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Published: Monday, 1/5/2009

Bowling Green Council will look at plan to inspect all rental units

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

BOWLING GREEN - A controversial proposal to have the city inspect and license rental properties will be back before City Council tonight.

Council agreed last month to delete the recommendation from an updated housing plan for Bowling Green but said it would consider the matter separately. The controversial "Section O" will have its first reading when council meets at 8 p.m.

Landlords and the city's largest pool of renters - Bowling Green State University students - spoke against the proposal when the housing plan was before the city Planning Commission.

The plan, which includes a long list of recommendations for improving housing in Bowling Green, ultimately was sent to City Council with a negative recommendation.

Bob Maurer, who owns considerable rental property in Bowling Green, said landlords in town generally agree an inspection program is unnecessary and think the cost could be astronomical.

"We do have inspections now of exteriors. The Wood County Health Department has been doing that for years," Mr. Maurer said.

While Section O says inspections would be for "all rental units in Bowling Green" and would "cover both the interior and exterior of buildings, as well as the surrounding property of each unit," Mr. Maurer said no one knows what the language actually means.

"I anticipate that would include electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and there's no way you could do that in every unit in an hour every year.

What if there are complications and [the inspector] has to come back?" he said. "We just don't think it's needed, and it's a whale of an expense."

Lori Tretter, assistant municipal administrator, said the city administration does not support the proposed inspection program because of the cost, which has not yet been determined. Because more than half of all housing units in Bowling Green are rentals, city officials know the cost would be high.

"With the current financial situation, we don't want to take on anything new," Ms. Tretter said. "The feasibility of it would be very difficult at this time. We're looking at our core services and continuing to deliver things as they are, and it doesn't seem too prudent to add an additional cost burden onto the city."

The stated intent of the licensing and inspection program, according to the resolution before City Council tonight, would be "to provide for the health, safety, and welfare of renters as well as the general public"; to help "assure the preservation of existing housing stock"; to help maintain neighbors' property values; to work toward eliminating sub-standard rental properties, and to "maintain a living environment that contributes to healthful individual and family living for all residents of Bowling Green."

City Attorney Mike Marsh said that even if council were to adopt the recommendation to inspect and license rentals, it still will only be a recommendation.

"This doesn't create one. It just says one is recommended," Mr. Marsh said. "It may never happen even if council adopts it."

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:

jfeehan@theblade.com

or 419-724-6129.



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