Tim Dennis of Dennis Apartments withdrew his request for both the zoning change application and final plat approval involving the 38 unit rental development on 5.8 acres beside the Pat West Subdivision during a public hearing held on July 21 at 7:00 PM.
Dennis’s withdraw came after a 5-0 vote by Wauseon City Council during their regular meeting to deny the recommendation made by the Planning Commission to accept Dennis’s proposal and amend the zoning ordinance. The unanimous vote was more than enough to satisfy the rule that a super majority vote of 75% would be required to deny the recommendation. However, the vote was only the first of the three required readings necessary to finalize the vote. The subsequent votes would have drawn out the matter for another month. The proposal had kept Pat West residents and residents throughout the city on edge and filing into fill up council chambers to state their concerns with the plan.
Among the concerns was that acceptance of the Planning Commission’s recommendation would set a dangerous precedent that would allow developers to develop other residential areas as well, the potential of lowering property values for the Pat West Subdivision residents, increased traffic, and the safety of children.
Prior to the vote, Council members addressed the once again full room. Council President Heather Kost thanked both Dennis Apartments and opposing residents for the time that they had invested and information they had shared. She noted that every council member had received numerous e-mails, calls, and letters regarding amending the zoning ordinance. She explained that “council members have taken a lot of time with this”, carefully considering all of the information both sides had supplied. “The bottom line is we need to take the emotion out of this,” she commented before making her motion that the recommendation be denied.
Councilor Shane Chamberlin addressed the room, commenting that through all of the fighting that all of the residents of Oldfield Village had been overlooked and often painted in a bad light. He noted that a lot of good also comes from Oldfield Village and that the residents there would also be affected by the proposed changes that would have been an extension of the village. He noted that he would be taking the residents of Oldfield Village into account as well when casting his vote.
The vote did come with some confusion as council members asked for clarification on the wording of the motion and which way that they would be directing their vote. Kost had commented that it had been said that once a recommendation is made that council always agrees. This perhaps caused some of the confusion as council was making a move to deny a recommendation. Kost commented that she believed that the Planning Commission had done a good job in compiling its own data before making the recommendation and that the vote should not be taken to imply otherwise. “I just don’t agree with the recommendation,” she explained.
Dennis’s withdraw was met with some concern and skepticism by the residents on hand for the 7:00 PM meeting. Some residents were concerned that allowing the withdraw would take away their right for subsequent meetings and vacate council’s original vote. Director of Law Thomas McWatters explained that, with the withdraw, Dennis would need to start from the beginning of the process by approaching the Planning Commission first should he decide to submit another proposal.
In other business conducted during the regular 5:00 PM meeting, council once again approved the request made by Jo Aeschliman on behalf of the Homecoming Committee to have a Beer Garden at this year’s Homecoming festivities. Council commented that they need to look into the process so that the committee didn’t have to re-address council every year.
The Beer Garden will be in the same location as last year and will be open from 5-11 PM on Thursday and Friday and from 1PM until midnight on Saturday.
During department head reports, Code Administrator Tom Hall was taken to task by several council members for his use of $9000 of the Moving Ohio Forward Grant to demolish a house on Cedar Street prior to council’s approval. The arguments from the council members centered on knowing nothing about the project due to a lack of communication.
Councilor Don Mathews expressed that he has brought up a lack of communication in the past. Mathews noted that he was informed of the demolition by residents who assumed that he, as a council member, was already aware.
Councilor Kathy Huner also expressed her displeasure that the council was not made aware of the demolishment and that the council was being asked to vote to approve the spending of funds that had already been spent. Huner also strongly reminded Hall that all funds used need to be approved by council before they are spent as the funds belong to the city and residents of Wauseon that council represents.
Hall explained that the house’s foundation had moved, causing a dangerous situation, and that the demolition had been done quickly to protect neighboring residents. He also explained that he had not known of the situation in a timely enough matter to bring it to council prior to demolition. With the state grant, he further explained, “we could help a citizen”.
Both Mathews and Huner argued that some type of message, e-mail, or information in the council packet was in order and that they were displeased with having put before council with no notice.
The recommendation to expend the funds, which will be used to pay for the demolition, was eventually approved with a 5-0 vote. Councilor Shane Chamberlin explained, “We really don’t have a choice. We don’t want the homeowner to have to pay that bill.
In other department head reports:
~Assistant Police Chief Bill McConnell gave notice of an upcoming traffic Blitz in August that will focus on distracted driving.
~Hall also noted that applications for home remodeling have been on the rise, which points at a recovering economy.
~Public Service Director Dennis Richardson informed council that improvement work on the city water tower is going well and nearing an end.
Legislative matters approved by council included:
~A resolution authoring the mayor to execute a renewal application for governmental aggregators. The resolution passed under emergency language.
~Also under emergency language, the passage of an ordinance providing for the issuance and sale of $1.45 million in notes in anticipation of bonds to improve the municipal waterworks system by installing a water line, constructing an additional water treatment and building lagoon, acquiring additional equipment, and making other improvements.
~The first reading of an ordinance to redefine part-time and full-time city employees’ hours to keep the definitions in accordance with the Healthcare Act.
~Under emergency language, a resolution authorizing the mayor to enter into an amended agreement for a countywide Emergency Management Agency pursuant to the Ohio Revised Code.