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To weigh impact, Syracuse commissions environmental study of proposed lead law

Wayne Marshall
via Flickr

The city of Syracuse has started a public comment period on an environmental impact study regarding a proposed law that would make the presence of lead a code violation in rental housing. One of the intended goals of the more than 200-page report is to try to cover the city from any lawsuits. 

The study measures the economic, environmental and social impacts of the law. Syracuse Common Councilor Joe Driscoll used Toledo, Ohio as an example of a city that passed a lead ordinance without doing a study, and was then sued by groups of landlords who said the city had not done its due diligence.

“We commissioned a study to make sure that we are thinking of all the different angles that could be possible," Driscoll said. "This will have effects on the housing market. It will have a positive effect on the environment.”

Driscoll said it could also cause some landlords to leave the market.

“It’s our belief that it’s the people that we want to leave, that aren’t a good presence in the housing market,” Driscoll said.

A public input meeting will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 12, before the law is voted on in April.

The vast majority of the housing stock in Syracuse was built before 1978, and has lead-based paint, which can chip and create dust. Driscoll said the idea is not to necessarily eliminate the lead, but to make properties lead safe with fresh coats of paint, new windows and doors. More than 10% of children under the age of six have elevated blood lead levels in the city of Syracuse, which can cause brain damage and delay growth.  

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.