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Mayor expects landlord registration law by Jan. 1

Mayor Michael W. Tucker said Monday that he expects the city to adopt a landlord registration law shortly before or after Jan. 1.

He made the statement following a meeting between a group of citizens and city attorneys before Monday's Common Council session. The citizens sought stepped-up enforcement of housing codes.

"We feel the housing problem has been neglected for 15 years," said Michael Manning of High Street. "We need to get our priorities lined up, our personnel lined up."

The group sought information about how property owners who don't live in Lockport can be called to account for urban blight.

The new law, first proposed in August by Police Department Warrant Officer Paul Beakman, would require out-of-town property owners to inform the city of someone local to whom summonses could be sent -- a person who could be brought into court if necessary.

Manning said citizens need to know who is behind some of the corporate names listed as landlords in Lockport.

In addition, Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano said he intends to draw up a law limiting to one year the length of time a building may be boarded up before being repaired.

Manning, who was joined by Jean Kiene of Willow Street, Karen Carroll of Park Lane Circle and others, said he is concerned that the three new building inspectors the city intends to hire in 2008 won't have a quick impact. "I'm just worried it might be July before something happens," he said.

But Tucker said interviews will start next week, and the appointments will likely be on the agenda for the Council's last scheduled meeting of the year Dec. 19. More than 20 applications are in hand.

Ottaviano said he told the group that in 2000, the last time the city tried to pass a law regulating landlords, the property owners packed a public hearing and were able to prevent the measure's passage.

"They [the citizens group] said, 'Get the public hearing, get the legislation, and we'll be here to support it,' " Ottaviano said.

In other matters, the Council authorized Tucker to spend up to $5,000 to have the Wendel Duchscherer engineering firm apply on the city's behalf for a $125,000 state grant to pay for a feasibility study for the proposed Lockport Harbor boat-docking area on the Erie Canal.

The Council also claimed lead-agency status for the city on a planned rezoning effort on South Transit Street. Alderman Patrick W. Schrader, who represents the area, said constituents will have a chance for input "before it ever goes to our Planning Board or the Niagara County Planning Board. . . . We are nowhere near the final proposal."


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