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Steubenville council approves latest conservation district

The newest conservation district in Steubenville was approved Tuesday night at city council, making the LaBelle neighborhood the 25th conservation district in the city.

The newest conservation district in Steubenville was approved Tuesday night at city council, making the LaBelle neighborhood the 25th conservation district in the city.

Despite last-minute vocal opposition it was a unanimous to approve its conservancy status.

City council saw packed chambers and philosophical pleas to reject the latest conservation district. However, after residents petitioned council since summer, the latest conservation district since they started in Steubenville in 2014 was approved.

"As the numbers of rentals increased, we have seen a gradual and continual decline in our neighborhood,” said Councilwoman-at-large Kimberly Hahn. “On the other hand, the conservation district, which includes 35 rentals, is a line in the sand. It's saying no new rentals."

The conservation status was afforded Bellview Boulevard, Hawthorne Court; Oregon, Maryland and Pennsylvania Streets, among nearly a dozen streets in the newly formed district. The whole aim is to prevent the prevalence of drugs, crime and bad landlords.

Hahn, who lives in LaBelle, said critics' claims of discrimination are unfounded.

"All fair housing laws still exist,” Hahn said. “You can't discriminate in how you sell your house or who you rent to. So I don't see that as being valid."

There are no new rental properties allowed in the LaBelle conservation district, but existing renters can sell it to another owner to keep it as a rental property. These changes go into effect April 6.

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