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Committee looks to beef up efforts for revitalization

EAST LIVERPOOL — Council’s Licensing and Economic Development committee met this week to discuss some changes that could improve their success rate for revitalization.

Committee chairman John Mercer oversaw the meeting along with council members Scott Barrett and Craig Stowers.

Mercer hopes by amending the city’s vacant buildings’ ordinance it will encourage people to do something productive with their real estate. He distributed copies of the proposed changes that would change the annual fee from $400 to make it progressively higher each year a building is still vacant.

For example, the owner of a vacant commercial or industrial building would pay the $400 registration fee in year one with it doubling each year the vacancy continues for up to five years. In year five and all consecutive subsequent years of vacancy, the fee would be $6,400.

Registration would be required 60 days after it becomes vacant. Otherwise an additional late fee of $400 will be imposed.

Mercer proposes that buildings, which are undergoing active renovations not incur the fees for at least one year.

The city’s Vacant Building Maintenance Standards would remain in place; however, he advocates adding an ability for property owners to board up buildings “as a temporary measure” if the boards or covering blend in with the existing color scheme or are painted matte black.

He also advocates that the vacant storefronts and buildings be maintained with “non-offensive, visually appealing display(s)” that are subject to city approval. Non-permanent displays must be rotated at least every 90 days.

Mercer said that he would like to see the city investigate becoming a member of Main Street Ohio, which is said could generate grant opportunities that currently East Liverpool is not eligible, and investigate expanding their current Tax Increment Financing (TIF), which would allow municipalities to allow one-time opportunity on large development projects to exempt taxes for 30 years instead of the traditional 15 years.

Possible plans for May, which is Historic Preservation Month, were discussed as well as starting several task forces, including one to investigate the possibility of establishing residences above storefronts in downtown. Interested parties are asked to email Mercer at jmercer@eastliverpool.com.

The next meeting was set for 5 p.m. March 10 in the council chambers of city hall.

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