Council President Mr. Martin called the February 10, 2020 meeting to order at 7:30PM. The roll was called with the following members present: Mrs. Drake, Mr. Ferguson, Mr. Gant, Mr. Locke, Mrs. Miller, Ms. Riffle and Mr. Shutts present. Also present was Mayor Lorentz, Safety Service Director Mrs. Hoblitzell, City Auditor Miss Pittenger, City Law Director Mr. Webster, City Treasurer Mrs. Copeland, and Council Clerk Mrs. Meredith. All were present for the meeting.
Council President Mr. Martin asked that everyone please rise for the Prayer and remain standing for the Pledge of Allegiance. Mr. Gant gave the invocation and led us in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Ms. Riffle made a motion to accept the minutes of January 27, 2020 meeting as presented and by-pass the reading. According to Mrs. Miller there was a mistake in the minutes. During the meeting Mr. Gilbert asked about when we are going to move forward on the golf carts. Mr. Webster pointed out the discussion on Page 6 of the minutes. Mrs. Miller wasn’t pleased as to how they were written. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye except for Mrs. Miller whom voted nay.
Reports of City Officials:
Mayor Lorentz reported the Safety-Service Director and I continue to meet with the Port Authority to stay up to date with the Burton Planning project. As we progress council will be notified.
An instructor at Washington State asked for me to speak to their Business Management class on the 28th. These were folks interested in working at their own business and are researching all avenues for pitfalls, benefits, rules etc. the morning was very interesting.
January 30th the Chamber, U.S. Census and I held a ceremonial ribbon cutting to kick-off the census count for our city. My hope is that all will take this seriously and participate.
Our water crew, street crew, Safety-Service Director, and I met with the O.U. Folks to finalize the wetland project at Civitan Park. So much of this area is almost impossible to mow at times and maintain. The Tree Commission decided it is a good idea to develop the wetland area.
An Eagle Scout and I met and decided to put his efforts toward the ball fields. Parker will pressure clean and paint all 8 of the dug-outs, some minor repairs will also be made. Hopefully the weather will cooperate. If any council members are willing to assist, I’m sure he would appreciate the help either with elbow grease or financially.
Our street crew did a great job last Friday clearing the streets after a snow. They accomplished this with just two trucks in operation and a small tractor. We were down to two trucks due to mechanical issues with the other two.
The pipeline from Dominion will start in Mid-February with some tree removal on Congress Road. The pipeline construction will start in late May.
Tonight, we have Maxine Mobbs chairperson for our Tree City Board. Maxine has the annual report to present and explain to council.
Maxine Mobbs presented her City of Belpre Tree Commission Annual Report for 2019. The City of Belpre Tree Commission started in November 1995. The commission is here to help with any action to the city regarding tree management. We assist in the care, preservation, trimming, planting, removal or disposition of trees and shrubs in public ways, streets, and alleys. We provide regular and special meetings at which the subject of trees as it relates to the city may be discussed by members of the Tree Commission and city personnel and all others interested in the tree program. Our accomplishments as part of growing our healthy tree canopy we did the following things. We planted three Memorial trees: one in Howes Grove Park and two at Civitan Park; one Arbor Day Tree was planted by the Senior Citizens building; eight trees were planted at Civitan Park; and three trees were planted on Boulevard Drive by the residents. The total cost was $2,280 including mulch and soil. There were ten trees cut down, four in early December 2018 and six in October 2019. We had a total of 236.25 volunteer hours (costing $5,594.60) 77 hours for the Mayor. There were no youth or Recreation chair hours reported. The revision of our tree ordinances started last year are still with the City Attorney waiting approval. A talk was given to the Rotary Club on April 3, 2019 about what the Tree Commission does. It is hoped that they will partner with us later. Kraton Ploymers invited us to their Earth Day celebration on April 18, 2019 where we put on a display and gave away information and free leaflets about how to plant trees and care for them. On May 3, 2019 we hosted Tree City USA for the South East Ohio region. At this event the Arbor Day tree was planted near the Senior Citizens Center after the Mayor read the proclamation at 11:45 a.m.
As part of our Education Accomplishments on June 21, 2019, four people went to the 40th year anniversary of the ODNR Urban Forestry at the Ohio State Fair Grounds in Columbus. On October 19, 2019, one member attended the now Annual Tree Survival School at Riverfront Park in Little Hocking. More knowledge was gained as were new practical skills. They also saw which trees has survived from last year.
We partnered with Belpre Women’s Club for the Arbor Day tree which they purchased. We continue the partnership with Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs who are helping us with the project of building a rain garden to the east of the pond in Civitan Park. They have found us a grant of around $10,000. The building of this area should start in early spring 2020. We are working with OSU Extension Officer Marcus McCartney to plan an apple tree grafting from the Holdren apple trees in Civitan Park. These are very old now and we lost one in 2017 and the others are not in a very good state. As we need to remove them for the rain garden project this seems like a good idea to try and save them.
