Granville Community Calendar

Council Minutes October 7, 2015

VILLAGE OF GRANVILLE

COUNCIL MINUTES

October 7, 2015

 

CALL TO ORDER (by Mayor Hartfield at 7:30pm) 

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

ROLL CALL 

Those responding to the roll call were Councilmembers Johnson, Lerner, McGowan, Montgomery, O’Keefe, Vice Mayor Barsky, Mayor Hartfield, Manager Stilwell and Law Director King.

APPROVAL OF AGENDA 

Councilmember McGowan moved to approve the agenda.  Second by Vice Mayor Barsky.  Motion passed. 

CITIZENS COMMENTS (7:31pm) 

Dan Rogers, 210 East Maple Street, wanted to address Council regarding comments that were made during the last Council meeting by one of his neighbors.  He stated that his business, Taco Dan’s, was not in violation of eating and drinking on his porch.  He was trying to follow the letter of the law regarding Licking County Health Department codes and the Village code.  He was the only business in town that had his trash picked-up daily.  He had signage posted in his business advising people to not take food or drink outside of his establishment.  If customers did, he was dutiful in advising them to return inside.  He did admit that he struggles with keeping the noise down, but attempts are made to control the level of noise.  His business has many customers and he is very successful.  His business was on a commercially zoned block and should be treated as such.  He attempted to be respectful of his neighbors.  Mr. Rogers felt that his business was watched differently than other businesses being singled out and targeted by the Village.  He made every attempt to follow all laws and rules.  His sole goal was to be a successful business owner.  He did not like to be pushed as he had a limit nor signaled out. 

Barbara Franks, 121 ½ South Prospect Street, advised Council that her neighbor called the police department repeatedly about her property.  Her neighbor called the police department four times in one evening.  Following that evening, Ms. Franks approached her neighbor across the street, Mrs. Westbrook, to apologize for the noise.  Ms. Franks said her neighbor commented that she heard people having fun early on, but did not notice it later in the evening.  Ms. Franks explained that she had one crazy neighbor that caused all of these problems.  He continuously called the police on her and her business.   Ms. Franks added that she recently received a letter from the Village attorney threatening to close down her business again.  This letter was just another exhibit of how the Village harassed and threatened her with the court.   She indicated that her court case was finally going to a jury trial.  Council should be aware of how the Law Director was spending Village monies. This treatment was harassment of her, her property and her business.  She paid her property taxes.  Ms. Franks became very upset and asked the Village to leave her alone.  Leave me alone. 

Councilmember Montgomery asked police Chief Caskey if the police were fed up with receiving multiple calls.  Chief Caskey responded that that the police were not upset with receiving phone calls from concerned citizens.  The police responded on several occasions on our own because the noise level was so high as to be heard at Village Hall. 

Law Director King indicated that he sent a letter to Mr. Rogers and Ms. Franks outlining all of the complaints made, which were taken verbatim from the officer narratives, the police reports and witness statements.  The letter was sent to remind Rogers/Franks of the injunction that was in place and explained that these complaints were in violation of the permanent injunction and the noise ordinance.  If complaints continued to be a problem, the letter outlined the various options the Village had to remedy the violations.  Mr. Rogers was advised that the Village would work with him.  Law Director King commented that he appreciated Mr. Rogers’ acknowledging that noise was an issue and to the extent that he was sincere in willing to address the noise issue, my door was always open. 

Councilmember McGowan asked if there was a policy in Licking County on how close you can smoke to a building entrance.  Mayor Hartfield responded that it may be twenty to twenty-five feet from an entrance. 

Councilmember O’Keefe asked how noise complaints from businesses on Broadway were addressed.  Law Director King explained that there was a recent complaint about loud music coming from Moe’s Bar-b-que.  Officers responded to the complaints and requested that Moe’s close their second floor windows, which they did, and the matter was resolved. Complaints were handled the same as any other complaint. 

Lisa Marie Bazley, 5 Pembroke Lane, asked who was responsible for policing smoking violations in the Village.  Law Director advised he would check as to who enforces smoking violations.  Ms. Bazley indicated that she had read the injunction and disagreed with Law Director King’s interpretation.  She believed that the injunction prohibited Mr. Rogers from serving alcohol and drink on the porch.  People could congregate and smoke on the porch or have drinks on the porch.  She could not see how Mr. Rogers was, in any way, in violation of the injunction.  Law Director King advised that two citations were issued for individuals having open container on the sidewalk.  The issue is not whether alcohol or food could be served on the porch, which it could not, the porch could not be used as a smoking lounge or a place to congregate due to the noise ordinance in a residential neighborhood. 

