VILLAGE OF GRANVILLE
September 2, 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, Mayor Hartfield, Manager Stilwell and Law Director King.
Councilmember McGowan made a motion to excuse Vice Mayor Barsky from the meeting. Second by Councilmember Lerner. Motion passed.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Councilmember McGowan moved to approve the agenda. Second by Councilmember O’Keefe. Motion passed.
CITIZENS COMMENTS (7:31pm)
As no one appeared to speak, Mayor Hartfield closed Citizen Comments at 7:32pm.
Ordinance No. 10-2015, An Ordinance to Establish Chapter 523 Property Maintenance Code of the Codified Ordinances of the Village of Granville, Ohio
Dan Rogers, 210 East Maple Street, commented to Council that this legislation was garbage and a waste of time. Council should stop hammering people. The Village did not need all of these rules. This process was just a waste of time and money.
Laura Frame, 133 South Pearl Street, expressed her support for this legislation. She and her neighbors had voiced concerns about properties in her neighborhood earlier in the year to Council. When residents do not maintain their homes, it was the duty of the Village to ensure that these residents with peeling paint and falling down porches be required to keep the beauty and historical nature of the community intact. Ms. Frame asked that Council pass this legislation to provide the Village with some leverage to address issues.
Wood Struthers, 326 Cedar Street, articulated his support of this legislation. Mr. Struthers grew up in Granville and decided to invest in a home in the Village for his family. He stated that his home has not been an investment and cost him money. He had a neighbor whose property was not able to be addressed by the current Village code. The neighbor currently had a hazard on his property that could injure his children if they ventured into his yard. The neighbor had an abandoned building foundation. The property was not maintained or mowed. Mr. Struthers indicated that he wanted to sell his property, but the neighboring property had reduced his property values to the point that he cannot sell his house. He offered to and had cut his neighbor’s grass on many occasions without even a thank you from his neighbor. It was not fair that other resident’s negligent of their property was costing him money on his property. This particular property owner served on a Village committee and was responsible for telling residents how to maintain, repair and renovate their property, while his property was permitted to deteriorate. Mr. Struthers had been voicing his concerns for three and one half years to Councilmembers and Village staff. He advised Council that he was moving away from Granville due the lack of enforcement regarding his neighbor’s home. Mr. Struthers hoped that Council would approve this legislation so the Village had the ability to move an issue, like his neighbor, forward to a next level where a remedy could be found.
Bob Johnson, 218 East Elm Street, conveyed his support for the legislation. He was part of the initial group of residents requesting something be done about property maintenance issues. That group’s intent was for the code to deal with public safety issues. He felt this legislation addressed those issues. He still was concerned about absentee property owners. Mr. Johnson indicated his support for a volunteer program that would help residents in need. That would be very useful and he would be willing to volunteer.
Barbara Franks, 122 ½ South Prospect Street, indicated that she had not read the legislation, but thought that the concept of such a good was good as long as it was equally and fairly enforced. There were a limited number of houses that the code would impact. She suggested that Council provide tax incentives to residents whose homes could be at issue to help them make improvements instead of bashing residents.
Bill Wilken, 474 Glyn Tawel Drive, commented that this legislation was not appropriate for the Village of Granville. This legislation could cause legal issues for Granville. The legislation would not really address or solve problems with identified homeowners. Sanctions imposed on a homeowner, whose home needs work, likely would not be able to pay, thus the problem would remain unsolved. The code could be challenged and litigated based on First amendment rights. In the future, this type of legislation could be used to inappropriately subjugate residents. Many neighborhoods had homeowners’ associations that set standards for residents. People do have those concerns, elected to live in areas with HOAs. Mr. Wilken suggested that there were other ways to approach concerns about property maintenance. The Village could issue business licenses or have rules that address absentee landlords.
Ben Rader, 130 West Broadway, stated to Council that evaluating this situation was difficult. People living next door to a home that need maintenance was hard. Legislated rules would force people to do things that were not appropriate either. This legislation might not be the best solution, but something needed to be done. This legislation could also be very subjective. The whole issue was a sticky wicket. Good luck!
Doug Eklof, 907 Newark-Granville Road, advised Council that he was a member of the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission voted not to support the proposed legislation. Mr. Eklof indicated that he voted against the legislation as it could be used to force an unpopular neighbor out of their home. The legislation did not address commercial or rental property. Landlords were not impacted by the effect of run down properties. The Village should develop a code that enforced a higher standard for landlords. Landlords should be licensed.
