MOUNT VERNON — Mount Vernon City Council approved rezoning of several parcels of land on the city’s southside Monday night following public hearings that offered no input from the public.
The former fire station at the corner of Ames Street and Newark Road was rezoned from Public-semipublic to R-1 residential. The city plans to request authorization from City Council to place the property up for sale by the end of the year.
“R-1 is the most restrictive (zoning),” said Safety-Service Director Joel Daniels. “If the buyer wants new zoning they can request it.”
Eight parcels that were annexed into the city from Clinton Township as part of the project to improve the intersection at Newark Road and Commerce Drive were rezoned from Residential and Agricultural to R-1 Residential by an unanimous vote from council.
According to Mayor Richard Mavis, the properties were brought into the city under Type 2 annexation which allows property owners to have dual residency in both Clinton Township and the city of Mount Vernon, calling the move a “bonanza” for the neighborhood. Residents can vote for both city and township issues and candidates, and also were dropped from the 40 percent surcharge the city charges Clinton Township residents for water services.
Council issued two proclamations. The first to Interchurch Social Services for 50 years of community support through food pantries, financial assistance and social services outreach in Mount Vernon and Knox County. Mavis will present the proclamation Sunday during a special program and dinner marking the half-century mark for the organization.
The second proclamation designates Tuesday, Nov. 27, as #GivingTuesday. As part of a global effort to give back to communities, HopeNow Furniture Bank has announced an effort to raise $25,000 to continue their efforts to provide furniture to families in need. (See page 2A for more information.)
Don Carr was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Board of Zoning Appeals, by a 5-2 vote, following a vote to suspend the rules for three readings. Voting against the appointment were Chris Menapace, at-large representative, and Jeff Gottke, Fourth Ward.
Following the council meeting, both Menapace and Gottke told the News they felt a different personality fit would best suit the board.
According to Mavis, Carr has served as an alternate on BZA. He will be filling the seat vacated by Stephen Rhoades which expires June 26, 2022.
Menapace also voted against the suspension of the rules.
Appropriations and transfers
Two resolutions were approved, both by suspending the three readings rule, to make supplemental appropriations. The measures include just over $63,000 from Ariel Foundation for the creation of Mount Vernon Nazarene University’s forest. Additional funds from Ariel Foundation will pay for tree removal, stump grinding, new planting and maintenance, as well as the renewal of a grant that will purchase and water trees at the request of property owners. A $1,500 grant from the Alcohol and Drug Freedom Center for drug testing was also approved.
Fund transfers were also approved after suspending the three readings rule. Transfers included funds for equipment maintenance for street department, police and EMS, and funds for sludge removal at the wastewater treatment plant.
Sale of ladder truck
Council gave permission to Daniels to advertise for sealed bids for the fire department’s ladder truck. Daniels explained the new truck, acquired in part by a large grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, should arrive in November. As part of the grant agreement, the current truck cannot be sold for use as an emergency response vehicle. The truck has a scrap value of $5,500 so bidding will start at that figure.
Menapace suggested the city maintain ownership of the truck for at least a month after the new truck is put into service to make sure it works as needed.
Randy Cronk, president of the Kokosing Gap Trail board of trustees, addressed council asking them to consider the future of cycling in the city and the economic upswing it could bring to the city. He encouraged council to “encourage the movement of people” with designated bicyle lanes, routes connecting trails with city destination areas.
“An intentionally designed bicycle friendly infrastructure is crucial to the safety of our citizens and can help reduce the volume of auto traffic on our streets,” Cronk said.
In other news:
•Approval was granted on an ordinance to change the title of utility operation foreman and assistant foreman to crew chief and assistant crew chief. A second ordinance increases the wage of the crew chief from $23.04 to $23.08 to maintain the hierarchy in the department. The increase is retroactive to Jan. 1. Daniels explained the city will enter into negotiations with the union in February to discuss wages only. Earlier this year, the city and the unions agreed to a one-year contract for wages as the city was grappling with the loss of revenue from the closing of Siemens.
•Council approved a resolution authorizing advertising for bids, and entering contracts, for supplies for the water and wastewater treatment plants and fuel.
•Council heard a first reading on an ordinance that would regulate sale of tobacco and electronic smoking devices in the city.
•Mavis is looking into changing the hours of downtown parking enforcement from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The proposal would eliminate enforcement on Saturdays.
•Matt Starr, at large representative, reported the city’s recreation board is close to approving a usable policy for naming parks and is working to expand opportunities for pickleball play in the city.
•Menapace suggested the city consider a conversation to franchise garbage collection with the hope of reducing truck traffic in residential neighborhoods.
•Mount Vernon Fire Department will host an open house Wednesday, 200 W. High St., 4-7 p.m.
•Trick or Treat is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 31, from 5:30-7 p.m.
The next council meeting will be Monday, Oct. 22, at 7:30 p.m.