BELLVILLE — An event last night at the Bellville Police Department building left many people thinking village happenings needed to be held somewhere else — or at least someplace with lots more parking.
Residents turned out in force for a public hearing on proposed changes to ordinances governing requirements for landlords.
The parking lot overflowed and the meeting room inside was filled with people who said they thought efforts to lay more requirements on landlords were unneeded and redundant.
Lonnie McGhee said he had lived here for 38 years, and said he didn’t want to be “insulted.”
He said “typically” council members “spend five minutes before a meeting” to prepare.
He said he didn’t think a lot of research had gone in to proposals that say inspections should be required under certain conditions.
The proposal says a new inspection and permit shall be required if it has been more than eight years since a permit has been issued, after the electrical, water and gas systems have been inspected. Also, fire detection and alarm systems must be judged to be in compliance.
The proposal says landlords with existing leases as of July 1 of this year will be granted permits at no cost and without inspection, but that if it has been three years, then inspection would be required again.
A new inspection and permit also would be required if a new lessee is to occupy the premises.
Several speakers said requiring inspections would put more costs on a landlord. One person said inspections can cost $350.
Skip Bowman, who said he has lived here 42 years, said he believes “every renter is an inspector.” He said they “squeak like a door” if they think something is wrong.
Bill Smith said he found some language confusing. There is a clause which says a variance may be granted if a landlord finds suggested repairs would be too expensive. He expressed wonder about the purpose for such a clause.
Brock McGhee said he wanted to know the “overall end game.”
He said “50 of my closest friends here” don’t see the reason for the proposed legislation.
One landlord, Don Perman, said he knows landlords are left with water bills by some tenants. And the landlord has to pay that money to the village. A landlord can “get stuck with a $150 water bill.”
The community development committee of council had been working on the proposed ordinance changes.
Council member Vic Swisher said Tuesday night’s meeting would give the ordinance its first reading.
At one point during the hearing, Swisher said “maybe the wording is a little too much.”
Later he said “let’s say it’s too strict.”
Swisher said he had been told about people who would look at a property, say they could get it for $10,000, then make a few repairs and start to get $500 to $600 a month in rent.
Several of the evening’s speakers said they had looked at the property Swisher mentioned, and none expressed any interest in it.
Council member Jason Potes, chair of the community development committee, said the proposed ordinance could go back to committee. He asked if anyone in the room would like to attend meetings where the issue would be discussed. Several people volunteered.
If the ordinance is to proceed, it would have to get two more readings.
Lonnie McGhee said there was a “meeting after the meeting” for landlords who exited the building. He said he feels the people there were the “old guard” in the area and that they probably “rattled a lot of chains.”
Lonnie McGhee said he thinks the idea is to “get rentals out of Bellville.”
He said the people on council are “young, new, transplants” and they “don’t relate to the town yet.”
Some people might have a “pet peeve” about a neighbor, but people need to know the solution is not that “a blanket one size fits all.”