The Weekly Informer (3/26/16)

On Monday, March 21st, 2016, at 7pm, the following transpired:

All members were present. There was also a decent attendance (mostly for the public hearing).

On the reappointment of William Mann and Jeff Anderson to the Community Reinvestment Area Housing Council - per the recommendation of our City Development Director Mark Mauter - Council approved such by acclamation (in other words, not speaking in opposition).

Council received and filed into the record – among other things – 8 emails from citizens in opposition to the repeal of BSL.

Then there was a public hearing on Ordinance No. 16-01, which was an ordinance to change the zoning classification of 173 and 175 Elmwood Avenue from a "Single Family Residence RH-High Density District" to an "MFR Multi-Family Residence District". President Ellington informed the audience that the Planning Commission as well as Service Director Rhodes rejected this proposal, which means that it required the approval of seven council members to ensure its passage.

Natalie Cost, the owner of the property in question highlighted that she’d like the zoning change so as to be permitted to house two additional people in her duplex to help “deal with the homeless issue.” She provided some background information as to the charitable work that she and the organization with which she’s affiliated have done to help people who are down on their luck for whatever reason; including recovering addicts and former prisoners trying to transition back into normal life. A resident of one of Cost’s boarding houses then spoke up, explained that he had been homeless for a brief period after having gotten out of jail and was on the verge of suicide before Mrs. Cost’s work saved his life by offering him a chance. A number of others chimed in on behalf of the proposal, with one individual suggesting that the improvements made to properties owned by the Costs had helped increase housing values.

Council then sought input from the Service Director as to why the Planning Commission said “no”. Rhodes pointed out a few important things, with one such fact being that the property is currently in violation of its current zoning, and that the Planning Commission would prefer to reserve the right to approve the property changes sought by Cost (an authority that would be ceded to Cost under the proposal). The goal is to shift the modifications from its current status to a “legally allowed” duplex status as determined by a temporary board of revision or to make further changes via the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Councilman Fraizer inquired as to whether the property owners drug test their prospective tenants. Mrs. Cost responded that they don’t. Councilman Rath noted his concern about a domino effect of zoning changes throughout the surrounding neighborhood. Then, when Rath went to ask Councilwoman Floyd for her opinion on the proposal since it involves her ward, Councilman Marmie called a point of order on him for having a discussion before the public hearing was closed. Then, after the hearing was closed shortly thereafter, Councilman Marmie started to express his concerns about the proposal only to interrupted by Rath who called a point of order on him for expressing an opinion before there was a motion to adopt.

Mr. Rath then made a motion, which was seconded by Bubb. Marmie, Floyd, Johnson, and Fraizer all spoke up about the ordinance before them. They all seemed to agree that they liked the spirit of what the Cost family was doing, but disagreed about the necessity of having a zoning change specified for one property. Floyd was particularly apprehensive about bringing in a new boarding house in a neighborhood near her home. Result: Failed 10-0.

Under the first section for citizens’ comments:

William Butcher again reminded Council about the need to pave the streets and allies, especially those near his home.

On to the legislation (descriptions as seen at my facebook page):

1) Ordinances (2nd Reading):

a. No. 16-03: a measure to amend our Property Maintenance Code for the purpose of "provid[ing] standard fees for certain abatement actions".

Result: Motion by Rath, seconded by Bubb. No discussion. Passes 10-0.

b. .

Result: .

2) Ordinances (1st Reading):

a. No. 16-04: with an emergency clause, making some adjustments to our code.

Result: Motion by Rath, seconded by Johnson. Rath explained that this is merely a formal, annual maneuver that the city has to do in order to bring local ordinances “in conjunction with the state”. Passes 10-0.

b. No. 16-05: permitting Service Director Rhodes to secure/renew a contract relative to Newark’s health services - with the Combined General Health District of Licking County.

Result: Held for a vote in two weeks.

c. No. 16-06: with an emergency clause, issuing $370,000.00 in bond anticipation notes for the purpose of paying the cost of improvements to the city’s landfill.

Result: Motion by Marmie, seconded by Floyd. No discussion. Passes 10-0.

d. No. 16-07A: amending our laws pertaining to “vicious dogs”.

* Creates four dog classifications: regular, nuisance (dogs that approach bystanders in a menacing fashion), dangerous (dogs which have injured a person or killed another dog, or which have been three times convicted by their owners as dogs which have escaped and run at large, or which have killed or seriously injured a person whilst defending their home), and vicious (any dog which has - without provocation, and excluding police dogs and dogs protecting their families - killed or seriously injured a person).

