VILLAGE OF GRANVILLE
NOVEMBER 18, 2015
CALL TO ORDER (by Mayor Hartfield at 7:30pm)
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Those responding to the roll call were Councilmembers Johnson, Lerner, McGowan, Montgomery, O’Keefe, Vice Mayor Barsky, Mayor Hartfield, Law Director King and Manager Stilwell.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Councilmember McGowan moved to approve the agenda as presented. Second by Vice Mayor Barsky. Motion passed.
CITIZENS COMMENTS (7:31pm)
Tracee Lang, 494 North Granger Street, indicated that she was happy to see Council addressing the issue of solar energy. Ten years ago, when she put solar panels on her home, the Village position was that panels on a roof would be looked at as blight in a neighborhood. She hoped that Council would help promote solar power as a benefit for the community as well as the environment.
Gill Wright Miller, 411 Welsh Hills Road, wished to address Council regarding the Commons Pleas Court Judgement Entry ordering Council to make a finding concerning Section 1157.14(i) as to whether the Denison solar project constituted a “commercial use.” As Council stated in the original appeal hearing that “it could not determine whether the proposed conditional use constitutes a commercial use for the purposes of Granville Code 1157.14(i). Presumably, the Council cannot issue a conditional use permit for an accessory use which violates this provision. Accordingly, Council shall make a finding concerning Section 1157.14(i).” Ms. Miller advised Council that they could not simply revisit the March 11th hearing information and submit a decision based on that information as Council stated that the evidence does not support a finding. Council cannot go back and find evidence as Mike King has suggested. The Court is requiring Council to take additional evidence and the Court stated that Council violated its duty by not making a finding. Making a decision now, on a lack of evidence, would be arbitrary and an abuse of discretion making it difficult to appeal to the Common Pleas Court. Ms. Miller requested a new hearing for Council to take evidence. The appellants believe Denison withheld information from the residents and Council. Denison’s definition of commercial use was limited. If AEP was engaging in commercial activity, that was prohibited. Denison said that the solar array was to generate power for Denison’s use only. However, was there a direct power line to Denison’s buildings, does the power go to AEP’s larger power grid and what happens if the array generates extra power, where would that go? The residents were not privileged to review Denison’s agreements with AEP. Council could not rely on what Denison said was in the agreement with AEP and Council should have requested all such agreements. It remained Denison’s burden to prove that it was not a commercial use. The Court ordered Council to make this determination, which should require an additional hearing. For Council to determine from existing evidence that the proposed solar array was not a commercial use, as your attorney has advised, would be irresponsible and risk continued appeal.
Ms. Miller indicated that she was stunned that Council had not requested a copy of the contract between AEP and Denison. Village regulations state that you had to determine commercial use. Council had to determine if there was commercial use because you did not have enough evidence. There was a contract between Denison and AEP that was an assumption. You did not ask for what that agreement was? How were you expecting to make a decision as to commercial use? How could you make that decision without asking to see that agreement? Does that not have to be part of the application or in the finding of fact, because you have to make a decision about that?
Councilmember Johnson asked if Council was only permitted to examine elements that were discussed at the BZBA hearing during the appeal hearing. Was Council limited to what was allowed to look based on the information presented at the BZBA hearing and the information presented at the Council appeal hearing? Law Director King responded that Councilmember Johnson was absolutely correct. When the application was before the BZBA, at no point was the issue of commercial use raised in front of the BZBA. It was not part of the application process. When the neighbors filed their appeal to Council, the code required that they list their reasons for the appeal and nothing was mentioned as to the commercial use issue. That issue never came up until it was being heard in front of Council during the appeal. There was no testimony during the BZBA hearing and only a little testimony during the appeal hearing to Council. Law Director King’s advice to Council was that it was not properly before Council and Council did not have to pass on it at all. Judge Marcelain has remanded a Judgment Entry back to Council for a decision. With this remand, Council had two options, to review the record and determine if there was enough evidence to make a decision or if no evidence could be found, to reopen the appeal hearing to address just the commercial use issue. Council was never in the position to ask for evidence or documents that were not part of an appeal. Issues were narrowed as proceedings move through the court process. If the BZBA had heard evidence about this issue and the issue was properly raised, then Council could have requested additional information. The neighbor’s attorney could have crossed examined Denison during the appeal hearing and brought in additional evidence. If the evidence had been properly before you and you had asked for the additional evidence, you, no doubt, would have received it. This issue was not raised and was not part of the appeal.
Due to a presentation being made to the Granville High School girls’ softball team and the number of residents interested in speaking, Mayor Hartfield entertained a motion to amend the agenda. Councilmember Montgomery moved to amend the agenda to move the Presentation portion of the agenda next and then resume the meeting as scheduled. Second by Councilmember McGowan. Motion passed.
Mayor Hartfield read a proclamation to the Granville High School girls’ softball team for winning the Division II state championship. Each team participant and coaches were recognized - seniors Abby Barker, Jackie Moore, Maddy Richardson and Olivia Simon, juniors Anna Moorehead and Shelby Sprouse, sophomores Sophia Ehlers, Karissa Harris and Liaya Johnson, freshman Hallie Garman, Megan Gummere, CeCe Maclae, Lexie McDonie, Rose Sawyers and Abby Skerbetz.
Council resumed Citizen Comments.
