Marietta City Council hears citizens

MARIETTA – Marietta City Council on Thursday heard citizens’ comments on a proposed municipal ordinance that establishes fines and penalties for violations of Marietta’s property maintenance code.

Last August council adopted the 2012 version of the International Property Maintenance Code which updated the 1998 IPMC under which the city had been operating.

The IPMC sets standards for maintaining private property within the city limits that are designed to promote safety and help eliminate blight.

Council also created a property code enforcement officer position last fall, but that post has not yet been filled.

Ordinance 4, as originally introduced during council’s Jan. 2 meeting, sets fines for non-compliance with the property code that includes $150 for a first offense, $250 for a second offense, and $500 for a third and subsequent offenses.

But the legislation, which was scheduled for final adoption Thursday, was tabled by Councilman Roger Kalter, D-1st Ward, who chairs council’s planning, zoning, annexation and housing committee.

“I’m asking to table this ordinance until the Feb. 20 meeting at the request of the law director in order to give him time to do some final work on the portion pertaining to junk cars and abandoned vehicles,” Kalter said.

He said a final discussion on provisions of the ordinance will be held during a planning, zoning, annexation and housing committee session on Feb. 18 at 2 p.m. in the second floor conference room at 304 Putnam St. Prior to the tabling of the legislation, Ridge Street resident James Bennett said he was against passage of the property maintenance code.

“I’m opposed to the International Property Maintenance Code and very much opposed to hiring a code enforcement officer,” he said. “It would seem the city’s response (to property issues) is to levy fines against poor people who may not be able to afford to keep their property in good repair.”

Bennett said while he does not advocate living in unsafe conditions, he also does not advocate fining his fellow citizens for property maintenance violations.

He asked council to repeal the IPMC and not to pass the penalty legislation.

But Fourth Street Trish Landsittel said she believes the city needs property code enforcement.

“I’m not advocating going after the poor persons who can barely afford their rent or to pay for home repairs,” she said. “But a lease is a legal agreement that certain people should be held accountable for the type of housing they provide.”

Landsittel said some people have been hurt because the managers of their rental properties, who can afford to make necessary repairs, are not keeping the properties maintained.

In other business Thursday, Charles “Chip” Ditchendorf, who wants to expand his West Side Safe and Gun shop at 205 Pearl St. to include an indoor firing range, said he’s continuing to seek input from neighbors of his business about the proposed range.

“I’ve invited neighbors to come into my shop and look at my plans for this range,” he said. “I want their input, and if they have some good ideas I’m willing to consider making changes.”

Ditchendorf said now is the time for people to have a dialogue with him about the proposed project.

He said the range would be a learning facility to teach firearms safety to people who want to purchase a gun. The range would also be available for local law enforcement practice and certification.

Ditchendorf has said the indoor shooting range would cost an estimated $500,000 and would take about five years to build.

He’s asking city council for a waiver of the portion of city code that prohibits the discharge of firearms within the city limits.