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New property code faces uphill battle in council

Bob Morehead

Herald Staff Writer

Norton’s adoption of an international standard of property maintenance codes gaining traction in communities throughout Ohio got a first reading last week but got some pushback in the city council committee work session Feb. 1.

Norton signed off on the standards in 2015 but has not kept up with updates.

“I’m concerned with the sovereignty we’d be giving up as a chartered city,” Councilwoman Charlotte Whipkey said.

“I don’t like how we’re leaving it for some bureaucrats who live in another state to decide these things for us,” Councilman Paul Tousely said.

Tousely also was concerned with a provision that would empower inspectors to enter homes to ensure they are up to code. Councilman Joseph Kernan pointed out that a warrant sworn on probable cause would still be required.

“If our codes are not updated, we will have no legal standing for complaints and we could be liable,” Councilman Dan Karant said. “This will give us a uniform basis to go on.”

The ordinances adopting this code will get a second reading Feb. 8 and council will discuss it further at the next committee session Feb. 16.

Council appointed Kernan and Councilman Jack Gainer to the new housing council required by the state law authorizing Nortons Community Reinvestment Area.

“This was supposed to be up and gathering information in 2015,” city administrator Robert Fowler said. “We need to do this right.”

This board is to meet annually to make recommendations to improve the CRA.

Council is to make two appointments to the board, the mayor two, the Planning Commission one and those five, in turn, will appoint two more. The mayor and Planning Commission were expected to have their appointments by the end of the week, for council to consider at the Feb. 8 meeting.

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