Ms. Miller stated that what Mike King just said was not true. She swore under oath that she raised the issue of commercial use with the BZBA. She also knew for a fact that our attorney asked Denison about commercial use. She stated that her conversations with Planner Terry about filing an appeal and now feel like I was deceived. “First, Kathy Standley and I were each going to file an appeal and were advised that we only needed to file one appeal that it did not matter whose names were on the appeal that an appeal was an appeal. But when the appeal started, only people’s names that were on the appeal had standing and were interested parties. I asked if everything we were appealing had to be listed and the answer was unequivocally no. You just have to say something more than we just do not like it. I do not think you should have to be an attorney to file an appeal. We should be able to ask Village Council personnel questions and be given correct information. I was doing what I was told. I raised that issue with the BZBA.”
Ms. Miller commented that they were not opposed to solar arrays or opposed to environmental solutions to reduce the carbon footprint. They were arguing that the Institutional District and conditional use rules and laws need to be upheld. Ms. Miller said that she would applaud Denison for erecting a solar array where it was legal to do so. She also thought that there were moral and ethical issues involving who had to bear the burden of the cost. Ms. Miller wanted to ask the question, as a full-time, thirty-five year Denison employee, with the thirteen new buildings that have gone up in the last ten years and the new performing arts building that was being proposed right now, why were there no solar panels on any of those buildings. Perhaps a decade ago, solar energy was not in the consciousness of Denison, but should have been in the last five years. Denison put out a report in July, 2012 that putting in a solar array was not a good idea because of the type of sun we had and other issues. The sustainability director wrote that in the comments. The question was not about solar, but the legitimate location of solar and whether this project was even about solar or simply a business plan. It was also about what Granville had in their zoning rules and laws and whether we should be helping each other uphold those laws, instead of ruling in favor of the giant in the neighborhood.
Thomas Mallory, 720 East Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio, attorney for the neighbors, commented about whether the issue was raised properly, which was why the judge did not agree and sent back the remand. The judge clearly stated “presumably, the Council cannot issue a conditional use permit for an accessory” that would violate your code. Additionally, I did cross examine Seth Patton about the issue of commercial use. I asked the Law Director if additional evidence could be presented and he said yes. We cross examined Seth Patton about this issue.
Jurgen Pape, 3 Parnassus Village Drive, voiced his support for the Denison solar array. He felt that location was good and would be a natural extension for lab work experiences for students within the Bio-Reserve. He applauded Denison’s attempt to reduce their carbon footprint.
Brett Stiltner, 451 Welsh Hills Road, indicated that the Welsh Hills Road residents were not totally against solar. They were against being taken advantage of by people who deceive through their preparation and planning through the Planning Commission and BZBA. Welsh Hills Road residents were being treated unfairly. In trying to research information regarding the solar array appeal on the Village website, there was no information about Application #2014-187 that appeared in the minutes. Why are those meeting minutes all omitted about this application? Nothing is available. This information should be available for people to research. This issue should not have gotten to this point. He and his neighbors were just regular people fighting a giant (Denison). They have an endowment, we have nothing. Nothing has been fair. He believed that residents were late in being notified. The whole thing was a fly by night operation. It should have been done a little more accordingly, instead of slamming it through the BZBA. Denison knew the law, felt no one would fight them and thought no one could stop anything. It did not go through, the residents stopped it. They(?) should be able to interpret the law if they were working here. That was a pretty important thing on the job title. I am angry that this did not happen. It was costing me my hard earned money to file this with a court in Newark because Council could not decide what you want to do. You can’t decide if it was a commercial use or not. You can’t follow your own rules. If the residents didn’t hire a lawyer to check you, this would have been okay. Denison would have gotten what they wanted and built it in 2016. Denison also changed the dates to 2017. I am sure that Seth Patton said 2016. As soon as I find these minutes, I will find where Seth Patton said 2016. I am feeling deceived. Mr. Stiltner thanked Mayor Hartfield for her vote against the array.
Mr. Stiltner provided Council with a definition of commercial – “occupied with or engaged in commerce or work intent for commerce.” He also provided a definition for commerce – “the exchange or buying and selling of commodities on a large scale involving transportation from place to place” like electric over wires from across the road to the other side of the road. He provided a definition of commodities “economic goods.” It could be agriculture, mining or electricity, for example.
Kathy Standley, 379 Welsh Hills Road, said that all she had ever asked for was for the zoning board and Village Council to do their job to protect the residents. Instead, the BZBA rushed the decision through and did not follow the rules. She asked that Council enforce the zoning code. It took an appeal to Council to call out Council’s failure to make a decision about commercial use.
Barb Stiltner, 451 Welsh Hills Road, questioned how the process got this far. Council should have made the correct judgment and not let Denison strong arm the Village. Mrs. Stiltner said residents had been cheated, lied to and deceived, but residents were willing to continue to fight. Seth Patton said that if the process and money were not available by 2016, the array would not move forward. Now, suddenly, it is 2017. Denison came in and cut down over two hundred trees due to the endangered Indiana bat, an endangered Indiana bat that no one seemed concerned about. Those bats were now roosting in the dead trees on the ground. They cut down old, big trees that they did not have permission to cut down. The residents should not have been the people to stop this request, the zoning board and Council should have stopped it.
Ms. Stiltner also expressed her support for solar energy and environmental issues. She indicated that she was a member of environmental groups because she believed in the importance of preserving the environmental. She commented that the proposed solar panels presented to the neighbors were large, out-of-date solar. We know for a fact that there were smaller, more efficient panels that could be used.