Councilmember McGowan asked if customers of any of the downtown businesses took alcohol out onto the sidewalk, would the business owners be responsible for those individuals.  Law Director King indicated that such an incident could violate Ohio Liquor laws and the business owner could be held responsible.  Chief Caskey indicated that some local business owners stationed an employee at the door to remind patrons not to leave with an alcoholic beverage. 

Dan Bellman, 310 Summit Street, wanted to address pedestrian safety with Village Council.  He indicated that he had four specific concerns that he hoped Council could address. 

1.  Speed control on North Pearl Street and Summit Street – Mr. Bellman indicated that cars routinely exceed the speed limit on both of these streets especially in the three hundred block of North Pearl Street.  Summit Street was used as a cut through street from North Granger Street to North Pearl Street.

2.    Visibility and notice for the crosswalk located at North Pearl Street and Washington Drive – People traveling through the area may not recognize that crosswalk location as such a pedestrian crossing.  From a visibility aspect, flashing lights at the crosswalk may be a solution. 

3.   Pedestrians in a crosswalk – Most drivers do not seem to know that they have to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk.  Students using the crosswalk at North Pearl Street and Summit Street struggled to cross the street due to heavy traffic.  Mr. Bellman indicated that he did not have a solution for this problem.

4.    Mr. Bellman also asked Council to observe the crosswalk at North Pearl Street and Washing Drive on a Friday night after a football game with students trying to cross the unlighted street.  The existing crosswalk flashers were dark. 

Wendy Hollinger, 444 North Pearl Street, wanted to commend Service Director Hopkins for working with her this past summer to replace the sidewalk in front of her house.  Her sidewalk was to be replaced, but inadvertently was left out of the list for the contractor.  Mr. Hopkins spoke to the contractor and made sure her sidewalk was taken care of as promised.  Additionally, she thanked Village Manager Stilwell and Mr. Hopkins for resolving the issue with the loud, vibrating manhole cover in front of her house.  Following the SR 661 repaving project this summer, the manhole cover vibrated so badly when large semi-trucks drove past that her house shook.  She requested that the Village find a solution and they did.  Thank you so much in resolving these issues. 

Bob Johnson, 218 East Elm Street, indicated that he was part of the group that approached Village Council regarding speed issues on East Elm Street and South Pearl Street.  He wanted to thank Council for the installation of temporary speed bumps.  Traffic has been slowed.  Additionally, the neighborhood also requested that a property maintenance code be put in place.  He was in support of the property maintenance code before Council as it set a high bar for health, safety and welfare issues, which was the group’s original intent.  He was also in favor of licensing landlords in order to better hold them accountable for the upkeep and maintenance on their properties. 

As no one else appeared to speak, Mayor Hartfield closed Citizen Comments at 7:55pm.

PUBLIC HEARING 

Ordinance No. 10-2015, An Ordinance to Establish Chapter 523 Property Maintenance Code of the Codified Ordinances of the Village of Granville, Ohio

William Corban, 44 Waterford Court, commented that the property maintenance code was overkill. The definitions were vague and the rules seemed ambiguous.  Mr. Corban asserted that current state, county and local regulations were sufficient enough to deal with most issues that arise in the Village.  There were very few instances of real blight in the Village. Village problems were not warranting this level of legislation.  This specific legislation did not accurately or precisely address any problems that may exist in the Village.

Steve Mershon, 128 South Main Street, advised Council that a recent state court decision by Judge Lott on September 30, 2015 regarding legislation established by Portsmouth declared it unconstitutional to enter anyone’s premises without a warrant.  The removal of the warrant language from the Village’s legislation may be a fatal omission.  Mr. Mershon indicated that he understood why the language was removed, but Council may want to re-establish that language.

