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City rental ordinance revisions to be revised
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The Platteville Common Council will be taking another look at its rental ordinance in June.

The council’s verdict on proposed changes to how the city regulates its more than 2,000 rental units, presented at its May 22 meeting, appeared to be mixed.

The council previously directed city staff to replace the city’s Rental Review Board and the points system for infractions against tenants and landlords.

“It was cumbersome the day it was written; most people agreed with that,” said Joe Carroll, the city’s community planning and development director. “It was never really implemented.”

City Manager Larry Bierke said the revisions that have been done to this point represent a “significant amount of work.”

The revisions — specifically the words “and/or the tenant” in several sections — resulted in a significant amount of discussion among the council.

“Is the owner supposed to be babysitting the tenant?” asked at-large Ald. Dick Bonin.

“I think the whole idea is to get the landlord to shape up, to take care of the property,” said at-large Ald. Steve Becker.

“To say that only the landlord is responsible for the actions of the tenant I think is unrealistic,” said 2nd District Ald. Eileen Nickels. “Even the university has the ability to talk to the tenant, if they’re a student. … The owner has only certain legal things he can do.”

“It says the city may impose sanctions; it doesn’t say it will,” said Common Council President Mike Dalecki.

The points system was supposed to sanction tenants for behavior that resulted in ordinance violations, and landlords for violations of city codes that could lead to suspension or revocation of their rental licenses. No city staff was assigned to keep track of violations against tenants or landlords.

“It’s still the case now that if a tenant has a wild party, they’ll get an ordinance violation,” said Carroll. The city’s Zoning Board of Appeals now handles enforcement actions against landlords.

A speaker at the meeting criticized the proposed revisions as “all politically motivated changes” without sufficient public notice.

“I feel that you changing this without any input from the people it would affect is an insult to the homeowners of this town,” said Michael Mayo of 375 S. Chestnut St. “The landlord does not have a lot of knowledge of these actions until after the fact.

“What does a landlord have to do — sit in front of his house day after day to babysit these children? This is what you, the city council, wants, not what the public wants.”

The Common Council will have the rental ordinance back on its agenda for discussion June 12, with a possible vote June 26.

The council also will consider June 12 what to do about deteriorating Stonebridge Road, on the city’s west side.

Director of Public Works Howard Crofoot gave the council three options, ranging in $48,000 of repairs estimated to last three years, to $80,000 in excavation and resurfacing estimated to last 10 years.

“The concerns are that [none] of those options address water and sewer issues” or stormwater, said Crofoot. He said the city could do temporary repairs, which would take place “every month or so,” this year so that a more extensive project could be put on the city’s capital budget.