Laura Collins, 535 Welsh Hills Road, supported her neighbors. It was disappointing that the Commission could not follow their own rules before they approved the solar array. When it went to Village Council, all Council was concerned about was making this work. Why? Council does not make things work for other businesses in the community. Other people had to submit information about what type of concrete they were using or had projects stopped even after permits were approved. Council and the Building and Zoning Commission were not consistent, ignored their own rules and took away the neighbor’s voice of reason. You allowed Denison to own a golf course with 1,000 acres of land outside of their campus that does not pay taxes. They own an Inn and restaurant that they received lots of tax breaks for and could not go through a private investor. Denison came to the rescue. Whose pocket were all of you in - in Denison’s pocket or the taxpayers? Denison had over 1,000 acres that the solar array could have gone on, but they chose my backyard. People would see the array from anywhere on Welsh Hill Road. It was not a short installation and would reflect into my back windows. It would absolutely affect my property values. If it were in your backyard, you would be as hot under the collar as we were.
Kathy Williams. 469 Welsh Hills Road, also supported her neighbors. She was fighting for her rights. Denison carried the burden of proof. She asked if the Village Council had been in touch with Denison since the Judgment Entry. She asked for a copy of that information. Mayor Hartfield asked what specifically she was looking for or requesting. Ms. Williams asked about the contract between Denison and AEP and if it been seen by the Village. Mayor Hartfield responded that she knew of no contract and no contract had ever been seen by Council. Ms. Williams asked if Council had ever asked for that contract. Mayor Hartfield responded that no contract was ever requested.
Ms. Williams added that Denison cut down all the trees, but the bats were still nesting in the dead trees. It did no good to cut down those trees as the bats were still roosting.
Chris Lucas-Miller, 595 Welsh Hills Road, asked if anyone on Council had the BZBA hearing record in front of them. Mayor Hartfield responded that Council did not have a copy of that packet. Mr. Lucas-Miller asked if it was a surprise that the residents were here to talk about it. Council responded in the affirmative. Mr. Lucas-Miller commented that he could not believe that it was a surprise that the residents would be here to talk about the solar array decision that was remanded to you at the same time that you were revisiting language about solar energy production facility. He could not believe that it would be a surprise that a group of people that have appealed were now asking for clarity on that appeal. It was shocking to him that Mr. King would not have that record and Ms. Prasher would not have that record. Manager Stilwell interrupted to advise Council that this portion of the meeting was to receive comments from the public. Mr. Lucas-Miller agreed that Council should not, on their own, think to come up with the records or that maybe someone from the group that was appealing would come up and ask questions about this issue. But Mr. King probably should have had the transcript with him. He should have thought that Mr. Mallory would have shown up, that Ms. Miller would have shown up and that these things might be asked for. Vice Mayor Barsky responded that there were two issues on the agenda – a public hearing on the codified ordinances pertaining to the use of solar as a conditional use and the Judgment Entry regarding your appeal that will be discussed in Executive Session. Vice Mayor Barsky appreciated the neighbor’s concerns about the request for a change in the code’s language. The code language change was only indirectly related to the existing appeal. During Executive Session, the Village Law Director would speak to Council regarding the remand by Judge Marcelain. These were two separate issues. The Executive Session would allow Council to review that information with the law director for the first time. Council was not permitted to make any decision in Executive Session, but could come out of Executive Session and discuss any proposed course of action. Regarding the Public Hearing dealing with the code change in definitions in the Institutional District, Council discussed, during its last meeting, that there were issues with that ordinance including whether it was appropriate to discuss changing this issue while the appeal hearing was ongoing. Mr. Lucas-Miller asked if the Executive Session would be this evening and if Mr. King would present evidence to you about the appeal. Vice Mayor Barsky responded that Law Director King would be talking to Council about the Judgment Entry. Mr. Lucas-Miller said that he would come prepared with anything and everything from the BZBA testimony and the Council appeal hearing to discuss this issue with Council. Law Director King explained that Council could not make a decision following the Executive Session other than to direct staff or counsel on how to proceed – whether to develop a resolution with a substantive decision to the Judgment Entry, which would then be place on a Council agenda. The Executive Session was called for me to provide any legal advice, answer questions and to discuss possible options. Following the Executive Session, Council may decide to hold another hearing. A hearing would then be scheduled for a specific Council meeting with you, the other residents, Mr. Mallory, Denison or Council able to discuss. No one was hiding records, minutes or anything. The whole purpose was to make things open and transparent. Mr. Lucas-Miller stated that it did not seem open and transparent, because the minutes that you speak of were not really accessible. A member of the audience voiced that he easily located those minutes of the BZBA meeting of January 8, 2015 on his cell phone.
Mayor Hartfield cautioned the audience. She understood that this issue was an emotional and heated for many people, but the meeting would maintain order. Citizens’ Comments could not be another opportunity to hear the appeal. She advised Mr. Lucas-Miller that he was attempting to testify about things Council was not prepared to discuss.
