Council passes rental registration ordinance

By Dean Vaglia
Leader Staff Writer
The Oxford Village Council met for its monthly meeting on Tuesday, April 12. Topics discussed included rental registrations and inspections, the village budget and water treatment. All votes were unanimous.

Rental registration second reading
The council passed a rental registration ordinance, which aims to help first responders know where people are living in the village and which buildings are rentals. References to “local agents” were removed from the ordinance, and language added states signing the registration form means rentals have a smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector and a posted address.
A letter from Oxford Fire Department Chief Pete Scholz expressed support for a registration that focused on identifying where rental units are and ensured life safety through smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and posted addresses for each apartment. The fire department will provide Oxford residences with up to six free smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors this spring as part of the “Safety Begins at Home” program.

Rental inspection ordinance discussion
The council discussed a rental inspection ordinance based on a draft inspection criterion provided by McKenna Associates. While council members expressed support for inspections, there was concern over what should be included in the ordinance and the logistics of inspections. Life and safety concerns were made the top priority with the council stating it does not want to grade on things like chipped paint.

Lori Bourgeau

“I do not want to see an inspector come out and get their measuring tape out and say ‘Oh this gas valve is 2 feet and 1 inches, you are in big trouble,’” Councilmember Lori Bourgeau said. “You are going to come out there and say ‘Your exchanger is cracked, that is going to start leaking at any time’ That is what I see as a concern … Is your life in danger tomorrow if this is not corrected?”
In response to comments from landlords made at prior meetings claiming rental residences should be regulated like private homes, Councilmember Maureen Helmuth spoke on the commercial nature of apartments and rental homes.
“Rental homes are a business,” Helmuth said. “No one gets into rental properties to offer a cheap, nice place for a kid to live. You do it to make money. I am not saying you get billions, but you do it to make money.”
No vote was held on the inspection ordinance, and the council requested representatives from McKenna to be at the May meeting to answer the council’s questions.
Several landlords in attendance spoke against the rental registration and possible inspection ordinances during public comment periods.

Budget update
Village Manger Joe Madore presented an updated 2022-2023 budget to the council. Estimated marijuana revenues for at least three active dispensaries by October were added to the budget, along with updated information regarding benefits for an additional police officer and DPW worker. The council will hold a budget workshop on April 20 and vote on the budget at the May regular meeting.

Rowe Professional Services agreement
The council approved the terms of Rowe Professional Services Company’s contract for engineering the Hudson and Dennison water main replacement and repaving and the Park St. repaving.

Other Items
The council renewed its contract with Highland Treatment, Inc. to operate and maintain the village’s water system.
The council agreed to continue the village’s agreement with Oxford Township to collect summer taxes on behalf of the village.
The council scheduled a public hearing for delinquent utility tax billing violations for the May regular meeting.

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