Inspection program moving forward

LISBON — Village Council finally decided to move forward with some sort of rental property inspection program.

Council this week passed on first reading legislation giving the fire department the authority to inspect rental properties for possible safety violations, but only after a complaint is filed by the landlord or tenant. Even then, the fire department would have to obtain a court order if the landlord refused to let them in the premise.

The legislation, which must be passed two more times before it takes affect, also incorporates the state law that outlines landlord/tenant rights into the village code.

Councilman Peter Wilson originally proposed a much stronger law that would create a mandatory landlord registration/inspection program that came with an annual fee. Council was not much interested in doing that, so Councilman Ryan Berg came up with a watered down version that met with the approval of his colleagues.

Berg described his legislation as “very, very bare bones.” He said council may one day decide to go with a mandatory registration/inspection, “but at this point we’re not in a position to do that.”

Fire Chief Paul Gresh Jr. was in attendance and Wilson, who joined his fellow council members in voting for the legislation, asked what he thought.

“It’s a start. You got to try it and see how it works … I think it’s a move in the right direction,” Gresh said.

In other meeting action, Berg reported they still need volunteers to serve on a seven-member Community Reinvestment Area committee so the CRA can be activated to begin granting tax breaks on property taxes generated by new residential and commercial construction. He said only two people have expressed interest in serving on the committee, which is required to meet once a year to review the properties that received the tax exemptions and also hears appeals.

“This is really important,” said Mayor Roger Gallo.

Wilson agreed. “We need it so people can start taking advantage of the tax benefits,” he said.

“We may have to drag them off the street,” Berg joked.

Council gave the Eagles organization permission to use the southeast portion of the town square in late August for a Safety Day celebration, a free family event that will feature food and games in honor of local first responders.

Eagles frequently makes donations to community and village causes. “It goes without saying we appreciate all your support,” Gallo said.

Council also agreed to create three more handicapped parking spaces on East Chestnut Street to serve the Church of Christ. A representative attended the meeting to say there are already three handicapped parking spots but they have six church-goers who are handicapped.