After discussing the issue for six months, the St. Clair Planning and Zoning Board appears ready to gain additional input by conducting a public hearing on proposed changes to the city’s occupancy permit program.
The city planners went through proposed revisions to the program one more time during their May meeting and felt comfortable enough to agree a public hearing should be the next step.
That public hearing should take place before the June 11 meeting in city hall.
After the public hearing, the planners officially could approve recommending the updates and changes to the board of aldermen, which has final say.
“This is all stuff we’ve already talked about,” board President Myrna Turner said on May 14. “We need to go through it again to see if we have any more questions with any of this stuff.”
Planners went through the documents and tweaked a few more things relating to how to handle vermin and rodent infestations, stairway safety, pathway widths in relation to escape routes and smoke and carbon monoxide detector use.
Current minimum housing standards for St. Clair residents are included in Chapter 12-1/2, Article II of the city’s code or ordinances. Any changes in those standards in updating the occupancy permit program would have to come through amending the ordinance.
The program also will include a listing of minimum housing and life safety standards that landlords and tenants would be required to follow.
The main idea behind revising the program is making sure residences are safe for each and every occupant who lives in them and providing a way for the city to enforce that safety. The changes mainly target rental properties.
The planners also looked at Section 6-61 of the city’s code of ordinances which concerns the definition of a dangerous building.
Minimum housing standards address sanitary facilities and conditions, food preparation facilities, living space requirements, heating and cooling, lead-based paint regulations and structural condition. The planners recommended this month that the section on site and neighborhood be deleted.
Minimum life safety standards deal with structural, electrical, fire, carbon monoxide and general safety issues.
When the updated occupancy permit standards become law, city Building Inspector Jeremy Crowe will use a checklist based on the standards to determine if a residence is in compliance. The home will be inspected each time before a new tenant moves into it.
“Most of our visits now are complaint driven,” Crowe said. “With the updates to the occupancy permit program, we would inspect before the next occupant.”