Our goals and objectives are to have the revised ordinances approved by the City Attorney and the City Council. Continue to be a Tree City USA and have an Arbor Day program. Continue to grow our tree canopy by planting two trees for everyone removed and increase the tree canopy by 25 percent. Continue our education of all Tree Commission members. Know which of our trees are heritage trees and continue to protect them. Put in place a tree monitoring plan for recognition of pests and diseases. Also, a plan to take care of all the trees belonging to the city from the newest planted to the oldest still standing. This will include watering, mulching, pruning, removal of dead limbs and trimming certain trees so the canopy is above pedestrian and vehicle heights. The historical trees on the right of Access Park as you go to the boat launch ramp need signage made bigger and make this the start of Belpre’s Arboretum. Continue as an active Tree Commission and continue to be a Community Forestry Program with an annual budget of at least $3 per capita. A copy of her report is on file in council chambers. Ms. Riffle asked Ms. Mobbs when the committee meets. She was informed they will meet tomorrow in the city building conference room. The meetings are held once a month on the second Tuesday.
Safety-Service Director, Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that the only she had to add was the she met with the city engineer and learned about the State Purchasing Plan.
City Auditor Miss Pittenger stated that she has placed on your desk an agenda for the first newly elected council training program that will be put on by the Ohio Municipal League in Columbus on March 21, 2020. She stated that she already has four people interested. Please contact Miss Pittenger if you would like to attend so she can fill out the registration form and get it sent in. The Utility Adjustment Report is before you this evening and needs approved. Copies are on the back table and the report appears on line. The report includes $10,141.00 sewer adjustment to the Washington County Commissioners account. Ms. Riffle made a motion to accept the adjustment report as presented. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
City Law Director Mr. Webster announced that he has given everyone a copy of the Sunshine Law. Please read as what would happen if they would find someone in violation of the Sunshine Law. Secondly I have prepared legislation to change the time of council meeting from 7:30 PM to 7:00. This will be submitted to committee this evening. I have requested that the chair go into Executive Session at the end of the meeting to discuss litigation.
City Treasurer Ms. Copeland reported that a copy of the Treasurer’s Report is before you this evening. Copies appear on-line, copies at the back table and a signed copy is being given to the clerk. I ask for council approval as presented. Mrs. Miller asked Mrs. Copeland where she got her figures and is there a form to fill out for your report. Miss Pittenger stated it is the report that I give her from the end of the month. Ms. Riffle made a motion to accept the Treasurer’s Report as presented. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Communications and Petitions: –
Council President Mr. Martin assigned the change of council meetings from 7:30 to 7:00 to the Rules Committee to bring forth at the next council meeting.
I have also reviewed and initialed the Bank Reconciliation for January 2020.
Mr. Martin also stated that we will go into Executive Session following Persons Appearing before Council. Mr. Martin stated that there will be no further business conducted before the council following the Executive Session other than the adjournment.
Report of Standing Committee:
Mr. Ferguson Finance/ Audit Committee reported that Finance/Audit Committee met January 27, 2020 for the purpose of discussing the Humane Society Contract, Touch on the 2020 Appropriations and Credit Card Policy for the City of Belpre. I was absent from that meeting. Mr. Gant informed Mr. Ferguson that there was no action taken on the Humane Society and the Credit Card Policy was just discussed. Mr. Ferguson stated that he would call another meeting to discuss those two items. Mr. Ferguson shared the discussion he had with Mr. Raney regarding the contract with the City of Belpre and his proposal of $6,000 for receiving dogs and cats captured by the police department. They will not respond to Belpre to pick up any animals. Mr. Ferguson asked his committee if they wanted to continue with this proposal or have it removed from the committee assignments. All were in agreement to remove from the committee assignments. We had another meeting on February 3, 2020 at 6PM and on February 10th at 6:30 pm for furthering the discussion on the appropriations. Mr. Ferguson called a meeting for February 17th, 2020 at 6PM. He asked the law director to draft the legislation for the next meeting of council to be placed on the agenda for first reading. This will be just for first reading as we are still going through the process.
Mr. Gant, Police and Fire Committee announced on February 6, 2020 he met with the Police Chief to discuss award recommendations. He stated that there is a council regarding these awards. Later that day I met with the Fire Chief and discussed what was going on in the fire department.
Ms. Riffle Streets, Sidewalks and Storm Sewer reported that a meeting of the Streets, Sidewalks and Storm Sewers was held on Thursday, February 6th, 2020 at 6 pm in the council chambers regarding junk/abandoned vehicles as advertised. The request for the meeting was based on multiple concerns I received regarding junk vehicles, and their impact on Property Values, health and sanitation, environmental concerns, general appearance and enforcement.
