Marietta council to discuss new officer

MARIETTA – Legislation establishing a department of property maintenance and code enforcement officer position and a resolution regarding a proposed indoor shooting range are expected to be introduced during next week’s Marietta City Council meeting.

Both issues were discussed during council committee sessions Tuesday afternoon.

“On Aug. 1 council voted to adopt the 2012 version of the International Property Maintenance Code, and that code became effective Sept. 1. But we do not have a code enforcement officer,” Councilman Roger Kalter, D-1st Ward, told his planning, zoning, annexation and housing committee.

He said the city administration and law director have put together a job description for the part-time position that would pay $15/hour with a maximum 29 hours a week.

City law director Paul Bertram III said a property maintenance department would first have to be created by legislation that would include creation of the code enforcement position and set penalties for violations of the code.

“The code enforcement officer would be hired into the property maintenance department and would report directly to the city safety-service director,” he said.

Bertram said the legislation could be ready for introduction during the next regular council meeting at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 21 in the community building at Lookout Park.

Kalter noted council hopes to have the code enforcement officer in place by Jan. 1.

“We’re not looking for someone who will be carrying a baseball bat to enforce property maintenance,” he said. “And code enforcement will have to be a team effort.”

Kalter said the new officer would be interacting with officials from the city fire department, health department, police, and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to provide property code enforcement.

He said the property maintenance code and ability to enforce the code is necessary to help prevent the safety hazards posed by abandoned and deteriorating properties.

Also on Tuesday, local businessman Chip Ditchendorf asked for council’s support as he plans to build an indoor shooting range in the 200 block of Pearl Street in the Harmar District.

He said many people are purchasing handguns and obtaining conceal and carry permits, but have little to no knowledge about safely handling a firearm.

“Owning a handgun is a huge responsibility, and this indoor range could be used for firearm safety education as well as certification for police officers,” Ditchendorf said.

He said the building, which could take up to three years to construct, would be a two-story structure 35 feet wide and 60 feet long. The facility would be designed to produce low noise and would not use traditional lead ammunition, but rounds made of a more environmentally friendly copper and alloy mixture.

Councilman Michael Mullen, I-at large, said indoor shooting ranges are located in many other cities.

“And handgun safety comes with practice,” he said. “This would not only be a new business, but it would provide a needed service to teach the safe handling of firearms.”

Marietta Police Officer Rod Hupp noted he and fellow officers have to travel a half-hour each way to access the nearest outdoor shooting range for certification, and the indoor range proposed by Ditchendorf would be much more convenient.

Bertram said he would develop legislation supporting the proposed indoor range for introduction during next week’s council meeting, but he said a public hearing should be scheduled before a second reading to receive comments from the neighborhood in which the range would be located.

Ditchendorf said he expects the project could cost around $500,000.