Council tables controversial ordinance to next April
The Brownsburg Town Council has tabled the controversial “Minimum Housing Standards” ordinance until April 2020 and will set up a committee to study and possibly make changes to the ordinance.
Residents have come forward in council meetings and on Facebook to complain about the rigid standards that were meant to help town officials aid renters in disputes with landlords. However, many complaints were centered around fines, initiation of investigations from complaints and no allowances for older structures.
Council member Travis Tschaenn motioned early in the Sept. 26 regular council meeting to table the second reading of Ordinance 2019-17, the proposed addition to the Unified Development Ordinance, to April 2020. His motion also included the establishment of a committee to study the ordinance by the Oct. 24.
“I’m worried about government overreach,” Tschaenn said. “If we’re going to do a minimum housing standard that we pare it down as much as we can to something that is absolutely necessary.”
Tschaenn mentioned the schedule of fines laid out in the ordinance which say that fines may start immediately. He also is uncomfortable with the standards allowing for officials to get a warrant to enter the home.
Tschaenn said he chose April because two new members are joining the council in January.
“So we’ll have them get enough time to get up to speed on … this item which is itself a very large ordinance,” Tschaenn said.
Tschaenn added that he is compelled to see a need for this type of ordinance to help renters fight landlords, but it might be specifically geared to landlords. The committee he envisions includes two members of the council, representatives from the town’s Development Services – the originators of the ordinance, and a few members of the community.
About a dozen residents attended the council meeting to speak on the ordinance. Even after it was tabled, a few residents spoke up during the citizen’s comments section of the meeting.
The standards have changed titles from Minimum Housing Standards to Property Maintenance Standards.