Tim Collins, 535 Welsh Hills Road, thanked Clerk Prasher for providing information regarding the notices of hearing he expressed concern about at the last Council meeting. Mr. Collins asked Law Director King if he had spoken with Denison since the remand was received. Law Director King responded that he had numerous communications that included Denison and Mr. Mallory where both parties were included, except an email with Mr. Mallory asking about the process for this evening. Mr. Collins asked about the finalized minutes of the original BZBA hearing. He stated that the minutes that were originally presented were changed by the BZBA. Law Director King believed that the minutes were amended between the March 4th and March 11th Council appeal hearing. Mr. Collins stated he could not understand how this issue could have gotten to this point. It was obvious that the original application was not handled correctly. How could a solar array be approved for a ten to thirteen acre site in a bio-reserve? Denison’s presentation had nothing to do with the potential commercial between Denison and AEP. They mentioned it haphazardly. Denison also pushed that the project had to be pushed to be completed by 2016. Now Denison claims they have until 2017 to do the project. If 2017 was the date, why was it necessary for the BZBA to rush to judgment. Denison put Village Council in a very bad position as you had to rule on things when there was time to take and go back and address these issues. If the time would have been taken, we, the residents, would not have had to use our funds to fight Denison. Council made rulings that were against your own rules. Denison presented this project as something that was good for everyone, when it was only good for Denison. It did not help the community.
Mr. Collins commented that this issue had nothing to do with solar. It was all about if you follow your own rules. They did not do a plan to present to the BZBA as to if the array would affect property values. I did not care if there was a Walmart or a solar array in my backyard, nobody did that. The pathetic thing that Denison did was to say they went out on the internet and could not find squat. That was it. They did studies to find out if it would affect bats, the flood plain and a possible archeological site, but for the neighbors they did not do anything. Denison lied in front of you guys because the BZBA did not follow their own rules. Council made a bad decision and the judge told you so and sent it back. This had nothing to do with solar. It had everything to do with the fact that you must follow your own rules. Because it was not that way, it cost me a lot of time, money and effort and cost Council time, money and effort. That was what this was about, you do not follow your own rules.
Jenny Miller, 596 North Pearl Street, said that her home was directly across from the location where Sherry Mitchell was hit on September 22, 2015. She indicated that her twelve year old son was the first to hear the impact and witness the result of the accident. Her husband was a first responder. She hoped that Village Council would address that intersection and find a more efficient way to cross. She reacts now to every screech of tires that she hears thinking it could be another person. Ms. Miller offered to permit a sidewalk to extend across her property. The current traffic was also fast. If people were encouraged to cross the roadway further north, across from the Denison soccer fields, it might be safer. She also suggested installing additional signage. Mayor Hartfield and Council advised Ms. Miller that this issue was in the process of being addressed and that Ms. Mitchell’s accident weighed heavily on Council’s mind.
Dawn Busalacchi, 115 Shawn Court, expressed her support of the solar array project. Ms. Busalacchi spoke about her support of solar energy in general. Solar projects generally do not install more panels than they can use. Should additional energy be generated by panels that energy could be sold back to the utility. Neither of these actions make the process commercial. She expressed her sympathy for the residents directly impacted by this project. A bigger picture perspective regarding this project would be the overall benefit to the community with the reduction of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere that were directly linked to causes of extreme weather events. She also expressed sympathy for the removal of the trees as it was a loss to the local environment. As more energy sources transition to sources that would not contribute to pollution, specifically CO2 emissions, this effort would mitigate and minimize the impact to many ecological communities including bats, both locally and regionally. The commercial aspect would be revisited in the future during more citizen comment. The attempt to characterize it as a commercial use was an unknown. If it were declared that way, it could possibly eliminate residential solar installations in the future. It was important to tread very carefully.
David Rouse, 6297 Lafayette Road, would like to see Council promote the use of solar energy throughout the Village. He had participated in the Licking County solar conference and was highly supportive of Denison’s installation of the solar array.
Jeremy King, 316 Welsh Hills Road, spoke as a neighbor and representative of Denison. I was advised at the beginning of this process to not take anything personally; however, that advice was becoming harder to take. Throughout this process I have been called a liar. As a representative of Denison, Denison has been told we have been deceitful and not truthful. Throughout the process, I have been willing to provide information, documents, meet and speak with neighbors and been forthcoming with all information that I had available. Nothing was hidden. All of the comments that Denison did not provide information or records, I believed that all information was provided and was in the record. I certainly have been supportive of solar arrays and with my experience with many solar array installations, I feel competent to discuss this issue. Mr. King indicated that he would like to see the Village be more proactive and supportive of solar for everyone in the community. I would hope policies and practices could be adopted to promote solar energy. Regarding the issue of 2016 versus 2107, the federal government grants state that if entities wish to participate in the program, submissions must be made by December 31, 2016. That date was stated throughout the process. Denison worked with the neighbors beginning in October 2014 to initiate discussions regarding this issue. An application for this project was submitted to the BZBA in December, 2014. The BZBA held its hearing in January, 2015. I feel like the process was not rushed and has been open and above board.
