Clintonville focuses on downtown buildings
By Bert Lehman
The city of Clintonville is reworking a proposed ordinance that would require businesses to have property insurance on the buildings they own.
Discussions about such an ordinance began after two business buildings in downtown Clintonville caught fire in late 2016 and it was discovered the owners of the buildings did not have insurance on the buildings.
One of those buildings had to be razed by the city at a cost of more than $40,000.
The first reading of a proposed ordinance that would require businesses to have a business occupancy license was passed by the Clintonville City Council a couple of months ago.
The council never heard the second reading of the proposed ordinance, so it never became an official ordinance.
The topic was once again discussed at the Aug. 28 Clintonville Safety & Ordinance Committee meeting.
“One of the things that we are trying to do is make that whatever ordinance we’re putting together is really getting at the heart of what we’re trying to accomplish,” Eveland told the committee. “The more that Keith [Steckbauer, Clintonville city attorney] and I look at this, the more that we are not sure that the ordinance as it was originally proposed is going to do that.”
Eveland said one of the concerns is the city would be introducing the ordinance on too large of a scale.
“The concern is we’re going to implement this and we’re not going to be able to manage it,” Eveland said.
Eveland proposed implementing a business occupancy license ordinance on a smaller scale including the areas of the city where issues have arisen, which is primarily the downtown business district. Other areas of the city would be added in phases.
“That’s the primary concern, that the city is forking out taxpayer dollars to tear down buildings because property owners are not maintaining insurance,” Eveland said. “And it’s also a liability issue in our densely populated areas, which is our downtown business district. One building goes up, it runs the risk of affecting buildings next to it.”
The original proposed ordinance that was written did not address those factors, Eveland said.
She added that the escalation of penalties would also be changed from how they appeared in the original proposed ordinance.
Eveland said that the purpose of the ordinance is to get business property owners to comply with having property insurance on their buildings. She stressed that the ordinance is not meant to generate revenue for the city.
“This is a compliance. This is a let’s protect the city, let’s protect taxpayers kind of deal,” Eveland said.
She added that discussions have taken place on the idea of designating a portion of the business fee to be placed in a fund to help pay for future instances when the city has to pay to have a business building removed.
“It’s never going to be enough to take care of [the cost], but it’s a starting point,” Eveland said.
Early discussions have focused on the fee for businesses to be small.
Fire inspection would also be built into the new ordinance.
The committee will discuss the topic again at its October meeting.