During a bustling session of Wauseon City Council on Monday, the members discussed sidewalk installation and designated a city park as dog-friendly.
The meeting opened with a public hearing regarding a proposal to rezone a 7.4-acre parcel on Ottokee Street, from B-2 Highway Service District to B-4 Community Mixed Use district. The change would allow the construction of a residential/pole barn facility that would also be used for law enforcement canine training.
The sole citizen attending the hearing, Mike Murry of Whalen Realty and Auction of Wauseon, said he is involved in the transfer of property. Murry supported the rezoning proposal, saying the property conforms to the B4 designation.
“It just seems like the right mix. It would be nice to see more of that up and down Ottokee Street,” he said.
City resident April Petz addressed the council on an ongoing proposal to install sidewalks on Leggett Street from Shoop Avenue to Wauseon Primary School.
Petz lives in a subdivision across from the school, and said many motorists ignore the 35 mile per hour speed limit on that quarter-mile section of Leggett Street. She said that poses a hazard for nearby residents, and recounted how her teenage daughter was nearly hit by a car this month while bicycling home from Shoop Avenue.
“It’s only a quarter of a mile strip, but the way the cars don’t get over, the way they’re coming in and out of town – they’re just not paying attention, and it’s just becoming more and more of a safety risk. So we’re hoping that that sidewalk plan is on the (city’s) list to get done,” she said.
A larger number of children are in her neighborhood than in years past, and they must cut across neighbors’ property to avoid the busy street, Petz told council members.
“It’s really restricted a lot of things within our neighborhood,” she said.
Mayor Kathy Huner told Petz she has obtained two quotes for sidewalk installation cost in that area, but said the Fulton County Health Center plans eventual development there. Huner said under those circumstances the city is hesitant to install sidewalks that would have to be removed later under the hospital’s plans.
She called on the council’s Building and Grounds Committee to coordinate with hospital officials.
In the meantime, the city police department can increase enforcement of the speed limit, said Assistant Police Chief Bill McConnell, who attended the meeting for Chief Keith Torbet.
In other business, the council passed on emergency an ordinance providing for the sale of $920,000 of notes to issue bonds to install a new city water line and construct a water treatment building and lagoon. The revenue will also cover additional treatment tanks, a high-service pump, more piping, and other improvements to the city waterworks system. This is a reissuance. The ordinance takes effect immediately.
Council members also approved a Finance Committee recommendation to increase the dollar amount of low-level city expenditures that are allowed without department authorization. Committee member Jon Schamp requested the longtime $1,000 limit be raised to $2,500. He also suggested raising the limit for purchases over $2,000 that are not specifically listed in the city budget to $5,000 without authorization.
“Just based on the increases in cost of living, we thought that request to expand the limitations for expenditures was a good idea,” Schamp said.
Additionally, the council approved the committee’s recommendation to increase fixed asset reporting from $1,000 to $5,000, and insurance reporting from $500 to $1,000.
Schamp said the committee is contemplating the replacement of Spectrum with R-Tech as the Internet provider for the city administration building. He said research by Finance Director Jamie Giguere shows R-Tech can provide five times the Internet speed at the same price.
He said the city will allow Spectrum the opportunity to offer comparable service before deciding on a change.
Council members unanimously approved a Park Board recommendation to designate Homecoming Park dog-friendly. Provisions include keeping dogs on a leash and away from playground areas. Board member Scott Stiriz said dog owners will be responsible for picking up their pets’ waste; the city will provide several bag dispensers in the park.
However, Law Director Tom McWatters III said first the city’s ordinance prohibiting dogs in parks must be amended.
Stiriz told the council the board considered a fenced-in area where dogs could run loose, but decided against it to avoid fights among the animals.
He also reported that Bruce Ernst Asphalt of Wauseon has nearly completed its cold process work in Dorothy B. Biddle Park. He said the soccer field parking lot remains to be finished.
Construction on an open-air pavilion in the park has begun and should be completed in about two weeks, he said.
Stiriz also discussed a request by the Congregational United Church of Christ on Elm Street to host adult-supervised family movie nights each Saturday this summer in North Park. He said the board will permit one movie night, then determine whether more will follow.
In department reports:
• Assistant Police Chief Bill McConnell said the department lauded an ordinance passed Jan. 1 to allow golf carts, utility task vehicles, and mini trucks on city streets. About 15 of the small vehicles have been registered, six of which are city vehicles.
“We’ve had no incidents in any of these regards, so I think the ordinance passed has been a success so far,” McConnell said.
• A report submitted by Public Service Director Dennis Richardson said bids for street paving open July 24. The project is mandated for completion in September.
The report said the Maumee Valley Planning Organization is preparing a bid packet for Americans With Disabilities Act-compliant ramps to be placed downtown. It also said a community pool project kick-off meeting was held July 13 at the Reighard Park site.
And John Arps has been appointed the city’s new Public Works superintendent.
• Finance Director Jamie Giguere said June income tax revenue increased almost seven percent from the same time last year.
Before the meeting closed, Councilor Shane Chamberlin noted that some property owners are not regularly mowing their lawns, and residents have expressed concern that complaints to the city go unanswered. He said the related city ordinance isn’t being enforced as strongly since the city lost its code administrator.
“There’s other folks that have brought concerns to my attention about code issues, and they’re feeling burdened by the fact that they have to continue to bring the issues to the attention of the city repeatedly,” Chamberlin said. He said the complainants are concerned about “ramifications about being the complainant on a continuous basis.”
Huner said after the city validates a complaint a letter requesting compliance is mailed to the property owner. She said if the owner doesn’t comply within a given period of time a city worker will mow the grass and the cost is assessed to the owner’s taxes.
City Council also approved:
• Unanimously, the first reading of an ordinance to amend Codified Ordinance Chapter 1117, the establishment of districts and maps, and amending the official zoning map.
• By a 5-1 vote, the third reading of an ordinance amending Section 1114 of the city’s codified ordinances to include a new section titled, “Medical Marijuana Cultivators, Processors, and Retail Dispensaries.” It will take effect in 30 days. Councilor Scott Stiriz cast the negative vote.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.