The Van Wert County Courthouse

Saturday, Jul. 2, 2022

Council discusses zoning, city finances

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Van Wert City Council further discussed the Haven of Hope zoning issue, heard some reasonably positive financial news from City Auditor Martha Balyeat, and approved both an amended salary ordinance for non-union city workers and a new contract for workers represented by the American Federal, State, County, Municipal Employees union.

Van Wert Law Director John Hatcher (shown from a pre-COVID-19 meeting) again discussed the Haven of Hope zoning issue at Monday’s virtual Van Wert City Council meeting. VW independent file photo

Council, which again met via Zoom software, first heard from Crisis Care Director Kathy Taylor, who first informed Council members that Crisis Care accepts both men and women, as well as children, at its shelter and noted she was concerned that Council provide adequate zoning classifications not only for Haven of Hope, but for Crisis Care and the YWCA’s Transitional and Domestic Violence housing programs.

Joshua Nolan, the attorney who represents Haven of Hope, also shared his concerns that Council ensures that it provides a list of conditions that must be met to meet a conditional zoning classification. When told the city’s conditional usage was just a general classification that still required a hearing through the Zoning Board of Appeals, Nolan said he felt such a vague “conditional usage” definition would likely not comply with state zoning laws.

The Haven of Hope attorney added that any new zoning definition for the shelter would need to provide a specific path it could follow to become operational. If not, Nolan noted, Haven of Hope would be better off continuing its lawsuit, which he said had “a high likelihood of success,” rather than put itself at the mercy of a vague zoning definition that would only lead back to City Council and another rejection.

During her report, Balyeat noted that it appears as if the city may not suffer as much financially from the COVID-19 pandemic as first thought. The auditor said most of the city’s large employers are still operating as essential businesses, while Van Wert stands its best chance this year, compared to any recent year, of overcoming COVID-19 revenue losses estimated at anywhere from 6-10 percent.

“We can weather the storm,” Balyeat said, noting that a 10 percent loss of approximately $600,000 would “barely” fall within the city’s reserve fund total.

Gasoline revenues are another issue, though, as decreasing gas prices and lower usage during the stay at home period would have a more significant effect on those revenues, although it’s not clear just how much at this point.

Mayor Ken Markward noted that curbside recycling collection will begin again on Monday, May 4, but that city residents with a large amount of recycling can take it to the recycling center’s drive-thru collection point on either Wednesday or Friday of this week.

Safety-Service Director Jay Fleming said the Municipal Building will remain closed for the present time, but could reopen in the relatively near future.

During its legislative action, City Council amended a salary ordinance for employees of the city Service Department, Income Tax Department, Auditor’s Office, Water and Sewer office, and administrative office to change the hours for all of the above offices, except the Service Department, to read “up to 8 hours a day and up to 40 hours a week,” rather than a flat 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week.

That ordinance was then adopted unanimously on first and final reading on an emergency basis, while Council also approved Ordinance 20-03-019, which changes a parking space 82 feet north of the Main and Shannon street intersection from a loading zone to 15-minute parking, and a new contract for AFSCME-represented city employees.

The next meeting of Van Wert City Council will be at 6:30 p.m. Monday, May 11. That meeting may be again held in Council Chambers, Council President Jon Tomlinson said, while adding it’s too soon to know that for sure.

POSTED: 04/28/20 at 12:09 am. FILED UNDER: News