South Cumminsville – CUFA members met this past Tuesday with Denise Driehaus, Hamilton County’s newest Commissioner, to talk about the issues they care about.

Housing 

Members of the Vacant Property Action Team raised concerns about how problems with vacant properties are being handled county-wide currently and voiced support for a fair full-time housing court that connects low-income homeowners to programs that can help them with maintenance, and that would target problem property owners like slumlords. Driehaus committed to supporting the court and approving funding for it from the county.

Metropolitan Sewer District

Members of CUFA’s People and Planet Action Team brought up all the various issues with the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD)  – high rates, basement backups, a lack of accountability at MSD, and slow progress on resolving the combined sewer overflows. Robert Miles shared a picture from a neighbor that documented her sewage backup in 1985! Members asked for solutions like implementing green infrastructure to reduce the burden of storm water on and billing all properties that use the sewer system.

In response, Driehaus said she strongly supported green infrastructure solutions to the problem of combined sewer overflows, saying, “green solutions are often cheaper.” She said she wants to change how rates are structured to lower them for people who use less. Of the lack of accountability for sewer backups at MSD, she admits, “yes, we need better customer service.” She said that businesses owning property not currently metered but burdening the sewer systems can’t be hit suddenly with huge bills, but that MSD could give advance notice that metering and billing would be coming.

Duke’s proposed pipeline

Melissa Lewis, a resident of the Hazelwood neighborhood of Blue Ash raised concerns about the pipeline being proposed by Duke Energy. She’s not only concerned about the risk to her neighborhood, would rather her ratepayer money go to investment in clean energy and efficiency than to a natural gas pipeline. Driehaus says that county has intervened in the case at the Ohio Power Siting Board and opposes the pipeline.