Wendy Hollinger, 444 North Pearl Street, listed many concerns with specific language in the property maintenance ordinance.  She understood the need to ensure that the Village needed to look out for public safety and welfare, but the language in this ordinance was too vague.  It left way too much subjective authority for deciding who and what items were out of compliance to Village staff.  Staff today might be fair and reasonable, but the language would not necessarily protect residents of fair and reasonable treatment by future staff.  Specific items that Ms. Hollinger highlighted were:

  • Questioned the importance of delinquency in property taxes’ relevance in declaring a house as being blighted.  Law Director King advised the definition came from the Ohio Revised Code and was supported by court case history.
  • Using age as one condition of two required to determine that a house was blighted seemed unfair to most downtown Village homes, where most were old.  Law Director King stated that these conditions were set by the Ohio General Assembly.  Council had the ability to delete any of these criteria as they see fit.
  • Remodeling or repairing your home “in a reasonable amount of time” after a disaster seemed too vague. 
  • Questioned what truly constituted a junk vehicle.  A vintage car in a driveway without current tags, should that be a junk vehicle?  Did making repairs to your vehicle make it a junked vehicle?
  • The phrase “offensive to the senses” was very vague and certainly variable from individual to individual.
  • Ms. Hollinger felt that the ability of the maintenance officer to show up at your home with no advance notice of inspection seems invasive.  Persons should be contacted and given a time of the inspection.  Additionally, who would be the person to decide that something was of imminent danger and needed addressed immediately?  Also, one person’s idea of a reasonable amount of time and someone else’s may be vastly different.  All of these requirements were much too vague. Law Director King commented that in practice the resident would receive a letter of violation and given time to make repairs.  Even in emergency situations, the resident would be contacted.  Staff would work with residents and set specific times in consulation with the resident.
  • Exactly what type of penalty would there be for non-compliance of these regulations.  Enforcement penalties should be spelled out.  Law Director King indicated the potential remedies were residents cited into Mayor’s Court or injunctive relief could be sought by the Village.

Ms. Hollinger felt that as a lay person, this document was problematic and did not provide enough specific language explaining the various penalties, processes or requirements. 

Bob Ramsey, 399 North Pearl Street, thanked Council for their work on this issue.  He felt that the property maintenance issue was a question looking for a problem.  There were few concerns in the Village.  He was not sure that residents would maintain their property based on a fear of enforcement.  He thought any issues that existed could be addressed easily based on the current laws.  He commented that he was in support and would rather have something than no guidance. 

Gill Miller, 411 Welsh Hills Road, was in support of the legislation.  As a person who fought to save the Spencer Wright House on Newark-Granville Road, having this legislation might help to save historic homes in the future.  She appreciated Council’s efforts on this important legislation. 

Ordinance No. 11-2015, An Ordinance Authorizing the Village Manager to Grant a General Permit to 133 South Prospect Street, LLC to License the Use of the Village Right-of-Way at 133 South Prospect Street

As no one else appeared to speak, Mayor Hartfield closed the Public Hearing at 8:22pm.

OLD BUSINESS

Ordinance No. 10-2015, An Ordinance to Establish Chapter 523 Property Maintenance Code of the Codified Ordinances of the Village of Granville, Ohio was moved for approval by Councilmember O’Keefe.  Second by Vice Mayor Barsky.

Discussion:

Councilmember Lerner indicated that she had concerns with some specific language in the legislation.  Unlicensed or expired licensed cars in driveways seem to be a harsh consideration as she was told by an officer to move her mistagged vehicles onto her property to prevent her from being cited. Councilmember Lerner stated that it was important to have this type of legislation to help prevent issues that occurred like those with the Spencer Wright House, but this specific legislation may not be what we want.  She recommended starting over with something more narrowly focused that could save historic homes and prevent them from being allowed to go into disrepair.

Councilmember McGowan expressed concerns about passing a specific property maintenance code.  He was in support of developing a neighbor helping neighbor program.  Generally, issues involving homes that needed maintenance were due to issues of finance, illness or elderly owners.  He was very unhappy with the residents who initially came in with pictures of things they did not like about their neighbors’ home and especially with comments that people who cannot keep up their home should move out of town.  That was not the type of community he thought of as Granville.  He was also not ready to vote on this specific ordinance as he was unhappy with much of the language.  He felt the Village might run some risk with litigation with the current language.