* Fines/punishment for owners whose dog is running at large imposed as follows: Regular dog (first offense sees a fine of $25-100, no jail, subsequent offenses leads to $75-250, and further offenses a judge can sentence 30 days in jail), nuisance dog (minor misdemeanor on par with speeding ticket with fine $0-150, subsequent offense is a fourth degree misdemeanor with $0-250 or 0-30 days in jail, third offense equals dangerous dog classification), dangerous dog (first offense leads to fourth degree misdemeanor with $0-250 fine and 0-30 days in jail, subsequent offense with third degree misdemeanor $0-500 fine and 0-60 days in jail) and vicious dog (hurts a person while at large: first offense: first degree misdemeanor, $0-1,000, 0-180 days in jail and possible euthanization. If the dog kills someone, it is a fourth degree felony with mandatory euthanization. Running at large without harming anyone, the dog is treated as a dangerous dog).

Result: Held for a vote in two weeks.

e. No. 16-08: closing an alley - at sixteen feet wide - located south of Linwood Avenue.

Result: Held for a vote in two weeks.

f. No. 16-09: closing an alley; located east of North Hazelwood Avenue.

Result: Held for a vote in two weeks.

3) Resolutions (2nd Reading): a. No. 16-23: a money-spending measure.

* From the Infrastructure (Bond Note) Fund, spending $15,077.78 for West Church Street "land improvements". City Engineer Morehead said that this is just "a re-appropriation of funds that was on a purchase order that was inadvertently closed at the end of 2015".

* From the Sewer Department Fund, $275,000 for "engineering services" in funding the "design of an anaerobic digester".

* From the Storm Water Projects Fund; Storm Water Utility Fund, $650,000 for "a stream bank restoration project at the diversion ditch out by Granville Road at Raccoon Creek" with half of the amount paid for by a grant from the Muskingum Water Conservancy District.

Result: Motion by Marmie, seconded by Floyd. No discussion. Passes 10-0.

b.

Result: .

c.

Result:

4) Resolutions (1st Reading): a. No. 16-24: spending money, with a request to vote on it without a second reading.

* Former tax department employee’s payout of $4,300 in unpaid “Vacation” time, and $3,750 in “Termination Compensation”.

Result: Marmie motions to waive two day reading rule, seconded by Bubb. Marmie explains that Council always tried to expedite payouts to former employees. Motion passes 10-0. Then, Marmie motions to adopt, Floyd seconds. No discussion. Passes 10-0.

b. No. 16-25: allowing Service Director Rhodes to secure a contract - without a requirement for bidding out the contract - for professional engineering services in connection with the design and construction of a Riverbank Filtration System Project.

Result: Held for a vote in two weeks.

c. No. 16-26: spending money.

* Appropriating $10,603 awarded via a grant from the Licking County Foundation for “upgrades” to TJ Evans, Everett, and Wilson Park.

* Disappropriating $500 pre-set in the general fund for a headstone.

* Appropriating that $500.

Result: Held for a vote in two weeks.

d. No. 16-27: with an emergency clause, permitting Service Director Rhodes to secure a no-bid “lease purchase agreement” to acquire a fire truck and to help pay for such via the proceeds from “sell[ing] an existing fire truck”.

Result: Motion by Marmie, seconded by Cost. No discussion. Passes 10-0.

e. No. 16-28: allowing Mayor Hall to apply for a 2016 Ohio Community-Police Relations Grant from the Ohio Department of Public Safety, Office of Criminal Justice Services.

Result: Motion by Marmie to waive two day reading rule, seconded by Floyd. Marmie explains that this needs to be voted on now to help meet an application deadline. Passes 10-0. Motion to adopt by Marmie, seconded by Floyd. No discussion. Passes 10-0.

Under the second section for citizens’ comments:

William Butcher again spoke up, this time in favor of the city taking action to make motorists pull over for emergency vehicles.

Three citizens then spoke out against repealing the breed specific legislation. One even indicated that he had been attacked recently. The dog reportedly tore his pants after he hit the dog on the head while trying to get the owner’s attention to inform him or her that their animal was loose. According to the gentleman, that dog was eventually put down.

Under Miscellaneous comments:

From the Administration, nothing.

Law Director: Nothing.

Mayor Hall complimented a few members of our safety forces for their participation in a recent Red Cross event. He also remarked on a few other charitable accomplishments in the area.

Council:

Floyd urged citizens to patronize the businesses affected by the downtown construction. She also remarked on work by the United Way, including how one member thereof is trying to draw attention to the issue of homelessness.

Fraizer expressed excitement for the direction the city is headed in “address[ing] the needs that are in our community”. He responded to the citizens who spoke out against BSL repeal, pointing out how the current law has not succeeded in keeping citizens safe and how the proposal will actually do more to secure us.

Marmie commented on how local students were en route to the nation’s Capitol.

Rath spoke up about some upcoming charitable fundraisers. Elaborated on his earlier opposition to the rezoning and how he always takes the Ward Councilmember’s take on such. He then echoed the sentiments expressed by Fraizer on BSL.

Blake praised Council’s approval of granting the Property Maintenance department some additional tools to do their job. Remarked on how it was a good thing that the fire chief’s department will be getting a new truck, and made mention of collaboration with the Mayor on the Youth Council.

Bubb welcomed new businesses to the area.

President Ellington noted the next meetings.

See you all next week. Thanks for reading.


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