Residents address property legislation

Council, mayor urged to refine proposed maintenance code

March 13, 2001|By Maria Blackburn | Maria Blackburn,SUN STAFF

Although many residents and property owners support Westminster's proposed property maintenance code, several of them suggested last night that the Common Council and mayor further refine the ordinance.

More than two dozen people attended last night's Common Council meeting to address the proposed ordinance.

The council will vote March 26. About 10 people spoke at the meeting, most supporting the proposal.

The proposed code covers minimum requirements and standards for fire safety, light, sanitation, space, heating and other issues in "current and future" rental properties. City officials have been working on the proposal since November.

Wendy Myerberg, a vice president of City Wide Management Co., which owns several hundred apartment units in Westminster, said although she "applauds" the city's efforts to enact a livability code, the ordinance as proposed might "unnecessarily harm tenants."

Myerberg decried the lack of notice for inspection and asked the city to add a grandfather clause to exempt older properties.

Members of the West Side Community Organization, a neighborhood group that has pushed hard for the proposed code, said the proposed ordinance is necessary to improve the city's aesthetics and residents' safety.

"To protect life, limb and property values, we're here in support of this," said Joseph Fleck, a Ridge Road resident.

Introduced in November after two years of planning, the proposed ordinance was initially criticized by dozens of city residents, landlords and real estate agents as too restrictive. Among amendments made to the code was the creation of a three-member board of housing appeals composed of residents to hear appeals of citations.

Matthew Rubin, speaking on behalf of the Carroll County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, implored the council to increase the number of members on the appeals board to five people and broaden the criteria for selection.

"We urge that people of all walks of life be considered," said Rubin, who lives in Mount Airy.

Since 1989, Westminster and the rest of Carroll County have operated under the county's livability code, which applies to rental properties. If passed, property maintenance ordinance in Westminster would be the first of its kind enacted by a municipality in Carroll.

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