The Van Wert County Courthouse

Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021

Council OKs fence legislation definitions

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Van Wert City Council discussed concerns related to downtown development and provided information related to a virtual open house on the city’s new FEMA flood plain map, while legislation providing new fence regulations was taken off the table and introduced during Monday’s meeting.

Van Wert Councilman-At-Large Jeff Kallas leads a discussion on concerns among downtown business owners concerning possible rent increases. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

Economic Development Committee Chair Jeff Kallas said he had heard some concerns from downtown business owners that the Van Wert County Foundation would be increasing downtown building rents significantly in the future.

“There’s some real anxiety,” Kallas said, adding that some business owners are worried that large rent increases could threaten their businesses’ survival.

Foundation representative Block Hall noted that the foundation is working with busines owners that are its tenants, but added that those discussions have been centered around what current tenants are capable of affording.

“We don’t want to lose any tenants downtown,” Hall said, noting that, instead, the foundation is actively working to retain existing businesses in the downtown area.

Economic Development Director Stacy Adam suggested that any business owners or Council members with concerns could also attend monthly open forums conducted by the foundation at Brewed Expressions, with the next meeting scheduled for Tuesday, March 9, starting at 6 p.m. Adam said the forums were “a good opportunity for a casual conversation” with the Van Wert Forward development team about plans for the downtown area.

Mayor Ken Markward reminded Council members and city residents of a virtual open house being held Thursday, March 4, to discuss FEMA’s new flood plain map.

Those city residents whose property is affected by the new flood plain map have already been sent letters to that effect, according to Safety-Service Director Jay Fleming.

The countywide flood plain virtual open house will be held from 5-7 p.m. March 4 via Zoom. The meeting ID number is 970 1814 0144, and the password is 033331. The meeting can be accessed at https://stantec.zoom.us/j97018140144?pwd=akF4cmdzMmFjd2NnWkJrRG1QRko0Zz09.

Council also held a discussion on fence regulations, with First Ward Councilman Jeff Agler noting he wasn’t comfortable with using a percentage to determine whether a fence needed to be replaced under the new regulations.

Others agreed, with Council President Jon Tomlinson noting that Council could decide to treat fences the way remodeling old houses is treated. Noting that while remodeling his older home, any changes to the existing structure needed to be brought up to code, Tomlinson suggested that, while current fences are grandfathered in under a new regulation, any changes or replacements to an existing fence must meet the new regulation’s requirements.

Council adopted that idea and Health-Service-Safety Committee Chair Bill Marshall later had the legislation brought off the table and it was introduced and read for the first time. The legislations will go through three readings.

During his report, Safety-Service Director Jay Fleming noted that city employees worked more than 100 overtime hours on snow removal, adding that he and others had received a number of compliments on snow removal, especially in the downtown area.

Fleming did note that he had received some complaints about mailboxes being knocked down, while stating that the city will only replace mailboxes that are directly hit by a snowplow, not those that fall down from having snow hit them.

Fleming also noted that the Municipal Building’s new HVAC system is now officially in operation, along with three new water fountains.

Fourth Ward Councilman Andrew Davis also initiated a brief discussion of whether City Council should be involved in selecting a new safety-service director sometime in the future. Noting that current city legislation makes selecting a safety-service director a “mayor-only” decision, Davis said he had researched the issue, finding that many communities do involve their Councils in such a decision.

Markward said Council should probably get a legal opinion from Law Director John Hatcher on whether the Ohio Revised Code even allows a municipal council to be involved in the selection of a safety-service director before moving forward on further discussion. 

Legislatively, Council approved, via its consent agenda, two measures allowing the city to sell unused personal property, including vehicles, through Internet auctions on first and final reading.

Other legislative action included the following:

  • Approved two Community Reinvestment Act requests, one from Trucent Renewable Chemicals LLC and the other from First Federal Savings & Loan.
  • Adopted an ordinance on first and final reading that would detach a parcel of land on John Brown Road from the city.
  • Tabled a resolution accepting the Van Wert Forward downtown redevelopment plan until the next meeting.
  • Read for the first time a resolution authorizing the mayor and auditor to sign a partnership agreement with the Van Wert County Board of Commissioners for an Ohio Department of Development Community Development Block Grant.
  • Read for the second time an ordinance modifying the speed limit to 45 mph on a portion of Mendon Road that is in the city limits.

The next meeting of Van Wert City Council will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 8, in Council Chambers on the second floor of the Municipal Building, 515 E. Main St.

POSTED: 02/23/21 at 2:04 am. FILED UNDER: News