Councilmember Montgomery indicated that he was also not supportive of this legislation.  He was concerned that the document gave Village staff authority that required restraint and vague direction, which future staffs might not understand.  Many of the homes that residents expressed concerns about earlier this year were now being renovated.  Most small towns did not have property maintenance codes.  He felt this current legislation put residents in a tenuous position.  He had faith that residents generally wanted to keep their properties attractive.  He questioned what issues current state laws addressed.  The property owners of the Spencer Wright House on Newark-Granville Road wanted to demolish that house and indicated that they were not interested in maintaining it, but the Village stopped that demolition.  He wondered how a property maintenance code would have helped that situation.  Law Director King advised that state law regulated only nuisance and public safety issues.  Vice Mayor Barsky asked if state law could have helped with the Spencer Wright House earlier.  Law Director King responded that state law would be used after the condition of the house was at a very severe level of disrepair.  Regarding demolition requests, Law Director King commented that a Village cannot make someone maintain a home due to private property rights.  These types of situations were attempts by the state to legislate private property issues.  Councilmember Montgomery stated he did not think that it was good policy to pass legislation or cause concern for residents to address an issue that would only address a few homes.

Councilmember Johnson expressed similar concerns.  He stated that even with such a code in place, there was no clear path that would force a property owner to make repairs or rectify problems.  He felt the process of taking public comment about this legislation was good.  Village Council received good, insightful comments from the citizenry.  However, this legislation did not get the Village to where we need to be.  He was in support of the neighbor helping neighbor program proposed by Councilmember McGowan.  He was supportive as a private individual and would like to see the Village put energy into facilitating such as program.  He felt that this legislation would not prevent another Shady Side (Spencer Wright House).  He was not sure that any practical measures could be put into place.  Law Director King indicated that measures could certainly be put into place with high standards set that could address those types of issues.  But that standard may be higher than Council would be able to support.  Council had the ability to set a standard on a wide spectrum of requirements.  The proposed document was put together in a manner to address the concerns that Council had stipulated.  He was not married to any of these requirements.  His task was to make sure that whatever requirements were on Council’s spectrum was included. 

Councilmember O’Keefe commented that the standard for determining blight of age should be removed as one or two criteria.  Almost all downtown Village homes would meet that standard.  She also stated that the description of what constituted blight was vague and unclear.  This code legislation also left a lot of judgement calls to the property maintenance officer, which could cause issues with other staff in the future.  Councilmember O’Keefe also expressed concern about the possibility of this legislation pitting neighbor against neighbor.  She felt that municipalities should have some rights to save historic homes.  So many historic homes had been lost to private property owner’s rights.  Councilmember O’Keefe agreed with Councilmember Johnson that the process of working through this legislation with community input was wonderful.  This decision was a tough one trying to protect the health, safety and welfare of the community. She appreciated the comments and participation by all of the community members.  Councilmember O’Keefe asked if the suggestion of licensing property owners was possible.  Law Director King commented that licensing one specific group was not legal to select one type of property owner only to license. 

Vice Mayor Barsky commented that the community really did not need this particular legislation.  She was very much in support of a neighbor helping neighbor program to help move the community forward and address any issues with a community-based effort.  A program that was effective to show everyone in the community that the people of Granville care about their community.  She would be in support of staff creating a one or two page document to address just the issues of blight and negligence.  Law Director King commented that he could provide a different type of legislation based on direction provided by Council. 

Mayor Hartfield stated that there was a definite need for this type of legislation.  The Village needed to be able to address issues like a six foot hole in a resident’s backyard, the deterioration of historic homes or homes/apartments where the columns supporting a porch were crumbling and unstable.  She supported having some type of legislation over not having any legislation.  Mayor Hartfield supported having some type of meaningful legislation in place to address issues that do currently exist that the Village was unable to address. 

Councilmember McGowan moved to Call the Question.  Second by Vice Mayor Barsky.  Mayor Hartfield called for a roll call to Call the Question for Ordinance No. 10-2015:  Johnson (yes); Lerner (yes); McGowan (yes); Montgomery (yes); O’Keefe (yes); Vice Mayor Barsky (yes); Hartfield (yes).  Motion passed 7-0. 

Mayor Hartfield called for a roll call vote to approve Ordinance No. 10-2015:  Lerner (no); McGowan (no); Montgomery (no); O’Keefe (no); Johnson (no); Vice Mayor Barsky (no) and Mayor Hartfield (v).  Ordinance No. 10-2015 failed 0-7. 

Mayor Hartfield commented that it was important legislation that Council had to consider.  Council was tasked with understanding the needs to a resident living next door to a property with a six foot hole in the backyard and the resident who was elderly or facing financial difficulties and could no longer maintain their property.  It is the Village’s job to represent these people and try to do something.