Administration/Council Members present were Mayor Lorentz, City Law Director Tom Webster, Auditor Leslie Pittenger and Council Members: Dave Ferguson, Tim Gant and Penne Riffle. One member of the community was present.
The meeting began with the discussion of the city’s current ordinances, primarily 303.10, 351.03 and 351.14 under the Traffic Codes.
Mr. Ferguson was also provided 1313.12b under the Housing Code.
Mr. Gant also encouraged us to look to the Fire Code as well, as it may apply in some cases.
Upon review and discussion there was agreement that the city’s ordinances were vague and lacking “teeth” and needed to be corrected where necessary, clarified, updated to meet ORC and that more stringent enforcement is required. Additionally, there was a consensus of those present that the fines need to be assessed and potentially increased to make offenders more likely to remedy the situation.
We concluded with homework for those attending, to research other cities ‘ordinances and to return to our next meeting with that information. That meeting is scheduled for February 20, 2020 at 6PM in Council Chambers.
I would add that this initial meeting was mostly information gathering. This process may take some time, but we are working towards a clearer, more enforceable ordinance that will help improve the visuals and appearance around town.
Mrs. Drake Utilities Committee had no report.
Mr. Shutts, Parks and Recreation Committee reported that he has been working with the Belpre Baseball Commission and he feels that we are getting things worked out with them. It’s not exactly what we want yet but we are working towards that. We should be having more games played here at Civitan Park this year.
Mr. Locke Planning and Zoning Committee had no report.
Mr. Locke Economic Development Committee had no report.
Ms. Miller Rules Committee had no report.
Persons Appearing Before Council – Agenda items only. None
Unfinished Business: –
Mr. Gant brought before council for second reading AN ORDINANCE AUTHORIZING THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A CITY-OWNED IMPOUND LOT AND AUTHORIZING THE SAFETY-SERVICE DIRECTOR TO ESTABLISH THE ADMINISTRATIVE AND STORAGE FEES TO BE CHARGED PRIOR TO RELEASE OF A VEHICLE FROM THE CITY-OWNED IMPOUND LOT. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Mr. Gant moved to suspend the rule on three different days to allow for the third reading of AN ORDINANCE AUTHORIZING THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A CITY-OWNED IMPOUND LOT AND AUTHORIZING THE SAFETY-SERVICE DIRECTOR TO ESTABLISH THE ADMINISTRATIVE AND STORAGE FEES TO BE CHARGED PRIOR TO RELEASE OF A VEHICLE FROM THE CITY-OWNED IMPOUND LOT. Mrs. Miller asked if the fees had been established. Mr. Gant informed Mrs. Miller that they had been established and a copy was on her desk. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Mr. Gant brought before council for third reading AN ORDINANCE AUTHORIZING THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A CITY-OWNED IMPOUND LOT AND AUTHORIZING THE SAFETY-SERVICE DIRECTOR TO ESTABLISH THE ADMINISTRATIVE AND STORAGE FEES TO BE CHARGED PRIOR TO RELEASE OF A VEHICLE FROM THE CITY-OWNED IMPOUND LOT. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Mr. Gant moved this be Ordinance #1, 2020-2021 and duly passed. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
NEW BUSINESS: –
Mr. Martin stated that he had assigned the change to the start of the regular council meetings to make it more appealing to citizens that may want to attend.
PERSONS APPEARING BEFORE COUNCIL:
Clayton Hunt 1405 Poplar Street appeared before council regarding golf carts. Last year we started this and we keep getting bull dozed. What wasn’t supposed to take long has ended up with we are still here with no answers. Mr. Martin informed Mr. Hunt that the golf carts has not yet been reassigned back to committee and as soon as we have completed the budget it will be assigned to Mr. Gant’s committee. Our top priority right now is the budget. Mr. Hunt asked if there is a time frame when that will be reassigned. Mr. Martin stated that it has to go through the original process and we have to get the major legislation completed first.
Karen Locke 726 Tuttle Street stated that she doesn’t see a name or number for the Boy Scout that is going to do the project at Civitan Park. The Mayor told Karen to contact him regarding this as he is still in school. I’m sure there is a lot of people that would want to help. When does the ball season start in Belpre? She was told April 18th.
Ms. Riffle encourages everyone in participating with the Census. It helps us with our funding. We need the best representation that we can get. This will provide funds for our schools and our city.
Mrs. Locke asked when they will do this. She was informed in March. Is it daytime or evening hours? It is at their convenience. How will we receive notification? They will be mailing notification to your home. She was also informed that you could do it on-line.
Mrs. Miller made a motion to go into Executive Session at 8:10 for the purpose of discussing litigation. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Mrs. Drake made a motion that council be back in session at 8:42 PM. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Ms. Riffle made a motion to adjourn at 8:43pm. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.