CALL TO ORDER Mayor Bellman convened the meeting at 7:32pm. ROLL CALL Those responding to the roll call were: Vice Mayor McGowan Councilmember Wernet Councilmember Lucier Mayor Bellman Councilmember Robertson Law Director Hurst Councilmember Minklei Manager Hickman Councilmember Lucier made a motion to excuse Councilmember Rader. Councilmember McGowan second. Motion Carried.
PUBLIC HEARING A public hearing was held on Ordinance No. 16-98, An Ordinance Authorizing The Approval Of An Offer To Purchase Real Property Commonly Know as 200 East Broadway by the Village of Granville.
Pete Marshall, 115 W. College Street, stated that as a taxpayer he has a problem with the $120,000 "swing" in the proposed final payment for the Bennett property. He asked where funding will be coming from and what the purpose of this purchase was. He feels that unless Council can tell the citizens exactly what it will cost the Village taxpayers, how it will be paid for, and what it will be used for, it would be irresponsible for Council to pass this ordinance.
Ed McCaul, 112 Victoria Drive, pointed out that the Village has zoning laws to protect this property if it were to be purchased by someone other than Village government. He also expressed his opinion that unless this property is used for municipal purposes, he is firmly against any government agency going into "Commercial Enterprise".
Maxine Montgomery, 2415 Newark Granville Road, expressed some of the same concerns and questions as Mr. Marshall and Mr. McCaul. She also questioned why this ordinance was introduced during the last meeting when she had previously been told that this ordinance was not on the agenda. She expressed concern that the public did not know this Ordinance was set for Public Hearing this evenings adding that she was aware of several citizens who would liked to have attended this public hearing but were unaware that it would be this evening.
Joanne Morey, 326 E. College Street, noted a letter she had written to Council regarding her opposition to the purchase of the Bennett property. She also stated she was in agreement with Ms. Montgomery and feels this whole procedure has been kept very quiet. She mentioned a rumor that the reason this Council is interested in this property is to protect its use. She added that there is adequate zoning in place to protect this use. She then noted that this property has been on the market for two years and feels that if this property were marketable it would have been sold. She asked why this Council feels it is smarter than the general public noting that, as a licensed Realtor, she has had serious buyers who could not find it economically feasible to purchase this property. She then asked Council why it was pursuing this property at the Village’s expense.
Bob Kent, 100 Pinehurst Drive and owner of The Granville Inn, stated he did not agree. He mentioned a flyer that has circulated representing area merchants who feel there should be more retail in the downtown area. He also mentioned the problem with parking and would like to see more parking in the downtown area. He believes it is farsighted for the Council to consider buying this "piece of ground". He alluded that given the benefit of additional parking, area merchants should pay for part of this expense.
Greg Ream, 79 Victoria Drive and owner of Taylor Drug, noted he was of the same opinion as Mr. Kent. He also feels that parking is the number one problem for downtown Granville, and also believes that area merchants should help pay for it. He noted that it takes higher numbers through the door for businesses to survive, and more feet require more cars which require more parking. He also feels it is farsighted that Council is thinking in this direction.
Joanne Morey argued that with the exception of July 4th and those types of occurrences, there is available parking within 2 blocks of downtown.
Pete Marshall asked Council if it had a licensed Commercial Real Estate Appraiser do a review of this property.
Mayor Bellman noted that the Village hired Ron Davis to do an appraisal on this property.
James Jump, 143 Thresher St. stated he had been in favor of the Village getting involved with the purchase of this property even before it was a reality, however he doesn’t know what the best use is for this property. He questioned tonight’s comments with regard to this property being used as a parking facility stating he was not aware that this was a specific use intended for this property.
Keith Myers, 229 E. College St. noted he was in favor of this acquisition and he also feels it shows foresight on the Council’s part. He pointed out that other communities have been successful in acquiring properties within Village boundaries noting Dublin was successful in acquiring one of its key intersections at S.R. 161 and S.R. 257.
Judy Guenther, 71 Donald Ross Drive and owner of Hare Hollow, stated though she is in favor of the Village purchasing this property, however, she would still like to see a task force established to review parking situations. She feels there is a need for more parking in the downtown are but is not convinced that the Bennett property is the only option.
Ed McCaul questioned whether Council had a plan for this property adding that he disagrees with purchasing this property until there is a plan.
Mayor Bellman discussed several reasons this would be an important purchase for the Village. He explained that the consensus among Council was that this was a key piece of property, and the common interest was in keeping and maintaining the economic viability of downtown Granville. He stated that negotiations would have been difficult if done in a public setting, noting that the Ohio Revised Code - Sunshine Law allows that discussions for the purchase of property be done in Executive Session for this very purpose. He also reminded that the use of this property would be reviewed with input from the public.
Vice Mayor McGowan remarked that during an Executive Session relating to this purchase, his vote was for the public to have input before a final decision was made. He recounted that he had questioned what the Village’s intention was for this property and was told it would be decided later. He stated he would not do that with his own money and therefore he is not in favor of this purchase.
Councilmember Lucier referencing one Councilmember’s interest in making this property a parking lot, stated she is opposed to this use. She feels that the goal is in keeping the vitality of downtown Granville the commercial, cultural and recreational center and feels it is Council’s task to acquire the property thereby giving the public a chance to pursue its possibilities.
Councilmember Robertson explained the reason for Council’s inability to speak publicly about possible use of this property was because Council was unable to publically speak about the purchase. She believes that downtown Granville is the glue for the community. She stated she favors acquiring the land and then deciding, as a community, what should be done with it.
Councilmember Minklei stated it is her belief that this is an incredible opportunity to retain control over one of the Village’s prime commercial spots. She feels this purchase is in line with the Comprehensive Plan and its goal of keeping the downtown a viable, healthy, and economic center. She also would not endorse using the property exclusively as a parking lot. She would like to see it used as retail.
