Tuesday, July 17, 2001
Covington's arsenal grows in blight fight
By Amanda York
The Cincinnati Enquirer
COVINGTON The city has a new weapon to use in the fight against unsightly properties. Since its beginning in November, the Code Enforcement Board, a six-member panel that takes action against negligent property owners, has heard 113 cases, said Howard Hodge, housing development director.
The City Commission has set housing code enforcement as a top priority, and this was an addition to the arsenal of weapons the city can use to fight blighted properties, Mr. Hodge said.
One property owner last week was ordered to pay $2,000, the largest fine issued so far, for general deterioration on the inside and outside, he said.
Mr. Hodge said the owner of the property in the 400 block of Greenup Street, near the historic Licking-Riverside district, could have been fined as much as $25,000.
The owner, Carl Arlinghaus of Fort Mitchell, says he plans to sell it to Classic Properties, a company that redevelops houses.
Mr. Hodge said the property needed to be totally gutted and renovated.
Board chairman Keith Bales said the house was not atypical among those the committee deals with.
The building, however, sits in a high-profile area.
All the other older buildings in the neighborhood have been renovated, Mr. Bales said.
It is the only blighted one in that general area, he said.
Besides Mr. Arlinghaus' fine, Mr. Hodge said, four other fines, ranging from $100 to $300, have been issued to property own-
In the past, housing code violations went through District Court.
The new system works more quickly.
With continuances after continuances (in the court system), we deal with things in a much quicker manner, and we are getting great compliance, Mr. Bales said.
The city issues citations for noncompliance.
Property owners then have the right to appeal the citation to the board.
The board decides whether to let the citation stand.
Board members meet twice a month.
If the citation stands, the
property owners may be fined as much as $100 per day per violation.
Fines build up very quickly, Mr. Bales said.
Mr. Hodge said Mr. Arlinghaus' violations included peeling paint, deteriorating chimneys, rotting siding and screens missing from windows.
If a property owner fixes the violations, the fine may be suspended, Mr. Hodge said.
The fines go to the city's general fund and are used to pay the board's operating costs.