David English, 138 North Main Street, wanted to discuss the common definition of commercial use. The most frequently cited definition was “any business or undertaking intended for profit.” Regarding whether the solar array would be a commercial use facility would be addressed by additional definitions – would the intended use of the solar array facility result in commercial use or would the construction or finance result in commercial use. Mr. English claimed that neither would result in a commercial use. The solar power generation array was not intended to generate electricity for sale. The purpose was to generate power for internal consumption. It was anticipated that the array would generate only 15% of Denison’s energy usage and during peak periods up to 50% use. Mr. English argued that using something for the University’s own use could not be considered a commercial use. Currently, Denison’s heating plant produced heat for Denison’s internal consumption and that was not considered a commercial. AEP would own the equipment for the solar array on Denison property. As part of the proposed agreement, Denison would purchase the solar generating electricity from AEP, just like it purchases electricity currently. It would be possible for some periods, maybe a few hours, when the combination of ample sun and low demand could result in a surplus of electricity. In those rare instances, Denison would send that electricity back to the grid and Denison would receive credit for only one-third of the price of that electricity against our electric bill. This type of rare instance would not cause the entire site to be considered a commercial use. The second question regarding if there was an aspect of how the solar facility would be funded that would cause the site to be a commercial use. This issue seemed to stem from the issue of Denison leasing the array equipment. This lease would be a method to purchase. Denison leased many other types of equipment from copiers or other equipment for University use. The lease of equipment was a common policy for public schools, universities and other non-profits. These leases were a means to maintain more up-to-date equipment and not be evaluated as a commercial use. Mr. English summarized that evaluating whether the solar array was a commercial use should be based on only one criteria, the array was for Denison’s internal use.
Tom Evans, 226 South Main Street, indicated that his home had a solar array. He indicated that he had benefited from the Licking County Solar Coop through the leadership of Richard Downs and Jeremy King. I agreed with the comments made by Mr. English regarding the commercialization of solar energy. He indicated that he also had a contract with AEP related to the solar array and the use of the grid. He felt he did not have a commercial operation and did not feel that the solar array proposed by Denison satisfied any criteria for being commercial.
As no one else appeared to speak, Mayor Hartfield closed Citizen Comments at 9:23pm.
Ordinance No. 12-2015, An Ordinance to Amend Sections 1135.01 and 1169.02 of the Codified Ordinances of the Village of Granville, Ohio Pertaining to Zoning Definitions and Permitted and Conditional Uses in the Institutional District
Mayor Hartfield advised the audience that Council would not be closing the hearing nor acting on Ordinance No. 12-2015.
Tom Busalacchi, 115 Shawn Court, questioned why a small sized array was limited to ten panels or less, which did not produce much electricity at all. Mr. Busalacchi recommended that the distinction be made based on percentage of use. Law Direction King indicated that the number was just a starting point to designate a difference between small and large arrays. Staff was gathering more research and input from solar experts. That number may well change. Staff would work to find the most sensible, pragmatic approach.
Norm Kennedy, 2325 Hankinson Road, had a question about the definition for the size of systems for both permitted and conditional uses. He indicated that the two utilities that serve this district (AEP and Energy Coop) define small sizes as less than 24 kilowatt usage and large systems as anything above 25 kilowatt usage. In researching a solar project for his own home, Mr. Kennedy found that solar energy generators came in many form including shingles, awnings, screens, windows and work was being done to develop solar paint. He encouraged Council to look at a wider range of options to include as part of this ordinance and use the recommendations from utility companies.
Mayor Hartfield held the Public Hearing open for Ordinance No. 12-2015.
Ordinance No. 14-2015, An Ordinance to Appropriations for Current Expenses and Other Expenditures of the Village of Granville, State of Ohio, During the Fiscal Year Ending December 31, 2016
Manager Stilwell advised that this Ordinance would set the budget beginning January 1, 2016 for the Village. Staff was prepared to make a formal presentation at Council’s request.
Councilmember McGowan asked if there were any changes from the earlier presentation. Manager Stilwell indicated that changes were made, per Council’s request, including the transfer of $50,000 to the Pathway Fund, a transfer to the Capital Fund of $200,000 and the non-bargaining employees COLA and merit/bonus increases as previously outlined to Council. Mr. McGowan expressed his concern in using the term COLA increases as the cost of living did not increase 1.5% in 2015, this was a bonus. Social Security recipients would not receive an increase for the third time in three years because the federal government said there was not such an increase in inflation. Non-bargaining employees receive a bonus and a pay increase categorized as a COLA increase, which it is not.
Manager Stilwell indicated that the non-bargaining employees were receiving the same 1.5% increase as the union employees receive per the union contracts. The union employees receive a cost of living and a step increase.
Councilmember Montgomery added that the non-bargaining employees did not receive step increases. They and the union employees receive a 1.5% increase as directed by union contract and for the non-bargaining employees as a means to maintain parity. The union employees also receive automatic step increases, unless at the stop of their range. Non-bargaining employees have no opportunity to receive step increases, but can receive a merit/bonus based on their performance.
As no one appeared to speak, Mayor Hartfield closed the Public Hearing for Ordinance No. 14-2015 at 9:32pm.
Ordinance No. 12-2015, An Ordinance to Amend Sections 1135.01 and 1169.02 of the Codified Ordinances of the Village of Granville, Ohio Pertaining to Zoning Definitions and Permitted and Conditional Uses in the Institutional District
Vice Mayor Barsky suggested that any further discussion of Ordinance No. 12-2015 should be held until the court ruled on the appeal hearing. The language of the Ordinance needed further clarification.
Councilmember Johnson indicated his interest in looking at expanding the Ordinance from just the Institutional District to all Village zoning districts.
Councilmember O’Keefe asked if there was an urgency to pass this ordinance and if this legislation would have any effect on the results of the court case. Law Director King responded that it would have no direct effect as they were separate issues - one was a legislative issue and the other a legal issue.
Mayor Hartfield expressed concerns about keeping the court case and this Ordinance as separate issues.
