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EP sets penalties for vacant structures

EAST PALESTINE — Discussion surrounding the proposed new section of the zoning code revolving around vacant structures has been put to rest after village council unanimously voted to implement the changes at Monday’s meeting.

After several months of debating the intricacies of the ordinance brought forth by Councilman Alan Cohen, council not only approved it, but Village Manager Mark McTrustry also hired C.H. McCutcheon as the building and zoning inspector after a series of interviews were completed last week.

“I’m really happy to offer C.H. the position,” McTrustry said. “He has a number of building and inspection certificates that will do well for us.”

McCutcheon is the owner at On Sight Property Inspection, LLC and earned associate’s and bachelor’s degrees at Penn State University. He also attended the HomeSpection Training Institute and is trained to inspect residential and commercial properties for both buyers and sellers.

Council filled in the blanks on the registration fees for vacant residential and commercial structures. The owner of any vacant residential or commercial structure must pay an annual registration fee of $25. The owner of any structure that remains vacant and without an approved exemption from the building and zoning inspector for longer than one year will have to pay an additional fee. The additional fee for a residential structure will be equal to 5 percent of the true assessed appraised market value of the property, established by the county auditor, for each consecutive year that the structure remains vacant. It will be 10 percent for any commercial structure.

Cohen expressed his relief that the ordinance was passed and stressed the importance of council to make the hard decisions for the village.

“We can’t count on anyone else to come in here and create change,” Cohen said. “If it’s going to change, it’s going to change from within. We are the only group of leaders in the community with the ability to make these changes, and at some point we have to draw the line. This is where we start taking our town back.”

Councilman Mark Walker added that the delinquent taxes that are being paid on the vacant structures could potentially go a long way in the school system.

“If we can get those current buildings occupied and get those current taxes paid, it would certainly improve what we can provide at the schools for our students,” Walker said.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting is set for 7 p.m. March 9.

slendak@mojonews.com

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