CENTERBURG — Village council members turned their attention to South Hartford Avenue, once again introducing legislation to eliminate parking on the west side from Church Street south to the end of the existing curb area.
Eliminating parking in that area was initially included with other changes introduced last December but was withdrawn prior to council adopting parking changes in February.
Safety concerns prompted the village’s safety committee to recommend eliminating the parking. Due to narrow lane widths, it is difficult to accommodate two-way traffic, especially when school buses and large vehicles are involved.
As a result, drivers weave in and out among the parked cars. Councilwoman Saundra Dove noted drivers do not know who has the right-of-way in such situations and that could lead to potential problems.
Village Administrator Teri Wise said the intent is to accommodate church and special-occasion parking.
“It’s not a close-out where nobody’s going to ever park there again,” she said, citing church events, funerals, and the upcoming community garage sale event sponsored by the Heart of Ohio Business Association as examples of special occasions where parking could be permitted.
“If it’s available to get concessions … that’s totally doable,” Councilman Rusty Griffith said in support of the ordinance.
Referencing the safety issue with large trucks, Mayor Greg Sands said eliminating west-side parking “makes it a safer place, realizing that there are times we will have to make exceptions.”
Council members also discussed the options of having two-hour parking on that stretch of roadway or posting signs stating “Parking by permit only.”
Village solicitor Josh Plieninger said having parking by permit only would be an administrative nightmare in terms of deciding who does or does not get a permit.
“It’s either for safety or it’s not,” he said of the proposed parking change. “Having a sign saying you can’t park here unless you have a permit seems odd to me.”
He suggested three options:
•Eliminate parking completely
•Allow parking during certain times
•Allow parking for a specific time limit
Council also gave a first reading to an ordinance establishing regulations for waste collection.
The village does not regulate garbage and waste collection, and haulers are not required to register with the village. The ordinance requires haulers to pay an annual registration fee of $100 and carry insurance of at least $1 million.
Additionally, trucks must be fully enclosed, leak-proof, and equipped with tight covers for transporting refuse. No open trucks will be permitted except in the case of a temporary emergency.
Trucks must also carry the name, address, and telephone number of the hauler.
“This is one thing needed to get ready for Intel growth,” Pleininger said, adding that it is a good way to make sure reputable companies are serving the village and residents.
Solicitor Kyle Stroh called it “fantastic legislation,” noting that it will also help determine how many trucks are on village roads.
Council adopted legislation amending the village’s planning and zoning code. No one attended the public hearing held prior to the vote, nor did anyone attend the general hearing held on May 15.
Plieninger noted the final version includes regulations on how heavy equipment such as skid loaders should be parked.
The previous code allowed Realtors to place signs in right-of-ways; the adopted code does not. Councilman Dave Beck suggested Realtors be notified of the change.
The new code becomes effective July 5.
Council members took the following additional actions:
•Gave the first reading to an ordinance creating a vacant property registry
•Gave second readings to legislation relating to the 2024 budget and allocating 25% of the real estate and municipal income tax to the street fund
•Waived the three readings and honored a new employee’s sick leave from his previous employer
•Approved the purchase of a Ranger dual cab truck for $39,172 to be used as a “commuter truck” for village employees rather than having them use their own vehicle and track mileage. The money will come from the general and sewer funds.
•Held an executive session to discuss personnel and real estate
•Agreed to hold off on contributing to a new playground at Memorial Park until they hear how much Hilliar Township trustees will contribute
VA Wise reported that she is rotating two new hires between the street and wastewater departments so that they gain experience in the wastewater treatment plant. The current wastewater operator is slated to retire in three years.
The EPA requires those interested in becoming a wastewater operator to pass a test with a score of 70 or higher. They then become an operator-in-training under a certified operator and must have 12 months of hands-on working experience in the plant.
A level 2 operator must pass a second exam at 70% or above and have 36 months of working experience. Hours spent in the wastewater treatment plant count toward the 12 and 36 months.
“Wastewater operators are very hard to come by, especially when you get to a level 2 or 3,” she told council. “I think it is very important to control our destiny. It’s important to have a succession plan, and we have somebody in line for that.”
•The village has received six tons of pothole patching material and expects to need three more for the season. Wise said the material comes as Mid Ohio Paving does larger jobs and has material left; three tons is too small for a company to fill as a standalone order. She anticipates receiving it in the next week.
•Wise created a map showing the number of septic systems located in the village but not hooked up to the village’s system or who are hooked up but not paying. There are about 80 thus far.
•Workers are numbering manhole covers and creating a log to track problems for future reference.
•The village is working to get the bid package ready for South Hartford Phase 3 work. The village received a grant for $150,000 but the state has not yet released the money. Total project cost is $240,000. The village has a $40,000 local match and will take out a $50,000 loan for the remainder.
•Carpenter Marty finished gathering data for the traffic study between Preston Street west to the county line. The company anticipates presenting the results and recommendations at council’s July meeting.
Fiscal Officer Shawna Humes said the village’s IT company recommends cybersecurity insurance of $1 million with a $10,000 deductible at a cost of $1,945 a year. The village currently pays $774 for a $250,000 policy with $25,000 deductible.
Regional Planning Commission representative Councilman Greg Myers reported that lot splits are down. Plans continue for the industrial solar project in the Sharp Road area. Financial aid is available for income-eligible property owners who need to replace or repair their failing septic system. RPC approved the recommendation to rezone 50 acres on Wooster Road to M-2 manufacturing.
Regarding economic development, Mayor Sands reported that village growth due to Intel is secondary to Mount Vernon and Fredericktown’s projected growth. He said the “strong suggestion” to the village is to “get our ducks in a row as far as available water and sewer and earmark where we want it to go.”
Referencing a master plan from years ago, he said “it would be to our advantage to reconvene those conversations as soon as possible.” He noted that Heartland Commerce Park in Mount Vernon signed its fourth tenant and space in HCP might be consumed within five years. If that happens, the village needs to be in position to act.