, is around $1.2 million.

“Until council decides where they want to go with this project, it is on hold,” City Manager Tim Eggleston said

Council said at its capital improvements budget meeting in September it possibly will revisit the issue to provide information for a new council when it begins its work in January.

Contact this contributing writer at nancykburr@aol.com

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