Vice Mayor Barsky moved to table the next Public Hearing for Ordinance No. 12-2015 until March 1, 2015 meeting. Second by Councilmember McGowan. Motion passed.
Ordinance No. 13-2015, An Ordinance to Amend Section 1121.01 of the Codified Ordinances of the Village of Granville, Ohio Pertaining to Required Street Widths and Right-of-Way Widths was moved for approval by Councilmember Johnson. Second by Vice Mayor Barsky.
Law Director King indicated that language was changed from the last meeting based on suggestions by Council. Language was restructured to allow for minimums less than Licking County standards. The new language allowed Council to deviate by twenty percent on streets, ways and paths, but maintained standards for sidewalks, water lines, sewer lines, storm lines and lighting were all still subject to the County minimums.
Councilmember Lerner asked the language allowed for variances to deviate from the standards set for just ways and paths, but not sidewalks. Law Director responded in the affirmative.
Law Director King indicated that additional criteria was added to help determine when such a variance could be added. Law Director King indicated that he was unable to add language requiring a ten lot maximum as such language might not survive legal scrutiny. He indicated that he added the language from the Montgomery County codes that had been court tested.
Councilmember O’Keefe asked if knowing the topography of the land when you purchased it would be reason to deny an application. Law Director King responded that such knowledge would not necessarily reject an application. Law Director King indicated that even with these changes, the property owner, who requested that change, may not be able to benefit from the revised code.
Councilmember Johnson confirmed that as the Ordinance was currently written, the Village would now have the ability to consider a variance on only streets, ways and paths. Law Director King responded in the affirmative. He also questioned why the list of design items in Section 1109.05 still included water, sewer and storm lines. Law Director King stated that there still could be a variance to those items based on Village standards, but now could receive a variance for anything less than the County minimums. Councilmember Johnson appreciated the addition of the Montgomery County language as additional criteria, but he felt the language was still vague. Law Director King stated that this language was the best language that he could provide that would protect Council’s legal interests.
Mayor Hartfield asked Mr. Tod Frolking to provide his comments.
Tod Frolking, 605 West Broadway, indicated that after further reading of the proposed Ordinance, he recognized that his request for narrower streets might not be approved as the legislation required the owner to describe substantial injustice and hardship in order to approve a variance. Other parts of the legislation recognize there may be projects where smaller roadways would be advantageous to the Village. The language in these sections seemed to work against each other. The hardships we would be requesting would be environment and esthetic hardships. Mr. Frolking added that the twenty-six foot wide roadways were designed for roadways that permitted street parking. His project intended to restrict parking. Law Director King agreed with Mr. Frolking. The subdivision regulations, versus the zoning code, deal with street widths, rights-of-way and utility placement for the broader community welfare. The reason for the hardship standard was to limit the number of variances because these standards were set up for specific reasons. The hardship criterion was to allow for serious exceptions. If the standard would deprive the property owner of his right to develop his property, that could be cause for a variance. The Frolking project did not need a variance for topographical causes. They were interested in designing a different type of project based on design esthetics and environmental issues.
Councilmember O’Keefe asked if an argument could be made to keep the natural environment intact as an environmental benefit that could be reflective of the rural character of the Village. Law Director King responded that he did not think that would satisfy the hardship standard with a court.
Vice Mayor Barsky commented that the subdivision regulations were designed for developers to control larger types of developments or for larger communities, not necessarily applicable to Granville. Law Director King indicated subdivision regulation language only applied to design standards for any type development within a municipality, not just subdivision developments.
Councilmember Lerner asked if it would be an option to include criteria that worked to maintain the historic continuity in the community and would be better suited to the Village esthetic. Law Director King indicated that Council was not stuck with the hardship criteria.
Councilmember Johnson indicated that a professional, licensed engineer on behalf of the Village advised Council that a twenty-foot wide street could work. He asked if the criteria could include assessments and recommendations by appropriate professionals (fire chief, police chief, and engineer). Councilmember Johnson indicated that he was trying to make the variance approval process as objective as possible. Councilmember Johnson also suggested that the AROD criteria could be added. Law Director King indicated that he would not recommend requiring a recommendation from the engineer as that could be seen as delegating the decision to the engineer, but Council could make the engineer’s recommendation one of the items that should be considered. By moving to a standard looking at the broader community concerns, Council would be removing the hardship standard. He cautioned Council about the law of unintended consequences.
Councilmember Lerner suggested that the hardship portion should not be removed, but the historic criteria added as an “or.”
Mayor Hartfield suggested that Council needed to find a solution to this issue.
Law Director King suggested making the language disjunctive by making it a substantial hardship or using a community policy development based on, in part, the Comprehensive Plan
Councilmember McGowan moved to table Ordinance No. 13-2015 to the December 2, 2015 meeting. Second by Councilmember Johnson. Motion passed.
Ordinance No. 14-2015, An Ordinance to Appropriations for Current Expenses and Other Expenditures of the Village of Granville, State of Ohio, During the Fiscal Year Ending December 31, 2016 was moved for approval by Councilmember Johnson. Second by Councilmember Lerner.
Mayor Hartfield called for a roll call vote to approve Ordinance No. 14-2015: Johnson (yes); Lerner (no); McGowan (yes); Montgomery (yes); O’Keefe (yes); Vice Mayor Barsky (yes) and Mayor Hartfield (yes). Ordinance No. 14-2015 passed 7-0.
