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Ohio becomes 1st state to ban plywood on vacancy

Pedestrians passing the boarded up buildings in downtown Cincinnati, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017.

(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

COLUMBUS, Ohio – boarded-up property is no longer synonymous with blight in Ohio.

The state became the first in the nation this week to ban the use of plywood on the abandoned and vacant buildings.

The ban was tucked in one of the 28 bills signed Wednesday by Republican Gov. John Kasich. It takes effect in 90 days.

It is a blessing for a practice known as clear boarding, which is catching on around the country.

Fannie Mae, the federal government sponsored mortgage association, with the help of the clear polycarbonate windows and doors for a number of years, in November, declared plywood unacceptable for the securing of vacant property. A zoning commission in Chicago, debated the issue this spring.

Robert Klein, founder of Cleveland-based clear sign maker SecureView, said the Ohio law makes a statement against urban decay.

“This is a significant advancement for those involved in the fight against neighborhood blight in Ohio,” Small said. “Plywood is an outdated solution for a growing contemporary issue.”

Plywood is an industry standard for the securing of the vacant homes for the many decades that the act of doing so is called “boarding up” of the house. It is widely available, easy to use and cheap.

However, the proponents of the use of a different material, say plywood is susceptible to break-ins and vandalism, hampers the visibility for first responders and sends a visual signal that decreases surrounding property values.

Marilyn Thompson, APA-parquet Association, said the trade organization, the North American plywood makers views on the debate in the first place aesthetic.

“Plywood has a very good structural properties, so that we would not see any significant difference in terms of safety,” she said. “In terms of aesthetics, as owners of a building want to have the ability to use it, then that’s fine. But for a ban on the use of plywood and that it is obligatory to ensure the use of clear boarding really removes options for owners, and constitute an additional load for them by the removal of lower cost options.”

Thompson said a 4-foot to 8 foot 15/32-inch sheet of plywood will cost between € 17 and € 20, while a similar-sized sheet of clear polycarbonate will cost about $115.

In Ohio, the multiplex ban comes close on the heels of another new law accelerated foreclosures on vacant and abandoned properties, sometimes known as zombie properties, as they languish as the living dead. It provides a fast-track system-trim of Ohio in the foreclosure process for two years or more to as little as six months.

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