COLUMBUSSenator Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) received unanimous support today for legislation that aims to make it easier for citizens to clean up blighted properties in their neighborhoods.  Senate Bill 16 updates Ohio’s criminal trespassing laws to excludepersons who enter abandoned or blighted property for the purpose of remediation.

“Community associations and action groups are taking an increased role in the clean-up and remediation of properties that pose safety threats and are eyesores in our communities,” Sen. Schiavoni said.  “Whether it is cleaning up trash on vacant lots, mowing overgrown lawns, or boarding up broken windows, changes made by this bill will allow our neighborhood groups to continue their revitalization without fear of criminal prosecution.”

SB 16 is an updated version of legislation previously proposed by Senator Schiavoni last year.  Changes were made to reflect concerns brought forth by various interested parties and include:

  • Clarifying the definition of “abandoned land” to prevent and ensure that only those properties that are truly abandoned may be remediated
  • Specifies that remediation may only occur during daylight hours, in an effort to prevent squatters from obtaining immunity by stating they were remediating
  • Exempts abandoned manufactured homes, mobile homes, and trailers from being eligible for remediation
  • Allows and provides a mechanism for, but does not require, individuals to seek pre-clearance from a court for an order permitting remediation
  • Clarifies that the bill has no impact on municipalities’ rights to remediate hazardous buildings or abate a nuisance, or any impact on the various municipal ordinances that allow cities to clean up vacant properties.
  • Allows for compliance for codes that require boards used to secure doors or windows be painted a certain color and for “artisanal boarding”
  • Allows an exception to the general prohibition on entering any structure be made to enter property to board up windows or doors.

“I’m confident that the changes made will allow for continued improvements in our communities, while simultaneously protecting the rights of municipalities and landowners,” said Senator Schiavoni. 

The bill now heads to the Ohio House of Representatives for further hearings.

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