Councilmember Wernet feels it is important that Village Offices be removed from potential retail space, and feels it is unfortunate that prime retail space is being used as Council Chambers. He suggested the possibility of a two or three story structure being erected on this site with the Village Offices being located on either the second or third floors. He feels the issue is to remove the Village Offices from first floor retail space, provide some additional parking and provide enough retail to defer some of the cost. He feels that with retail on the main level, there would be revenue for the structure in terms of taxes and rent. He then pointed out that a small portion of the funds to purchase this property would be needed at this time, noting that some of the money isn’t paid for 15 years from the date of purchase. Thus, the present value is less than the total payout over those 15 years. He noted that this meets the sellers needs as well as being beneficial to the Village.
Mayor Bellman feels that the economic vitality of the downtown commercial district is critical to our quality of life and our sense of identity to the community. He feels that everyone owning real estate in Granville gets a premium based on the viability of the downtown. He feels it is also important that this piece of property remain aesthetically pleasing. Noting his thoughts on the construction of a building on this property, he would like to see a building which would compliment the businesses by bringing people downtown on Friday and Saturday night.
In response to Ms. Montgomery, Law Director Hurst noted that Ordinance No. 16-98 was not on the tentative agenda for the meeting of September 2. He added that as there were a number of drafts and revisions to this purchase contract, unless the ordinance was introduced and a public hearing set at that time, given the timing restrictions, the contract would fail by its own terms. He noted there is a full 30 days from the date of passage before an ordinance becomes effective, therefore the need for introduction of this legislation during the meeting of September 2.
Mayor Bellman, explaining the finance process of this contract noted the desire of the seller was to get a type of pension. He feels this was a perfect match between the family selling the property and the Village adding this arrangement allowed the Village to take advantage of its tax free status and use money from its current balance without any bonding or additional costs.
In explaining several ideas for this property, Councilmember Wernet also mentioned the possible need for the Village to consider selling some of its current property in downtown Granville to offset future expenses. Vice Mayor McGowan suggested Council add Section IV to this ordinance which would read "the lot may not be used permanently as a parking lot but would be developed to insure the vitality of this lot and enhance the downtown as a business, cultural, social hub for Granville". He feels this would guarantee that the lot would not be used as a parking lot. Mayor Bellman asked whether Vice Mayor McGowan would be voting for the ordinance if this language were adopted. Vice Mayor McGowan then stated he was trying to add the language to improve the ordinance but that he still would not be voting for it.
There was a question as to what Council’s plans were for the building that currently resides on this property and if there was a projected cost to remove said building.
It was noted at this time that this had not been discussed.
It was also suggested that the lot be used for parking until a decision had been made as to its use. Some of the many ideas for this property were: a visitors center, an ice skating rink (during winter), public restrooms, etc.
Ed McCaul, speaking as an engineer, feels as there is no plan implemented for this property he is against this purchase based on speculation of its use. He also noted by renting space for retail, will increase the amount of parking more.
Jim Jump asked Council if any consideration had been made to the possibility of underground parking with a multi-use structure on top. He also asked if anyone had considered Community Improvement Corporation as noted under ORC 1710 to handle this kind of multiple use.
Pete Marshall, noting that this plan is being entered into with a cost estimate between $400,000 - $520,000, and there is no estimate for the cost of demolition; suggested if this were a discussion at a Board of Directors meeting of a Corporation, it would be considered insane. He feels Council is irresponsible if they continue with this acquisition.
Mary Fellabaum, 310 W. Elm Street, asked if the EPA was ever consulted. She also feels that buying a piece of property without a plan seems a bit "off cuff". She stated she hoped the funds used to purchase this property were not coming from the Green Space Fund. Councilmember Lucier responded by stating that an environmental study was being done as part of the contract. Mayor Bellman responded that Green Space money was not and could not be used for this purpose.
Kevin Bennett, 172 Mill Race, and representing his mother’s interest in this matter stated he understood the concerns voiced this evening. He noted that having had an appraisal that was significantly higher, the Bennetts don’t feel this is an overly generous price. He explained that his dad had originally listed the property at a price he knew would never sell as he was not in a hurry to sell the property. He also noted the love his parents had for this Village stating that his mother wished a party would purchase the property that would preserve the simple quality of downtown Granville. He added that this is why his mother accepted these below fair market value terms. He did note that it was not the wish of the Bennett family to sell to a Commercial Enterprise for fear of causing division in the community.
Councilmember Minklei feels the benefit of having a vibrant stretch of stores will outweigh any additional parking demands. She noted that she lives 1½ blocks from downtown Granville and stated there is always parking available in front of her house. She also suggested handicapped parking near the crosswalk in front of Taylor’s.
It was noted that ORC 1710 had not been considered.
It was noted that a provision in the purchase agreement states that the seller is required to review EPA issues at the seller’s expense. It was also noted that the EPA review is near completion.
Vice Mayor McGowan voiced a concern that more money is needed in addition to the purchase price. He feels the public should have more input. He then stated he is representing the taxpayers and does not support this deal.
Jennetta Pyle, 122 S. Prospect Street, stated she also has reservations about this purchase. She noted that in addition to a possible $100,000 needed for demolition, there is also talk of constructing a three story building with underground parking. She feels it is not proper to invest the funds to purchase the property not knowing how the Village will get a return.
Hal Jackson, owner of Victoria’s Parlour, asked if a task force or committee would be set up to review possible uses. It was noted that a task force would be considered.
Mayor Bellman closed the public hearing on Ordinance No. 16-98 at 8:56pm. Council took a 5 minute recess