Vice Mayor Barsky added that there was a difference in living in a township and a Village.  When you live in the Village, you have to give up some of your rights because you have neighbors that are closed to you.  Township residents had the option to do pretty much what they want on their land with three to five acre lots.  Village residents need to take responsibility for their neighbors and that could not be legislated.  That is what communities were built on with stated responsibilities.

Councilmember McGowan left the meeting at 9:13pm.

Ordinance No. 11-2015, An Ordinance Authorizing the Village Manager to Grant a General Permit to 133 South Prospect Street, LLC to License the Use of the Village Right-of-Way at 133 South Prospect Street moved for approval by Councilmember Johnson.  Second by Councilmember Lerner.

Discussion:

Councilmember Montgomery asked if the wall would be in the same location.  Mayor Hartfield said the existing brick wall would be replaced with a sandstone retaining wall. 

Mayor Hartfield called for a roll call vote to approve Ordinance No. 11-2015:  McGowan (yes); Montgomery (yes); O’Keefe (yes); Johnson (yes); Lerner (yes); Vice Mayor Barsky (yes) and Mayor Hartfield (yes).  Ordinance No. 11-2015 was approved 6-0. 

NEW BUSINESS    

Resolution No. 2015-48, A Resolution to Establish the Time and Place of a Public Hearing for the 2016 Municipal Budget as Proposed by the Village Manager was introduced and moved for approval by Councilmember Johnson..  Second by Vice Mayor Barsky.

No discussion

Mayor Hartfield called for a vote to approve Resolution No. 2015-48.  Motion carried.  Resolution No. 2015-48 was adopted. 

REVIEW OF MINUTES

Regular Council Meeting Minutes of September 16, 2015 

Councilmember O’Keefe made a motion to approve the September 16, 2015 regular Council meeting minutes.  Second by Vice Mayor Barsky.   Motion carried. 

COMMITTEE REPORTS   

Granville Community Foundation – (Montgomery)

No report. 

Granville Recreation District – (McGowan)

No report.

Planning Commission – (Johnson & O’Keefe)

Councilmember O’Keefe reported that an application to replat a property to provide common access to a driveway on South Pearl Street and East Elm Street passed.  Replacement windows were approved for Day y Noche.   Manager Stilwell advised the Commission that an appreciation event would be taking place.  Manager Stilwell advised that a Volunteer Reception would be held on Thursday, October 22nd to recognize and thank all Village volunteers such as the Planning Commission.

Granville Arts Commission – (O’Keefe)

No report. 

Open Space Committee – (O’Keefe)

No report.

Tree & Landscape Commission – (Lerner)

Councilmember Lerner reported that the Commission was working to replace the large pine tree in the West Broadway median.  The Commission planned to make a recommendation and bring it to Council suggesting to replace the tree in 2016.  Many people have offered to bear the cost of that replacement tree.

Union Cemetery – (Barsky)

No report.

OTHER COUNCIL MATTERS

Mayor Hartfield thanked Clerk Prasher for her efforts in replacing the windows in Village Hall.  The windows have a nice architectural element and provide warmth and feature to the building.  Thank you Clerk Prasher. 

Councilmember Montgomery appreciated Mr. Bellman’s comments about the pedestrian crossing on North Pearl Street.  He suggested that a communitywide effort begin to improve that crossing that would include the Village, Denison University and the Granville School District. Manager Stilwell said that the Village was waiting for the final police report in order to determine what effective measures could be taken to make improvements to that crossing.  The Village has secured a cost estimate for a traffic study and hoped to include Denison and the School District in ascertaining any improvements that would need to be made.  Councilmember O’Keefe asked if an additional sign could be placed indicated that vehicles must stop for pedestrian traffic.  Manager Stilwell indicated that the Village would work with the traffic engineer to find an effective and meaningful solution. 

Councilmember Lerner advised that she would not be in attendance at the October 21, 2015 Council meeting.

OTHER STAFF MATTERS

Manager Stilwell advised that the search for a new Planning Director was due to close on Friday, October 9th.  As there were few applications to date, he would be extending the application deadline until October 23rd.

ADJOURNMENT (9:25pm)

Councilmember Johnson made a motion to adjourn.  Second by Councilmember O’Keefe.  Motion carried.  

        

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