The Van Wert County Courthouse

Tuesday, Jun. 19, 2018

City Council approves property rezoning

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Van Wert City Council approved legislation expanding a Community Reinvestment Area to include recently annexed property known as The Landing at Dickinson Farms and accepting rezoning for that property, as well as an ordinance amending the city income tax ordinance to allow a change in use for the 0.5-percent street income tax.

Local resident Shirley Straley talks about her private campaign to clean up Van Wert during Monday night’s Van Wert City Council meeting. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

First off, City Council listened to a plea from local resident Shirley Straley for help in her individual campaign to keep Van Wert clean. Straley said she often picks up trash and garbage, as well as cigarette butts, that have been thrown out by people in various areas of the city, but also wanted a city contact number she could call when she sees trash spills, but doesn’t have the time to stop and pick the items up.

“I don’t want a medal for what I do, I want help,” Straley said. “To me, our town should be clean.”

Council President Jon Tomlinson said the city doesn’t have workers who do nothing other than pick up trash, and noted that keeping the city clean “was a work in progress” because of budget constraints.

Safety-Service Director Jay Fleming and Mayor Jerry Mazur both noted that individual trash spills could be addressed by calling 419.238.1237.

The mayor commended Mrs. Straley on her efforts to keep the city clean.

On a related note, First Ward Councilman Jeff Agler said he has seen grass clippings in the street from people mowing their lawns, and noted the practice, which is illegal, can also be a hazard to motorcyclists and others who drive through the clippings. Agler also said he felt that Engineering Supervisor Bill Lawson, who also handles code enforcement duties part-time, needs help, stating his belief that the city needs to again have a full-time enforcement officer.

While others said they would like to see that happen, it was noted that the city’s budget cannot support adding the position, especially while several city departments are understaffed because of budget concerns.

The mayor also thanked the Van Wert Peony Festival Committee during his report for its efforts on behalf of the recent Peony Festival held the first weekend in June.

During his report, Fleming said trees along High Street have been removed, except for one tree. He also noted that a Rosalie Drive project to deal with periodic flooding on that street would begin July 15, to maximize use of a piece of expensive piece of equipment the city must rent to that project and other work in the city.

City Auditor Martha Balyeat said the city was doing all right financially through April, with tax collections $152,000 ahead of where they were last year at this time. Balyeat also said the city has taken in $81,000 more than it has spent to date.

Law Director John Hatcher said he was “reimagining” local ordinances dealing with building permits, noting that the current requirements are too restrictive.

He also noted that he looked at way the City of Celina tiers its penalties for tax delinquencies was something he would like to look at, adding that, currently, Van Wert only has one penalty for tax delinquency, which is a misdemeanor of the first degree — the highest misdemeanor charge. Hatcher said he would like to see a first offender subject to a minor misdemeanor, which is what Celina does, which might make it easier to deal with those delinquent on their taxes.

Councilman At-Large Warren Straley, who chairs the Economic Development Committee, noted that the Van Wert Land Reutilization Corporation (land bank) has currently acquired 42 properties, and also noted that the Van Wert Area Economic Development Corporation (VWAEDC) will be having its annual meeting this evening. Those wanting to become a member can attend that meeting tonight, pay the membership fee of $5 and fill out a registration form. The meeting will include a local economic development update. It was also noted that anyone wanting to run for an open seat on the VWAEDC needs to complete a petition and get the required signatures prior to June 25.

Council also approved a then-and-now certificate for $4,137.50.

Council Clerk Tara Fox also had a suggestion that Council look at reducing the number of paper copies of the city’s Codified Ordinances that are printed. Tomlinson said he liked the suggestion, noting that it would save the city money, as well as reduce the need for paper copies in an increasingly “paperless” society.

The next meeting of Van Wert City Council will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 25.

POSTED: 06/12/18 at 8:27 am. FILED UNDER: News