SIDNEY – City Council heard an introduction to an ordinance regarding the rental registration program and was joined by over three dozen concerned citizens in the audience during the Monday, Nov. 28, meeting.
Sidney landlords questioned council members and staff about the point of implementing the program, the benefits, why only rentals are involved, how many complaints the city has received, the other communities that have similar programs, and the penalties for offenses. Some landlords called the program “government overreach,” some said the motivation from the city must be for the money, and others suggested a committee of landlords to work with the city on a solution. The room erupted multiple times in conversation and Mayor Mardie Milligan had to frequently regain control.
“The motivation from council is to make sure that everybody that is renting in town has a safe place to rent. Our job is to make sure that before that person moves in, that the place is good. We feel as though this will help people live in safe conditions. If we didn’t believe that we wouldn’t be doing this,” Milligan said. “This is not a money maker for the city of Sidney by any means. This is a way that we will be probably putting in as much if not more than what there will be fees collected. And we’re doing that because we believe the program is going to make a difference.”
City Manager Andrew Bowsher cited Piqua, Troy and Covington as some of the nearby cities considering a similar program, and Vacant Property Inspector Kyle Havenar said staff based the program off of similar programs in Bowling Green and Centerville and Sidney would be the first in the area to implement it. Law Director David Busick recommended the penalties for violations, which include fines and/or jail time, and explained the penalties are harsher because he has had experience with landlords who don’t change because of weak penalties.
Bowsher said key stakeholders met a year ago to discuss the housing problems in Sidney, and they thought there was a need for more multi-family housing and a way to hold landlords accountable.
“What we’re doing is not working, and it has not been working for 20 plus years,” Bowsher said. “The only way we’re all gonna raise up is if we all get on the same tide, we all get on the same page. I think we can all agree that there’s bad landlords that are out there, and I’m not saying that they’re in this room, but there are, or we wouldn’t be getting the complaints.”
At the end of the public comments, Milligan moved to postpone the discussion for another meeting, and the motion was approved by the council. Landlords in attendance had the opportunity to give their contact information to Community Development Director Barbara Dulworth so there could be a committee formed of five or six landlords for further discussion. Councilmember Scott Roddy volunteered to be a part of the committee.
The council also approved the October 2022 summary financial report, adopted seven ordinances – which were introduced at the Nov. 14 meeting – and one resolution pertaining to changing the subdivision of two lots. According to City Planner Tim Hurysz, Choice One Engineering, on behalf of Fairway 57 Holdings LLC, requested combining two lots to make one lot. The lot is located in the R-3 residential multi-family zone in the northeast corner of Fourth Avenue and Countryside Lane. Both lots are currently undeveloped and total 1.654 acres. The planning commission reviewed this at its Nov. 21 meeting and recommended approval.
During the discussion section, Bowsher presented a liquor license transfer request for the Sunoco Gas Station at 2006 W. Michigan St. from Norman W. Frantom DBA Frantom Sunoco to 1313 Petroleum Inc. The two permits allow for the business to sell beer, wine and mixed beverages in original sealed containers for carry-out. The council was silent on the issue, which indicated they consented to the change.
The continuation of downtown parking amnesty was also discussed pertaining to legislation initially adopted in 2019 that eliminated parking time limits downtown. The council previously extended the program four times and introducing overnight parking and adding a parking structure has been discussed. All council members agreed on a one-year extension until Jan. 1, 2024, and legislation on the matter will be presented during the Dec. 12 meeting.
During staff comments, Dulworth mentioned that the Ohio Department of Development’s Office of Community Development (OCD) had recommended funding for the city’s Program Year 2022 Community Housing Impact and Preservation Lead Abatement Program (CHIP-LAP) application. The award amount for the city was $53,100.
Councilmember Jenny VanMatre was not present at the meeting and was excused by the council.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.