The Van Wert County Courthouse

Tuesday, Jun. 2, 2020

Council prepares for zoning issue return

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Van Wert City Council members will be boning up on a zoning issue likely to return to Council sometime in the relatively near future.

Van Wert Law Director John Hatcher discusses information related to the Haven of Hope shelter zoning issue during Monday’s City Council meeting. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

The Van Wert Board of Zoning Appeals recently denied Haven of Hope shelter the ability to operate under the B-3 (business) zoning of its building — a former union hall located on North Market Street. That means the issue is likely to return to City Council, which would either affirm or overturn the Zoning Appeals Board decision.

City Law Director John Hatcher noted Monday that he was preparing a legal opinion on the definition of “semi-public use”, as well as some other information, including the definition of a drop-in center, which Hatcher said might be a better fit than homeless shelter for the facility Haven of Hope is planning on North Market.

The law director said he thought there was some confusion over terminology during the Board of Zoning Appeals meeting. The issue was brought to the board by several residents of the area near the Haven of Hope shelter who oppose the facility’s location because of its proximity to a residential area. Those opposed question whether the shelter falls under the “semi-public use” definition in the B-3 zoning code.

“What I plan to address is the definition (and) litigation that has occurred regarding that definition,” Hatcher said, noting that he would also include information on whether other communities have allowed a homeless shelter to operate under that usage.

“I think addressing those three points should be appropriate to give each and every one of you … the proper information in which to make that vote,” Hatcher added.

The law director also noted, though, that no matter what decision City Council makes on the issue, he feels the issue is likely to be appealed further to Van Wert County Common Pleas Court.

Council members and Hatcher also discussed developing language that would fit the homeless shelter usage within the city’s zoning code. At this time, the zoning code contains no specific language related to homeless shelters. 

However, Council President Jon Tomlinson noted that, since the Haven of Hope shelter exists now, it would not fall under any zoning language developed from this point on.

“We have to operate on what the verbiage says right now,” Tomlinson noted. “That’s what we have to make our decisions on.”

Also Monday, Council learned from Safety-Service Director Jay Fleming that a new Braun squad vehicle was recently delivered to the Van Wert Fire Department and will be in service soon. The new EMS vehicle replaces a 2005 Braun ambulance that the city plans to sell to Wren Volunteer Fire Department. Council adopted legislation allowing the sale of the 2005 vehicle, as well as a resolution allowing the city to sell other unused vehicles on an Internet sales site.

Council also approved an ordinance amending current language related to Van Wert Municipal Court employees.

Fleming also reported briefly on the approximately $1 million street paving project planned for the 2020 construction season. That’s in addition to Ohio Department of Transportation paving projects planned for portions of North Washington and Main streets.

The next meeting of Van Wert City Council will be at 6:30 p.m. Monday, February 10, in Council Chambers on the second floor of the Municipal Building, 515 E. Main St.

POSTED: 01/28/20 at 8:50 am. FILED UNDER: News