The Van Wert County Courthouse

Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020

Council provides end to zoning dispute

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Van Wert City Council adopted legislation Monday that finally allows Haven of Hope homeless shelter to officially operate.

Council unanimously adopted emergency Resolution 20-08-041, which authorizes City Law Director John Hatcher to sign a consent agreement providing a settlement that ends the lawsuit Haven of Hope filed in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court.

Van Wert Councilman At-Large Bill Marshall listens during a discussion on increasing city mowing fees during Monday’s City Council meeting. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

Although the settlement provides conditions under which Haven of Hope must operate, including having a staff member or volunteer there at nights when homeless men are using the shelter, it also removes the final barrier to operating it. However, filing the lawsuit and installing a privacy fence, among other items, also increased the cost of operating the facility for the non-profit board that runs the shelter.

Council also unanimously adopted Ordinance 20-08-043, which enacts a video service fee of $5 per customer and specifically names TSC Communications as the cable service provider that must pay the fee.

During his report to Council, Mayor Ken Markward noted that the HVAC project at the Van Wert Municipal Building will begin tomorrow in the office of Safety-Service Director Jay Fleming, who is on vacation this week.

The mayor also provided an update on other city projects, noting that the water tower painting project is on schedule, with a coat of primer going on the tower at this time, and announcing that the Jefferson Street Bridge should likely be open, weather permitting, by next Monday, August 17.

He also mentioned the current North Washington Street paving project, which is currently concentrating on areas around the concrete circles on the street, with workers returning in a couple of weeks to repave, depending on the availability of paving machinery.

In other legislative action, Council prepared an ordinance that donates .2 of an acre of city-owned property on U.S. 127 to the Ohio Department of Transportation, as well as an ordinance doubling the fees charged for having the city mow yards. The measure passed 5-2, with First Ward Councilman Jeff Agler voting no because he felt the fees should be tripled, and Fourth Ward Councilman Andrew Davis saying he feels increasing the fees won’t likely provide an incentive for people — mostly out-of-town landowners — to mow their lawns.

As it now stands, the fees are assessed to property taxes, but the city often doesn’t see any of the money assessed when a property is sold because the properties usually sell for a low dollar figure and other lienholders are paid first.

Mayor Markward also mentioned during his report that the Heart Land Patriots will be having a meeting Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Wesley United Methodist Church on the topic of “Should Van Wert Become a Charter City?” 

Council President Jon Tomlinson also informed Council that El Mexicano restaurant is moving from its Westwood Drive location to 716 W. Ervin Road and has also filed a request to move its liquor license to the new address.

Agler also noted during the meeting that, because of the rescinding of an order by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine ending a moratorium on paying water bills, people could be receiving six months of water bills instead of the usual three months at the next billing date.

Because City Auditor Martha Balyeat was absent from Monday’s meeting, Tomlinson also provided information that would normally be part of her report. He noted that receipts for the Hotel-Motel Tax were down approximately 51 percent from last year, although Tomlinson said that shouldn’t affect agencies funded by the tax, since he believed there was a carryover in the fund from previous years. Income tax receipts were also down approximately $252,000 from last year, but Tomlinson said that was in line with Balyeat’s prediction the city would see up to a 10-percent decrease in funding this year.

The next meeting of Van Wert City Council will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday, August 24, in Council Chambers on the second floor of the Municipal Building. 

POSTED: 08/11/20 at 6:41 am. FILED UNDER: News