Council hears about fair housing, ODOT project concerns

Matt Echelberry

April 8, 2014

At Galion City Council’s April 8 meeting, Council President Carl Watt first welcomed Shirley Clark back to the table. She had surgery last month.

Council then heard a fair housing presentation from Dale Hartle of the Ohio Regional Development Corporation. He explained that in order for Galion to receive Federal grant dollars like CHIP and CDBG, fair housing information must be presented to the community, as required by law. When the city receives any such funding for projects, ORDC will do community outreach in all areas affected by the project.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discriminatory housing practices based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, handicap/disability or familial status. Complaints may be filed with the Fair Housing Administration at 1-800-581-3247 or the Ohio Civil Rights Commission at 1-888-278-7101.

Hartle said ORDC receives many complaints regarding tenant-landlord issues. While renters are covered under the Fair Housing Act, he said there are some stipulations as far as what the law covers. The Ohio Tenant-Landlord Bill applies more directly to rental agreements, for issues such as landlord’s responsibilities, lockouts and utility shutoffs and eviction.

For more information on fair housing, contact the clerk of the Crawford County Commissioners at 419-562-5876.

In citizen comments Michael Bear, a local attorney, suggested the city look at its restrictions on campaign signs. According to him, the existing ordinance is not really enforceable.

From Chapter 1181.06 of the Galion Codified Ordinances:

(b) Signs or posters concerning candidates for elective office, public issues and similar matters to be decided by public election, to be displayed beginning not more than forty-five (45) days prior to the election and to be removed not later than three (3) days after such election. Such signs shall not exceed twelve (12) square feet in area, shall not be illuminated and shall not be located within a public right-of-way nor be affixed to any public utility pole or street tree. In addition such sign shall not be located in any manner so as to create a safety or visibility hazard.

Bear explained the 45-day time limit is a problem due to early voting, which starts 35 days before an election. He suggested eliminating or extending the time limit for posting signs, and supplied council with a written proposal.

The issue was sent to the Laws and Ordinances Committee for further review.

In legislation council had two items to consider that evening.

Ord. 2014-36 amended Chapter 355 of the the Codified Ordinances, which involves parking during snow emergencies (three inches of snowfall or greater).

The chapter was originally passed in 1987, so the list of streets was overdue for an update. The revised list of streets is: Harding Way East and West (all), Church Street (all), North Jefferson Street (between Church and Harding Way), Liberty Street (between Church and Atwood), Columbus Street (between Church and Walnut), Market Street (all), Union Street (between Church and Walnut), Atwood Street (between Boston and Erie railroad tracks), Walnut Street (between Union and Liberty), Boston Street (between Harding Way West and Grove Avenue), and Grove Avenue (between Boston and Portland Way South).

The ordinance passed as a second reading.

Ord. 2014-41 amended appropriations for a payment to the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System in the amount of $26,100.

Council member Tom Fellner asked if the amount of the appropriation would be enough to cover the payment. City Auditor Brian Treisch responded that it was.

“For the sake of clarification, if we don’t pass this tonight, the interest will continue to build?” Council member Jon Kleinknecht asked. Several city officials said that was the case.

Fellner motioned to suspend the rules to pass the item as an emergency, seconded by Council member Mike Richart. The motion passed and the emergency reading was then passed unanimously.

In other business, Council President Carl Watt informed council there are some things that need looked at to save both time and paper. He requested they review his list of suggestions and add their own.

Some items he pointed out were: Not including the full ordinance in the council packet if it is a second or third reading, reducing paperwork for meeting minutes by summarizing discussions (motions and any citizen comments would be included in their entirety), and having committee chairs present the clerk with any legislation requests acted on by the committee.

Watt noted council has had 41 ordinances on its agenda so far this year, whereas there were about 18 ordinances at this time last year.

In the mayor’s comments, Tom O’Leary provided an update on the widening project for State Route 598. “There are a couple of complicating factors,” he began.

At no fault of the city’s, there has been some delays with the utility lines and pole relocation, as well as some challenges with scheduling work with the contractor. ODOT is trying to work out these complications.

Also, O’Leary said the south leg of the project (from the Four Corners intersection to Grove Avenue) may now only allow northbound traffic. The proposed detour for southbound traffic is currently west on State Route 19, left on State Route 100, and then back to State Route 309/61.

However, he said the biggest concern for the city is the start and stop dates for the bridge closure, in which the bridge on 598 will be completely rebuilt. That portion is set to take up to 90 days.

According to the mayor, a delay in the closure would be good for two reasons. It would allow more time for the Hesby Drive project to be constructed, which could begin as early at May 1. He added that ten contractors have already inquired about the project. Also, paving for the north end of the project (from the intersection to Heise Park Lane) does not have to be completed until Oct. 31, so a delay in the bridge portion could better align its completion with the completion of the paving.

Upcoming meetings:

Parks Committee - April 15, 7 p.m.

Finance Committee - April 16, 7 p.m.

Laws and Ordinances Committee - April 29, 6:30 p.m.