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Council votes against rental program exemptions

October 16, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday voted 3-2 against exempting nonprofit agencies from the proposed rental registration license program.

Under the program, property owners would be assessed an annual fee of $45 per rental unit to pay for more frequent inspections of properties.

Hagerstown City Councilman Lewis Metzner said at Tuesday's meeting he thought the program should exempt nonprofit groups that provide rental housing such as the Women's Club, the Community Action Council and CASA.

The rental program is intended for inspection of private rental properties, Metzner said.

Councilman N. Linn Hendershot said he supported the exemption.

Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire and Penny May Nigh opposed the exemptions. Aleshire said the city needs to be consistent and have the program include all rental properties.

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Told she was going to be the deciding vote, Councilwoman Carol Moller said, "Oh, dear." Moller decided against the exemptions.

The council is scheduled to vote at its Oct. 22 meeting on the ordinance creating the program.

The council voted 4-1 on Sept. 24 to introduce the ordinance creating the program. Metzner voted against introducing the ordinance.

Under the ordinance, properties would be inspected after a license application was submitted and every 24 months afterward. The properties would be inspected every 36 months or when there is a change in occupancy, whichever occurs first.

Metzner said he would support a revised version of the ordinance that requires the notification of tenants before an inspection.

Under the original proposal, all city rental units would be inspected annually. Currently, rental properties are inspected only in response to complaints, city officials have said.

The city estimates there are 9,214 rental units in Hagerstown.

City officials said money generated by the rental licensing fee would pay the salaries for six new inspectors and an administrative assistant. The city has four inspectors.

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