Steubenville Council gets building code tutorial

STEUBENVILLE — City Council on Tuesday listened to Urban Projects Director Chris Petrossi explain how the city’s building code violation enforcement process works.

Petrossi said when an inspector finds a violation, which is done from an inspection from the street, the inspector researches for ownership of the property, prepares the violation notice and sends it.

The person is given 30 days to comply and is cited into municipal court if compliance isn’t made. Municipal court holds housing court once a month and hears as many cases as possible, though Petrossi noted the caseload can be heavy. Since 2008, the city has issued 1,570 code cases, including 130 in 2017 and 78 in the inspectors’ hands so far this year.

He said the 30-day compliance can be shortened in cases of danger to life or property, and some minor violations can be solved more quickly.

Building Inspector Ron Gaylord noted state law says the notice of violation requires a 30-day period for due process.

And, Petrossi said, there are cases where the enforcement process just doesn’t work.

“If we cannot locate the owner, or if the owner is deceased and there is no estate, if there is a tax foreclosure or if the owner is out of state or out of the area, we can still file the charge in municipal court,” he said. “But, if the owner doesn’t appear, there really isn’t anything left for us to do. We can’t bring the owner here.”

He said the majority of those unresolveable cases end up on the city demolition list.

Petrossi also reported having seven applicants that meet income guidelines to use the Community Housing Improvement Program funds from the state of Ohio. The city received $250,000 to pay for owner-occupied structure rehabilitation projects. The application period ran from Jan. 8 through the end of April. He said if the projects are able to be done, they will use up the available funding and the city will apply for more. Petrossi said there’s always the possibility that some of the homes on the list will cost more than available grant money and would be rejected.

In other actions:

• Council approved the bidding for the 2018 pavement marking program, heard a second reading of an ordinance to pay expenditures without a purchase order that were more than $3,000 under state law and passed an amendment to a contract with HDR Engineering to meet state environmental requirements for using peracetic acid to treat combined stormwater and sanitary runoff during heavy rains.

• Fourth Ward Councilman Eric Timmons introduced a resolution honoring City Police Patrolmen Lucas Powell and Matt Smarella and Jefferson County Sheriff’s Lt. Joe Lamantia for saving a woman from a house fire last Thursday. Timmons also introduced a resolution honoring Tri-State Printing and owner Richard Pflug for receiving an excellence in small business award from the Eastern Ohio Development Alliance.

• Sixth Ward Councilman Bob Villamagna introduced a resolution proclaiming May 15 as Peace Officer Memorial Day and one marking May as Motorcycle Awareness Month.

• Councilwoman at large Kimberly Hahn introduced a resolution authorizing applying for a NatureWorks grant for the recreation department, as well as one commending Lowe’s Home Improvements for its contributions to the renovations at the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center.

• Hahn requested a parks committee meeting for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

• City Manager Jim Mavromatis said two summer employees out of three open slots have been hired for the recreation department, and three of six for the maintenance department have been hired. Mavromatis also reported the city will help support the First Fridays on Fourth, which begin Friday evening, with closing Fourth Street from Market to Washington streets, providing trash receptacles and having special police patrols on duty.

• Law Director Costa Mastros said an executive session will be scheduled in the next few weeks for a teleconference with the city’s labor attorney to go over finalization of the city’s police contract.

• Mavromatis said resident complaints about large trucks speeding through Country Club Hills will be addressed with enforcement, and Villamagna suggested making a call to the trucking companies involved to have them stop driving through the neighborhood. Trucks are posted as prohibited in Country Club Hills.

(Giannamore can be contacted at pgiannamore@heraldstaronline.com.)

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