Ordinance No. 15-2015, An Ordinance to Add Chapter 181 of the Codified Ordinance of the Village of Granville Regarding Municipal Income Tax was introduced and a hearing date set for December 2, 2015 by Councilmember Johnson. Second by Vice Mayor Barsky.
Mayor Hartfield scheduled a public hearing for Ordinance No. 15-2015 for December 2, 2015.
Ordinance No. 16-2015, An Ordinance to Authorize the Village Manager to Enter into a Lease Agreement with Reader’s Garden for the Lease of a Portion of Village Hall, 141 East Broadway was introduced and a hearing date set for December 2, 2015 by Vice Mayor Barsky. Second by Councilmember Lerner.
Mayor Hartfield scheduled a public hearing for Ordinance No. 16-2015 for December 2, 2015.
Ordinance No. 17-2015, An Ordinance to Amend Ordinance No. 16-2014 Providing for Adjustment of the Annual Budget for the Fiscal Year 2015 and Revising Sums for Operating Expenses was introduced and a hearing date set for December 2, 2015 by Councilmember O’Keefe. Second by Vice Mayor Barsky.
Mayor Hartfield indicated that this budget amendment included funding for the North Pearl Street pedestrian crossing.
Vice Mayor Barsky questioned if the lights would be solar powered. Manager Stilwell indicated that the lights would be solar powered, activated by push buttons and movable. The intent was to work with the Granville School District, Denison and Granville Township on ways to improve visibility from Cedar Street to New Burg Street. A variety of factors would be reviewed including trees, a flashing light system, traffic speed, a possible extension of the pathway and a review of the configuration of the current intersection.
Councilmember O’Keefe asked the status of reducing the speed limit. The state would request all the information that needed to be considered including traffic counts, speed limits, etc.
Mayor Hartfield scheduled a public hearing for Ordinance No. 17-2015 for December 2, 2015.
Resolution No. 2015-49, A Resolution of Appreciation to Dr. Constance Barsky for Service on Village Council and Service to the People of the Village of Granville was introduced and moved for approval by Councilmember O’Keefe. Second by Councilmember Lerner.
Mayor Hartfield read the resolution recognizing the contributions made by Vice Mayor Barsky. Mayor Hartfield indicated that this meeting was Vice Mayor Barsky’s last. Her presence on Council would be missed. Her thorough, detailed review of materials and forward thinking has had an important impact on the community.
Vice Mayor Barsky said that it was a pleasure to serve the community and with this Council.
Mayor Hartfield called for a vote to approve Resolution No. 2015-49. Motion carried. Resolution No. 2015-49 was adopted.
Resolution No. 2015-50, A Resolution to Establish the Annual Compensation Adjustment for Non-Bargaining Employees for Fiscal Year 2016 was introduced and moved for approval by Vice Mayor Barsky. Second by Councilmember O’Keefe.
Vice Mayor Barsky asked if this resolution was for just the non-bargaining employees. Mayor Hartfield responded in the affirmative.
Councilmember Johnson confirmed that the 1.5% pay increase would increase the pay grade level for every employee, even those at the top of the range. Manager Stilwell responded in the affirmative. The Economic, Finance and Personnel Committee approved the design, COLA increases and merit/bonus amounts.
Councilmember Montgomery commented that the adjustments were a fair amount and similar to amounts provided to staff in the past. These bonuses/merit increases were good employee incentive compensation. He expressed his support for the resolution.
Mayor Hartfield called for a vote to approve Resolution No. 2015-50. Motion carried. Resolution No. 2015-50 was adopted.
REVIEW OF MINUTES
Regular Council Meeting Minutes of November 4, 2015
Councilmember Johnson made a motion to approve the November 4, 2015 Council meeting minutes as amended. Second by Councilmember McGowan. Motion carried.
MAYOR'S REPORT – October
The Mayor's report for the month of October was presented for review.
Councilmember Johnson moved to accept the October Mayor’s Report. Second by Councilmember McGowan. Motion carried.
Mayor Hartfield instructed the report be filed with the Clerk. A copy of the report will be included as part of these minutes.
MANAGER'S REPORT – October
The Manager's Report for the month of October was presented for review.
Vice Mayor Barsky questioned if staff’s meeting with Metropolitan Partners and Middleton was satisfactory. Manager Stilwell indicated that the outstanding issues connected to both parties were moving forward. A couple of their permits, specifically pavement completion, expired. Staff was working with them to make all necessary adjustments.
Councilmember O’Keefe asked if staff would remove the leaves along the wall in front of Denison on Burg Street. Manager Stilwell indicated that the service department would extend the vacuum as far as it reaches to clear the sidewalk.
Councilmember Montgomery moved to accept the October Manager’s Report. Second by Councilmember McGowan. Motion carried.
Mayor Hartfield instructed the report be filed with the Clerk. A copy of the report will be included as part of these minutes.
Granville Community Foundation – (Montgomery)
Councilmember Montgomery reported that the 2016 grant application would soon be on the Foundation’s website at granvillefoundation.org.
Granville Recreation District – (McGowan)
Planning Commission – (Johnson & O’Keefe)
Granville Arts Commission – (O’Keefe)
Councilmember O’Keefe reported that Maggie Sobatika resigned from the Commission. GAC also expressed concern about the closure of the Granville Studio for the Visual Arts. They passed a motion to encourage the preservation of GSVA. Manager Stilwell commented that staff and the Bryn Du Commission met with GSVA. Commission Chair Candi Moore was directed by the Commission to continue the educational art components of GSVA. The Bryn Du Commission would take the lead in negotiating this transition.
