MANSFIELD -- Members of Mansfield City Council will meet with officials from the Richland County Land Bank before proceeding with legislation that would tighten the city's demolition codes.
Council, while conducting a second reading on an amended ordinance, heard concerns from Land Bank manager Amy Hamrick.
"(Proposed changes) could deeply impact what could happen and will happen with Land Bank demolitions and other demolitions," Hamrick said during a 40-minute council zoning committee Tuesday evening.
The proposed legislation would:
-- keep fees for a demolition permit at $80 per day for up to 14 days (instead of four) for residential demolition and 60 days for all other demolitions, unless otherwise allowed by the city.
- would add an additional fee of $50 per day, from the current $10 per day, for a demolition permit that drags on beyond 14 days for a residential permit and 60 days for all other demolitions.
-- would require the contractor or resident-owner to "remove all lumber, rubble and other building structural materials and debris and all demolition equipment from the graded premises" before the demolition is considered complete. Previously, the owner could seek city permission to keep the material piled "neatly upon the premises."
-- It would also require the contractor or property owner to break and remove all foundations or slabs, grade the land and apply seed and straw to the site before the demolition is considered complete.
Hamrick said the Land Bank bids its straw-and-seed contracts with landscaping companies separately from the building demolition, which has resulted in a better finished product on the sites.
"(But) the turnaround time is not as quick," she said. "Demo contractors love to take buildings down. We know that and they are good at that. They are not as good at finishing (the seed/straw)," Hamrick said.
She said forcing demolition contractors to meet the 14-day period required by the proposed legislation could be an issue.
"We have doing it this way all this year and it's really improved our process," she said, adding the Land Bank has taken in 492 demolition projects since its inception in 2013, including 139 funded by the city's PRIDE tax.
"I am just hoping and praying the city will jump on board with the way the Land Bank is doing demolitions," she said.
Council members David Falquette (1st Ward) and Jean Taddie (6th Ward), who have pushed for the tightened demolition rules, both praised the work of the Land Bank.
They offered to meet with Hamrick to discuss potential changes to the ordinance before it is scheduled for a final council vote on Sept. 3.
"Rather than scratching these ideas, we need to make them livable (for all)," Taddie said.
Councilman Jon Van Harlingen (3rd Ward) said he was concerned the proposed change would negatively impact the Land Bank.
"These are old problems we need to clean up and take care of it for the future," he said. "My concern is we are trying to take a city ordinance and mix it with the Richland County Land Bank, which has proven to be extremely successful.
"When we give something to the Land Bank, we have a contract with you folks. (We should) give them the authority under those guidelines to do what they have been doing," Van Harlingen said.
Assistant Law Director Christopher Brown suggested council keep the proposed legislation.
"My recommendation to council is you have to have teeth in your ordinance to say this is what a complete job means. Because if you don't, you leave it up to the goodwill of the contractor to seed and straw. And who is going to enforce that contract? If you have to grant extensions, that's part of what (the city codes and permit department) has to do," Brown said.
In other action Tuesday, City Council:
-- approved the appropriation of $100,000 to replace playgrounds at Prospect Park and also at North Lake Park. Parks and Recreation Manager Mark Abrams will come back to council for approval once he has made decisions on which equipment to purchase.
-- voted to honor Mansfield firefighter Link Briggs Sr., who retired June 22 after more than 26 years with the department. Briggs received the department's Legion of Merit award in 1996 and 2007 and was also Firefighter of the Year in 2001 and 2018. Briggs is continuing to serve as the fire department chaplain.
-- approved demolition of dilapidated houses at 132 Willis Ave., 133 Sturges Ave., 153 N. Mulberry St., 171 W. Fourth St., 306 Miller St., 582 Dewey Ave. and 600 Dewey Ave.
-- approved moving a section of land for North Lake Park Drive into public right-of-way, needed to submit a grant request for reconstruction of the North Lake Park bridge.
-- voted to authorize the purchase of a house/property at 261 Elmwood Drive for $85,000. The property is needed for the Touby Run Flood Mitigation Hazard Project.