Citizens For A Better Norwood

Friday, March 05, 2010

Part I: Mayor Williams answers readers’ questions

As promised, Mayor Williams sat down with us several weeks ago to answer the questions our readers posed when we solicited questions for the interview. We very much appreciate the two hours Mayor Williams spent on this project, which he jokingly described as an “open book” test since we made sure he was aware of questions in advance. We think he would prefer something more along the lines a “pop quiz,” so if we do this again, maybe we’ll ask our readers to email their questions to us. Thank you, Mayor Williams, for answering our readers’ questions.

Why does he allow the landlords of houses rented mainly to XU students, and others, to not have to maintain the property? What is the status of managing landlords in general to maintain property?

A. There is absolutely no special treatment for any landlords. We don’t allow any landlord to not maintain rental property per our building code, which readers can access online. One thing I don’t ever want to have to do is look in a camera and explain the loss of life in a fire that resulted from codes not being enforced.

There are always problem property owners who are not going to comply with orders issued by the City, including some who are motivated by a desire to affect their bottom lines. I encourage residents to call the Building Department at 458-4510 to report complaints about properties so they can be followed up. Penalties for violations range from fines to jail, to ultimately demolition. Currently, we have about 4 properties that are candidates for demolition.

Q. What are the plans for Medpace and The Playing Card Building?

A. Belvedere manages the Medpace property, and I don’t know what their plans are. Regarding USPC, until the business climate picks up and banks start making loans again, there is not going to be a lot of interest. There has been one low-ball offer only so far.

Q. What are the mayor’s plans to bring business back into Norwood?

A. After Rick Dettmer retired as Community Development Director, we brought Greg Orosz in on a contractual basis. One of his ideas is to do city planning in sections. A CD may be put together to send out, but first we will go to the Community Development Committee with proposed plans and then ultimately to City Council. The proposal will not be a Master Plan for the City.

Q. What is the status of hiring a new Community Development Director?

A. We are going to delay filling the position until the process I just described is complete.

Q. When is Linden Pointe going to go ahead with the rest of the development? What is there is nice, but not near what we were promised. I'm looking forward to a nice hotel, some good restaurants, etc.

A. Linden Pointe will move along again when the economy improves and money is available.

Q. How soon is Surrey Square going to be finished?

A. Surrey Square doesn’t have a completion date, but they are going at it strongly.

Q. Is there an ordinance that limits the number of people/families that can live in one house? If so, what is the limit and what can we do if we know of a house that is over the limit?

A. The limit is 4 per rental housing unit, but identifying the exact number of tenants is difficult because that can change from day to day. Last year, a program with the Norwood police and the Building Department was started. A beat officer might report something, and a building inspector would follow up with an inspection. Now the program is being expanded by bringing in the Health Department and the Fire Department. The Building Commissioner is the coordinator. They will meet and evaluate the houses with the most complaints, the most police runs, etc. Citizen complaints can trigger an action, so again I encourage residents to call the Building Department at 458-4510 to report problems.

Part II will be published Monday.