MOUNT VERNON — Mount Vernon City Council set a timetable for early December to have a third and final reading on a stormwater utility, though the councilmember who set it may not be there to vote.
Council held its first committee meeting Monday to go over a draft for the utility, setting up three more meetings for discussion and a public hearing.
The schedule was set by Councilmember Chris Menapace, who also announced that he could be resigning from the council by the end of the month. Menapace said his house in The Landings Subdivision is up for sale, and has a likely buyer.
“I could play the game, (stay) registered as a voter, sleep one night a week here,” Menapace said after the meeting. “I don’t feel that would be right.”
Menapace said he has planned to move to Coshocton County for a while, and his children have been enrolled in school there.
As to the stormwater utility, Menapace suggested committee meetings for Oct. 14 and Oct. 28, with a first reading on the utility Oct. 28. A public hearing will follow Nov. 12, with a second reading, then another committee meeting for Nov. 25 with third reading.
The final meeting may be postponed to the first council meeting of December to fit Councilmember Sam Barone’s schedule.
Discussion Monday on the stormwater utility began with each member of council identifying their concerns with certain pieces of the draft legislation. Barone started, and his concerns led to a half-hour discussion on how subdivisions will fund private stormwater systems.
Barone suggested language be struck indicating that only those in a subdivision who benefited from the stormwater system be required to pay for maintenance of the system. Barone said the term “benefit” would create too much ambiguity, and said all units in a subdivision should contribute to the stormwater system.
“We want these subdivisions to be dealt with as one unit,” Barone said.
City Law Director Rob Broeren agreed on the same grounds, but Menapace said he felt it should be left in because it allows residents to question if they are benefiting. Councilmember Nancy Vail also said she felt it should be left in, and also questioned why, if subdivisions are paying for their private system, should they also have to pay for the city’s stormwater infrastructure.
Barone’s other concerns involved definitions.
The stormwater utility would charge residential customers a set monthly fee, previously proposed at $6, as well as a calculated fee for commercial and industrial water users. The money will go to the city’s stormwater infrastructure.
While all members of the council said they have concerns — many of them the same as those expressed by Barone — the committee meeting ended before all could be heard. Those concerns will be heard at later committee meetings.
In other business, Barone reported that discussions with developer Joel Mazza for a Community Reinvestment Area (CRA) for the old middle school property on Mulberry Street indicate that Mazza wants a 15-year, 100 percent tax abatement. Council had been pushing for 10 years.
The CRA is part of a package sought by Mazza in his plans to demolish the school and build apartments on the site. The CRA would grant the tax abatements on the value of the new apartments.
Under a 100 percent abatement, the city and schools would see no new tax money on the buildings for the 15 years.
Mayor Richard Mavis said he backs Mazza’s request, and said he does not think it an unusual incentive for development on the scale that Mazza is proposing.
After several members of the city council said they would like to see another CRA agreement with fewer years, Barone asked that they forward their comments to him, and that they would be forwarded on to city administrators.
In the end, it will be up to the council to approve the CRA.
Council further approved a request by Vail to amend existing city ordinances regarding residences in the general business district. Lacie Blankenhorn, development services manager with the city engineer’s office, said the change will allow conditional use, as approved, for residential development in an area zoned for business.
She said that she has had to deny several requests recently for residential, though conditional use has been granted in the past for several subdivisions. The amendment does not affect second-story apartments in storefronts, as those are already allowed by the city, Blankenhorn said.
Council further granted a request by City Engineer Brian Ball to transfer their approval for an application for an Ohio Public Works Commission grant from the South Main Street/Columbus Road intersection project to the North Main Street/Chestnut Street intersection project.
The North Main/Chestnut project has most of its engineering complete, Ball said, and would, therefore, score higher in the application than the South Main project.
Ball said the city will try to do the South Main project next year using city funds.
The North Main/Chestnut project will round the intersection corners to make it easier for truck traffic to turn. Currently, trucks turning north are going over the sidewalk, Ball said.
Tom Hinger finally got his award plaque as a city volunteer of the year Monday. Hinger was unable to attend a ceremony where three others were honored at the September First Friday event.
Hinger was honored for his coordinating an adult coed softball league for eight years, which has 22 teams and 300 players.
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