Sharon Sellitto, 215 South Cherry Street, voiced to Council that the time of the absentee landlord was over. She was upset that the code would allow (for example) a plumber to report to the Village that her bannister was loose and then the Village would barge into her home and require repairs. Ms. Sellitto suggested that the Reynoldsburg Nuisance Abatement code would be a better alternative. Truro Township had a policy to help neighbors make repairs and improvements to their homes. She was not in support of this legislation.
Mayor Hartfield thanked the audience for their participation in tonight’s hearing. She appreciated their thoughtful comments and how emotional this issue was for many people. Village Council had the option of closing the hearing or continuing the hearing to the next Council meeting. If Council chose to close the meeting, Council would discuss the ordinance, possibly amend the ordinance and vote on the ordinance. Village Council’s intent was to address issues that do exist in the community, not to negatively impact residents. Council and staff have not had an ability to address the few problems that do exist in the community. This legislation would provide a base.
Councilmember O’Keefe indicated her support for continuing the public hearing and investigating some of the issues brought forth by the residents.
Councilmember McGowan supported continuing the public hearing. He also was more in support of a neighbor helping neighbor program. This program would promote a positive community spirit. Manager Stilwell advised Council that they received information regarding the proposed Paint the Town program.
Councilmember Lerner wanted to hear additional public comment and encouraged residents to come to the next meeting and voice their opinions.
Councilmember Johnson also wanted to solicit additional public opinion.
Councilmember Montgomery hoped that as many residents in the community could come to the next Council meeting and make their comments known. He was also interested in exploring how the Village could be the conduit to facilitate a community based program to help individuals who may need assistance with maintenance issues.
Councilmember Johnson asked if the Village intended to hire someone to serve as a Zoning Inspector. He also asked if the code had provisions to address interior maintenance issues. Manager Stilwell advised that no additional staff would be hired. Law Director King stated that there were no provisions for interior standards, but if there were a health and safety issued involved, the code did allow the Village to take action. The code was primarily designed to address exterior issues. Mayor Hartfield suggested that any reference to interior issues should be removed from the legislation.
Councilmember Johnson asked the current remedies of property maintenance issues. Law Director King stated that the only authority the code provided the Village currently was to address high weeds. State code allowed the Village to address immediate safety hazards, but no other issues could be addressed. The new code would allow the Village to address neglected properties that could be considered blighted.
Councilmember O’Keefe asked if the current code allowed the Village to address a blighted home. Law Director King commented that in most communities, there were whole areas that were blighted. Granville does not have those types of areas. However, there were specific homes in Granville that the code could address as blighted based on the codes definition. Councilmember O’Keefe asked how the enforcement process would work with the new code. Law Director King responded that staff would communicate with the property owner informally to determine if the issue could or was in the process of be rectified. The next step would be to send a notice to the property owner explaining the problem and what needed to be done to correct the issue. The resident would have opportunities to work with staff or appeal any decisions. The code was drafted with legal provisions to address emergency issues.
Councilmember Montgomery expressed concerns about the possible subjectivity of code enforcement. Law Director King responded that the code was set up to address the big issues and to be used as a guide for Village staff. The implementation of the code was designed to be reasonable and compatible with community standards.
Councilmember Johnson asked if the proposed property maintenance code provided a remedy, a method or a practical way of making a property owner remedy problems. Law Director King stated the Village would work with property owners to find solutions; however, with a recalcitrant property owner, someone who just refuses to fix a problem, the Village could seek an injunction from the courts, but that still would not rectify the problem. Councilmember Johnson added that any property maintenance code enacted still might not get the results that the adjoining property owners may want. The practical implementation of this code could be very difficult.
Law Director King reiterated that the purpose and scope of this property maintenance code was to establish minimum standards necessary to make all structures safe, sanitary, free from fire and health hazard, fit for human habitation, and beneficial to the public welfare; to establish minimum standards governing the maintenance of structures in such condition as will not constitute a blighting, nuisance or deteriorating influence on the surrounding neighborhood; to protect property values; to promote and enhance community sustainability; to fix responsibilities for owners, agents, lessees and occupants of structures with respect to safety, sanitation, repair and maintenance; and to establish procedures for consistent and practical enforcement of these minimum standards. The draft legislation was intended as a tool and a process for the Village to use to try to fix potential problems.
Councilmember McGowan made a motion to continue the Public Hearing on Ordinance No. 09-2015 to the next Council meeting on September 16, 2015. Second by Councilmember Johnson.
