Properties in Bexley in which three or more people who are not family live must have a boardinghouse license from the city and pay an annual $125 fee, according to legislation Bexley City Council passed on April 14.

Council members voted 7-0 to approve Ordinance 09-20, which states, "Certain single-family units have become de facto boardinghouse uses within the city, in which unrelated individuals not constituting a family unit routinely share lodging and accommodations. ... The operation of single-family units as boarding houses presents unique life safety, parking and other challenges that can be addressed by providing for restrictions on and licensure of boarding house uses."

The new ordinance is the result of years of discussions city officials have had on ways to regulate properties that house multiple people who are not family.

"This is a phenomenon that we see at times, specifically the area around Capital University, where you have perhaps up to five unrelated students living in one house that is zoned as a single-family housing unit and used more in accordance with how a boardinghouse might be used," Mayor Ben Kessler said. "Down the road in the future, the only place where a licensed boardinghouse could be newly established would be within the camping planning district, which is the district directly adjacent to Capital."

The ordinance originally had been scheduled for a vote at council's March 10 meeting, but the city's zoning attorney, Catherine Cunningham, recommended several changes and clarifications.

She said one of the changes she had recommended was to clarify that the purpose of the legislation, as the ordinance states, is to promote "the best interests of public health and safety and in order to restore and preserve the rights of residents to quiet enjoyment."

"We talked about challenges and the impacts on residential neighborhoods and the city," Cunningham said at council's March 10 meeting. "It is also one of the bases in which a lot of the court cases have examined boardinghouses and why it's not exactly the same as a single-family use. If you live next to one where people are coming or going or there are a lot of young people living together who aren't families and you're raising a family, sometimes the impacts are different."

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