LOGAN — The Logan Fire Department may begin searching for a code enforcement officer who will work on a contractual basis if Logan City Council approves funding for the position at its meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 11.
Logan Fire Chief Brian Robertson said a new code enforcement officer would ensure buildings within the city meet guidelines established by the Ohio Department of Commerce, and also complete annual foster home and school inspections.
The Logan City Finance Committee recommended to council members that $10,000 be allocated to fund the position, with the belief that fees and citations will help make the position self-sustaining.
Members of Logan Town Center are in favor of the proposal, including Rick Webb and Jane McAdow, who recently attended a city council meeting in support of the measure.
“We personally, and as a group, support enforcement of the city codes, and the hiring of the enforcement officer,” McAdow said.
LTC, which is dedicated to revitalization of the downtown area, believes that such a position might help clearly enforce any future code ordinances that city council might enact in the future.
In October, LTC members met with Jeff Siegler, who is the director of revitalization for Heritage Ohio, which works with communities across the state to help revitalize their historic or traditional commercial properties.
Siegler said at the October LTC meeting that municipalities throughout the state and country are enacting new ordinances or enforcing existing ordinances centered on the registration of vacant buildings or properties.
“It’s called the Vacant Property Registry,” Siegler said. “If a building is standing empty, the property owner must sign this registry and pay an $800 [annual] fee. Upon signing the registry, the property owner agrees to maintain, lease or sell the property within a year, and if the property owner has not lived up to this agreement, he must sign again and the fee is at that point doubled.”
Siegler stated that such ordinances have been enacted in Painesville and Sandusky near Lake Erie. The purpose of the ordinance is to establish a program for identifying and registering vacant residential and commercial buildings; to determine the responsibilities of owners of vacant buildings and structures; and to speed the rehabilitation of the vacant buildings.
Logan Mayor Martin Irvine is reportedly reviewing the ordinances in other communities where these have been in effect, but it’s too soon to tell if any recommendations will be made to Logan City Council.
Members of LTC have been advocating to Logan City Council in recent weeks, with the hope of gaining increased participation by council in LTC activities and projects.
“We would hope to have council’s continued participation with LTC to help us address some of these issues that have been plaguing downtown for a long time,” said LTC member Dennis Heebink at a council meeting last month.
“That isn’t to say we don’t have a lot of good things going on,” he added, noting that In the Zone recently opened on Main Street, the Hocking Hills Banking Center opened in late 2011, and the new building located at the corner of Main and Mulberry Street which will be the future home of the Logan-Hocking Chamber of Commerce is scheduled to open in December.
“We’ve got a lot of other issues to address in downtown,” Heebink noted. “Logan Town Center is very anxious to work with city council to start making some meaningful progress, particularly in the area of redevelopment of some of the buildings and economic development to create jobs in downtown businesses.”
Earlier this year, LTC struggled to receive the support of council members when they proposed a historic zoning overlay district which would have worked in conjunction with the historic designation which placed Downtown Logan on the National Registry of Historic Places in June 2010.
The proposal for the historic zoning overlay district was first made in February and included a provision which would establish a design review board that would guide property owners in learning about the features that best fit their building based on the year it was originally constructed. The board would offer assistance to owners who were considering construction, without mandating owners what changes to make.
At the time, council members insisted on having the support of downtown businesses and property owners before making any sweeping changes.
Ultimately, the proposal was never enacted.
LTC member Rick Webb said on Wednesday evening, though, that the cost of not doing anything to help the downtown would hurt the overall community in the grand scheme of things, because businesses looking to move into the area want to see a thriving, vibrant downtown area.