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 to be tabled until the September 16, 2015 Council meeting by Councilmember McGowan. Second by Councilmember O’Keefe.
Resolution No. 2015-45, A Resolution Accepting the Amounts and Rates as Determined by the Budget Commission and Authorizing the Necessary Tax Levies and Certifying Them to the County Auditor was introduced and moved for approval by Councilmember O’Keefe. Second by Councilmember McGowan.
Mayor Hartfield commented that this legislation was an annual housekeeping item.
Councilmember McGowan asked if the Village would be receiving the same percentage of revenues. Manager Stilwell responded in the affirmative.
Mayor Hartfield called for a vote to approve Resolution No. 2015-45. Motion carried. Resolution No. 2015-45 was adopted.
Resolution No. 2015-46, A Resolution to Award the Contract for the Purchase of Water Treatment Chemicals to Mid-Ohio Valley Lime, Inc. / Mississippi Lime was introduced and moved for approval by Councilmember McGowan. Second by Councilmember Johnson.
Mayor Hartfield called for a vote to approve Resolution No. 2015-46. Motion carried. Resolution No. 2015-46 was adopted.
REVIEW OF MINUTES
Regular Council Meeting Minutes of August 19, 2015
Councilmember McGowan made a motion to approve the August 19, 2015 regular Council meeting minutes. Second by Councilmember Johnson. Motion carried.
Granville Community Foundation – (Montgomery)
Councilmember Montgomery reported that the Foundation met for their annual retreat on August 22nd to review accomplishments and set goals for the next year.
Granville Recreation District – (McGowan)
Councilmember McGowan reported that the GRD was registering for their fall programs.
Planning Commission – (Johnson & O’Keefe)
Councilmember O’Keefe reported that three applications were approved by the Planning Commission including Village Hall window replacement, landscaping for Middleton House and the residing of a home.
Granville Arts Commission – (O’Keefe)
Open Space Committee – (O’Keefe)
Councilmember O’Keefe reported that the Township Trustees moved to negotiate with the Breymaiers for a conservation easement for 185 acres north of the Village on SR 661.
Tree & Landscape Commission – (Lerner)
Union Cemetery – (Barsky)
OTHER COUNCIL MATTERS
Mayor Hartfield expressed Council and staff’s sympathy to the Denison community regarding the death of Denison student Wendell Jackson. Our hearts were saddened by the loss.
Presentation of the SR 161 Corridor Plan
Planner Terry provided Council with an overview of the Licking County Planning Commission’s corridor plan for SR 161, SR16 and SR 37 from Beech Road to Cherry Valley Road. The Commission was working to define a development pan and a transportation improvement plan.
Mayor Hartfield announced that Planner Alison Terry had submitted her resignation from the Village effective December 2015. She thanked Planner Terry for her grant writing skills, zoning modifications, participation in local development groups and her work with property owners. Planner Terry expressed her appreciation for the opportunity to work in the Village. She enjoyed her time here as it provided a variety of opportunities. She was looking forward to spending more time with her family.
OTHER STAFF MATTERS
Manager Stilwell reported that Clerk Prasher and he met with Republic Services, the low bidder for the refuse hauling bid, and Local Waste Services to determine each company’s ability to service the Village residents. Councilmember O’Keefe asked if the Township was satisfied with Local Waste Services. Mayor Hartfield responded that there was a bumpy transition, but service has been good.
Manager Stilwell advised Council that ODOT would be contracting to haul in 40 to 90K tons of materials for the Cherry Valley interchange project. Staff was concerned about the impact to Cherry Valley Road and Newark-Granville Road. Village staff suggested that ODOT use Westgate Drive as the access point for trucks and materials. ODOT indicated a preference for the Cherry Valley Road and Newark-Granville Road route. Staff asked Council if they would like staff to continue pursuing this issue by meeting with ODOT’s Deputy Director along with the Mayor.
Councilmember Lerner recused herself from the meeting.
Councilmember O’Keefe asked Ms. Lerner, as Director of Welsh Hills School, which route would be safest for her school and students. Ms. Lerner indicated that using Westgate Drive would be safest. That roadway was not visible from the school and would not impact arrival and dismissal times of the school.
Council responded that they were concerned about ODOT’s proposed route citing public safety concerns and requested staff and the Mayor continue to press ODOT to review their decision by meeting with the Deputy Director.
Councilmember McGowan made a motion to adjourn. Second by Councilmember Johnson. Motion carried.