BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – Many people in Boardman got very angry on social media last week after the township’s zoning department sent strongly-worded letters asking for several homes to be fixed up.
Daniel James said he has been making improvements to his house since he moved in five years ago. Then his porch caved in four months ago.
He said other things come first when you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck.
“This is three feet of concrete,” James said. “A little jackhammer. I’m doing this by myself.”
He lives on the northeast end of Boardman and is one of about 35 people who got a courtesy notice in the mail last week.
In it, the zoning department specifies fixes needed on homes. If they aren’t done, the people living there could face fines.
The township gave James until May 12 to fix his side porch.
“You can’t tell me in seven months I gotta have something up when I’ve done more work in five years than a lot of these houses have in 20 or 30,” he said.
“I encourage them to just contact us,” said Tricia D’Avignon, assistant director of zoning and development. “We don’t know everything that’s going on with every individual’s personal circumstance.”
She said the notices were sent out after many complaints about homes in that area.
D’Avignon said the objective is to help property values.
“It’s more so our legal obligation to make sure that people know what consequences could be in store.”
“That’s not what the letters are saying,” said Wendy McQuiston, who’s lived in Boardman her whole life. “The letters, to me, are intimidating and it’s almost like a threat.”
A close friend got the same notice last week. McQuiston said if she and her husband got this letter in the mail, they wouldn’t be able to fix it by that date either.
“We had an estimate on the driveway and it would cost $10,000 just to get this top part done. I can’t imagine somebody in the northern part of Boardman.”
James said, ultimately, he feels the township is being too strict.
“You have to be really looking up my driveway to see this. Why are you coming up my driveway to take pictures of my house?”
Again, the township said it will work with owners and renters who got these notices. They just need to contact the zoning department.
If they don’t try to work it out with zoning, those fines start at $250 a day up to $1,000 a day.