Ohio’s ban on plywood for vacant houses takes effect

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CLEVELAND— It’s officially illegal in Ohio to use plywood to board up properties certified as vacant and abandoned.

Ohio is the first state with such a ban to fight blight. The law that took effect this week is a boon for a practice known as clear boarding, using see-through polycarbonate windows and doors to secure vacant properties. Fannie Mae, the federal government-sponsored mortgage association, has used clear-boarding for several years.

Supporters of the change contend that though plywood is cheaper and easy to use, it sends a visual signal that lowers surrounding property values. They also say it’s not just aesthetics, arguing that plywood is susceptible to vandalism and blocks visibility for emergency responders.

The trade organization representing North American plywood makers says the change increases costs for the properties’ owners.

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