Open Space Committee – (O’Keefe)
Tree & Landscape Commission – (Lerner)
Councilmember Lerner reported that the Commission was working on seeking compensation from ODOT regarding the removal of the eighteen trees on the north side of Newark-Granville Road that was in ODOT right-of-way for the Cherry Valley interchange project. Manager Stilwell indicated that after his discussions, ODOT was not interested in remunerating the Village for those trees. Their position was that all vegetation was to be removed in the right-of-way acquired. Their own plans specifically marked an X through vegetation that was to be removed and these trees were not marked with an X. It was certainly within ODOT’s rights to remove these trees. He would share any additional response from ODOT with Council. Future plantings would be planted at the Village’s own risk.
Union Cemetery – (Barsky)
OTHER COUNCIL MATTERS
Mayor Hartfield questioned staff if the Porsche club wanted to change the date they originally requested of July 30, 2016 to July 23, 2016. Manager Stilwell wanted to gauge Council’s interest in continuing to permit the Porsche group to return to the Village. Vice Mayor Barsky asked how the event was received this past year. Councilmember Lerner responded that the event had perfect weather and a much better turn out. Councilmember Montgomery commented that the stepped up traffic control seemed to have improved the event as well as the reduced footprint of the event. Councilmember McGowan commented that a local charity benefited from their event for the past couple of years. Manager Stilwell explained that the hiccup with traffic on East Elm Street was due to a miscommunication among Village staff. Staff would advise the Porsche club that they could return in 2016 using the July 30th date.
Councilmember Montgomery asked if the installation of countdown, pedestrian crosswalk signs at the Lights, Streets/Sidewalks & Utilities Committee on November 6th was discussed. Councilmember O’Keefe responded that they were not discussed, but thought they were a good idea. Councilmember Lerner indicated that the meeting was used to primarily discuss the North Pearl Street pedestrian crossing and how it could be incorporated into the Safe Routes to School program. Councilmember Montgomery asked that the LSSU Committee discuss the issue at their next meeting. Councilmember O’Keefe said that the information was already available. Manager Stilwell indicated that the cost of the installation could be included in the first budget amendment for 2016. Councilmember Montgomery would like to see the signals installed at the Main & Broadway, Prospect & Broadway and Pearl & Broadway intersections.. Manager Stilwell said that the bid was for $34,000 per intersection with four countdown units per intersection. Councilmember McGowan felt that four units per intersection would not be needed, perhaps just two units. Manager Stilwell suggested that the four units per intersection would be the best course of action. Councilmember Lerner asked if the timing of the lights at Prospect & Broadway had changed. Manager Stilwell indicated that the light timing was changed at the end of 2014 from twenty seconds to thirty seconds. Councilmember Lerner also mentioned that a resident requested that the pedestrian mid-East Broadway crosswalk be removed. Manager Stilwell indicated that he had passed that information along to Council for the review, but would not be recommending that change.
OTHER STAFF MATTERS
Manager Stilwell advised Council that the Tree & Landscape Commission recommended replacing the Village median holiday tree in early 2016. A local family expressed willingness to fund the cost of planting a new tree up to $1,000. Councilmember McGowan suggested that Jim Gibson of Timbuk might be able to provide a discount on the cost.
Councilmember O’Keefe asked if the Village fertilized the holiday tree. Manager Stilwell indicated that he would check and report back to Council.
Vice Mayor Barsky moved to enter into Executive Session, pursuant to ORC §121.22(G)(3) “to confer with the Law Director concerning a dispute involving the public body that is the subject of imminent court action.” Second by Councilmember Johnson.
Mayor Hartfield called for a roll call vote: Lerner – yes; Montgomery – yes; O’Keefe – yes; Johnson – yes; Barsky – yes; Hartfield – yes. Motion carried 7-0. Time in: 10:38pm.
Councilmember Lerner moved to return to regular session. Second by Councilmember McGowan.
Mayor Hartfield called for a roll call vote: : Montgomery – yes; O’Keefe – yes; Johnson – yes; Lerner – yes; Barsky – yes; Hartfield – yes. Motion carried 7-0. Time in: 11:31pm.
Council returned to regular session.
Councilmember Montgomery asked Council who would be interested in placing a resolution with a response to Judge Marcelain’s Judgment Entry on the next Council agenda.
Vice Mayor Barsky commented that if the record indicated that Village Council did not have enough information to make a decision on the commercial use aspect of the appeal, she would recommend holding a hearing to give both entities an opportunity to give their input. Councilmember Lerner, Councilmember O’Keefe and Mayor Hartfield agreed.
Mayor Hartfield and Council directed staff to schedule a hearing to address only the commercial use issue raised by Judge Marcelain during the January 6th Council meeting beginning at 7:30pm. Each side will have a limited time to make arguments. Law Director King encouraged both sides to submit their documents to all parties a week ahead of time. The same hearing rules would apply as the previous hearing. A court recorder would be requested.
Ms. Miller asked if Council was concerned about the date of the hearing due to the holidays. Mayor Hartfield responded that both parties have more than a month and a half to prepare.
Councilmember Johnson made a motion to adjourn. Second by Vice Mayor Barsky. Motion carried.