Swanton Council OKs first reading of DORA legislation

By Drew Stambaugh - [email protected]

Swanton Village Council last week approved the first of three readings required for creation of a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA).

Before the initial reading was passed on Monday, Oct. 10, Councilman Derek Kania suggested not voting until the next Council meeting.

“I would like to maybe push this off a bit and have further discussion on this if that’s possible,” he said. “With regards to things that were brought up I can’t in good conscious have the public in here to talk about their issues, pros, and cons and then go into a vote that sets in motion potential denial or acception.”

Council ultimately moved forward with the vote on the first reading which passed with four votes in favor. Kania and Dianne Westhoven abstained from voting.

The requirement of three readings is designed to give the public plenty of time to voice their opinion on the matter, according to Village Solicitor Kent Murphree.

Prior to the regular Council meeting a public hearing was held on the proposed DORA. Council heard from a few against the currently proposed DORA and a few in favor.

Kenny Garland of Toledo, a Swanton grad and Swanton Baptist Church pastor was the first to speak against.

“I think, number one, I’m worried about the example that we’re setting for the children,” he said. “Open container is typically trying to… normalize drinking and try to let the kids know that it’s ok, but there’s another side to that.”

He added that he’s not opposed to Hub’s and Benfield Wines having an area outside, but is concerned about crossing over the railroad tracks.

Pam Moore, owner of Club Salon, said she isn’t opposed to a DORA, but thinks it is too big to start with. She also expressed concern about people crossing over the tracks.

“I hope this Council really thinks about it in depth,” she said. “Think of 100 trains a day. Start out small and then let it grow.”

Julia Benfield of Benfield Wines and Mike Westmeyer of Hub’s were among those that spoke in favor of the DORA.

“I think a DORA would be a good thing for the community and businesses downtown,” Westmeyer said. “It should bring other people down to see what Swanton has to offer.

“Without us doing something like this, we’re never going to grow and Swanton needs to grow.”

Benfield answered some concerns about the DORA and stressed that it must be reviewed every five years, but can be reviewed as often as Council would like.

The proposed site of the DORA is mostly along Main Street from St. Clair St. to near Church Street. It would also extend east down Zeiter Way and Chestnut Street.

The full DORA proposal, including a map, is available on the Village of Swanton website under pending legislation.

Also at the meeting, Administrator Shannon Shulters reported that the water tower will be repainted next summer or fall. There are currently three designs being looked at.

Shulters also gave project updates.

The installation of the new playground at Memorial Park should start by the end of the month. Old playground equipment has been removed.

She told Council that the sewer main break on S. Main Street was the result for Camtech’s jet rod getting stuck in the pipe. Camtech’s work was part of the Project 3, 11, and 12 sewer separation project.

Shulters said they are currently working on who will pay for the required repairs, which are estimated to cost $11,000 for the initial repair and $7,000 for repaving.

The administrator also said that they should know next month if state funding assistance was approved for the Munson Road repair project and Project 3, 11, and 12 sewer separation.

By Drew Stambaugh

[email protected]