AURORA — Zoning code chapters dealing with property maintenance standards and registration of rental units were introduced and accepted for study at the planning commission’s Feb. 6 meeting.

Planning-Zoning-Building Director Denise Januska said the maintenance standards chapter stems from citizen complaints over the years about property owners not keeping their premises in good condition.

It requires all dwellings, commercial and industrial structures and surrounding property to be well maintained. The rental registration chapter lists guidelines for registering rental units.

“The exterior of all premises .... shall be maintained so as to avoid any blighting effects on neighboring properties, and shall be painted or protected where necessary for the purpose of preservation,” the first proposed zoning chapter reads.

It details what homeowners must do to address items such as exterior walls and surfaces, painting, landscaping, rubbish and garbage, accessory structures and infestation.

Under the chapter, property owners who do not comply with any of its provisions shall be fined not more than $150 for each offense.

“We want a simple tool to require property owners to keep their premises in good shape,” said Law Director Dean DePiero. “Requirements we have now are loosely worded and difficult to enforce.”

Planning panelists Peter French and Sarah Gilmore said they believe the maintenance standards “are long overdue.”

City Councilman Jim Vaca noted he has opposed proposed exterior maintenance codes in the past, some of which he said were complicated, “but this is simple and a way for the city to take a stand” against unkempt properties.

Councilman Harold Hatridge said he opposes restrictions that are “really intrusive on homeowners,” and “we’ll need to talk extensively about this proposal. It might need some tweaking.”

Januska said the proposed standards would not mean city employees would drive around looking for unkempt properties. “We don’t have the manpower to do that,” she said. “Enforcement would be mostly complaint driven.”

Resident Deb Conti said if the maintenance standards are enacted, she feels a program to help lower-income residents fix up their properties is needed.

“A lot of people want to improve their properties, but don’t have the funds to do so and don’t qualify for other means of aid,” she said. “We need a program to help people financially.”

Meanwhile, Januska explained the rental registration program would enable the city to keep track of rental properties, a concern Council had during its most recent master plan discussions.

That chapter requires rental unit owners to initially register by Dec. 31, 2019 and pay a non-refundable fee of $100 for each rental unit, not to exceed $2,000. Each owner of a new rental structure must register it within 30 days of occupancy.

The rental unit registrations would have to be renewed every two years, with the renewal fee being $25 per unit, not to exceed $2,000. The chapter establishes a fine of not more than $100 for those who fail to register their rental properties.

Vaca said he believes the proposed registration fee is too high, and suggested the every two years registration renewal period be lengthened to perhaps three years or longer.

DePiero said the wording of the two proposed chapters is just a starting point, and tweaking is likely before the panel casts a final vote.

DEMMING ADDITION

A public hearing on a conditional zoning certificate to allow Demming Financial Services to build a 3,500-square-foot addition to its existing 1,564-square-foot building will take place Feb. 20.

The current building — a former railroad depot — sets on a 1.3-acre commercially-zoned parcel beside the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks on New Hudson Road.

A CZC is needed because the addition would encroach into the adjacent R-2 residential zoning district.

The depot was built in 1872 by the New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio Railroad, which eventually became the Cleveland and Mahoning Valley Railroad and in 1941 the Erie Railroad.

Reporter Ken Lahmers can be reached at 330-541-9400 Ext. 4189 or klahmers@recordpub.com