Council President Mr. Martin called the May 24, 2021 meeting to order at 7:34PM. If you aren’t a member of council please mute your computer so it will cut down the background noise. Due to COVID-19 our council meetings are being conducted through ZOOM. The roll was called with the following members present: Mrs. Drake, Mr. Ferguson, Mr. Gant, Mr. Locke, 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 Clerk of Council Mrs. Meredith. Absent from the May 24, 2021 meeting was Councilperson Mrs. Miller.
Council President Mr. Martin asked that everyone please rise for the Prayer and remain standing for the Pledge of Allegiance. Mrs. Drake gave the invocation and led us in the Pledge of Allegiance.
A motion was made by Ms. Riffle to approve the minutes with correction and by-pass the reading of the May 10, 2021 minutes and accept as presented. Ms. Riffle pointed out that under adjourn it showed her as making the motion to adjourn but she was absent from the meeting. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Reports of City Officials:
Mayor Lorentz reported that he was able to attend Graduation for our seniors on Sunday May 15th. During the interviews for scholarships etc. I met quite a few amazing young people that one day hopefully will take our place helping the city of Belpre.
The street foreman, Police Chief, Service Director and I met virtually with O.D.O.T. and pretty much turned down the idea of the road diet. We at this point cannot find it practical to take Washington Blvd. to a three lane roadway.
On the 19th, I was re-elected Chairman of the WWW or Interstate Planning Commission. Mayor Rapp of Vienna will serve as Vice-Chair.
June 2nd the French Consultants will bestow on one our residents quite a recognition. Roy Sees served in WW2 and will be 102 years old. Roy is the stepfather of Linda Boso which you all know.
June 3rd we are re-opening the Sr. Center with some limitations on the number of visitors. It looks like the reservation list is almost full today.
For those interested our monthly, Economic Development meeting is Thursday at 6PM. We will again meet at the Sr. Center.
Interviews are complete for now as we offered employment to a young man at the street department.
Council, I have instructed the Code Enforcement Officer to assist me with identifying blighted properties around town. It is my intention to start a cleanup campaign with teeth. We have properties on the west end of town that have received numerous warnings and lists of infractions. It is time for us to get serious. Our entrances to town need a lot of attention.
Our pool should be opening soon. Pumps are being exercised and last minute details addressed. A definite date should be announced tomorrow.
It looks like we are slowly getting back to what was normal. The Chamber of Commerce is holding a luncheon at the Church of Christ on May 27th at noon.
We have with us tonight Jennifer Wilfong with AT&T.
The Safety-Service Director gave her report for May 10, 2021 as she had to leave for a family emergency and May 24, 2021. They are as follows:
May 10, 2021 – A Dominion representative called last week and stated that, weather permitting, they will be finishing the landscaping, sidewalks and roads starting this week. Looking forward to this project being completed.
Chief Williams picked up 40 bicycle helmets last week that he received through a grant and they will be distributed at the Belpre Homecoming.
I found funds on the treasurer’s report that the balances have remained the same since 2008 for 214 Recreation Improvements and 402 Marina. I have asked Leslie to ask for an appropriation so these funds can be used for the park improvements and boat ramp improvements.
Miller Communications has replaced lights on the radio tower, however, the daytime white light has to be repaired. It should be fixed in the next couple of weeks.
We conducted interviews for the WWTP on Thursday. We have chosen Josh Snyder to fill this position. He will be starting in two weeks as long as the drug testing and physical come back with good results.
The pickle ball courts will have new blacktop on them in two weeks. The asphalt will be installed while they are paving Blennerhassett Avenue.
I received information from SIXMO in response to the Burton Economic Development Study. They are from Marietta, I know we have talked about them before. I would like President Martin to assign this submittal to Bill Locke, Economic Development Committee Chair. We would like to utilize their services with to get the Burton Plan off the ground and running. I have put a copy of these submittals on everyone’s desk. Can we set a committee meeting to get started on these projects please?
May 24, 2021 – Pavement Technology put their solution over the newly paved roads, Pomeroy Pike between Depot and Campus, including the intersection at Lee, also Stone Road.
The city building has been landscaped, it’s looks much better!
We are getting a young man from the Summer Youth Program through ODJFS. He will start out helping flush hydrants and then move on to help out at the street department.
Joe Lambert will be starting on the design of the salt storage building for the street garage this week.
David Schafer, the Mayor and I met with Sara Hess who is with United Way. They will be installing signs to encourage parents to interact with their children by participating in the activities suggested on the signage. United Way will also be installing a free book library.
City Auditor Miss Pittenger stated that the Safety-Service Director asked her to put together an exhibit for a supplemental. It has been prepared and sent to the law director’s office so hopefully we will have that by the next meeting. There is not a lot on it. It might behoove us to have a Finance/Audit Committee meeting prior to next council meeting to discuss so we don’t drag it out all summer. I also have the April’s Utility Adjustment Report available this evening. It is on the cities website and copies in council chambers. Mr. Locke made a motion to accept the April’s Utility Adjustment Report as presented. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
City Law Director Mr. Webster had no report.
City Treasurer Mrs. Copeland reported that the April Treasurer’s Report is on line and is awaiting approval by council. Mr. Martin asked if anyone had seen a copy of the report. Ms. Riffle asked when it was posted on-line. Mrs. Copeland was having a hard time understanding the question as she was on ZOOM. Mrs. Drake addressed the negative balance on Fund 250 Mayor’s Court. She was informed by Mr. Ferguson that it should be positive by the end of the year. Ms. Riffle asked Miss Pittenger about Fund 250 Mayor’s Court and it being in the negative. Miss Pittenger stated that at the end of last year and the beginning of this year we started in the negative as revenue collections were down. This is why we had to transfer $3,000. We should be whole by the end of the year because there will be revenue coming in. Ms. Riffle made a motion to accept the Treasurer’s Report since we had clarification from the City Auditor. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Communications and Petitions:
Mr. Martin reminded council about committee assignments. Council needs to refer to their committee assignments. If the assignments doesn’t come out of committee and finish by this term of council it will not be transferred to the new council. If you have no intention of completing your assignments please let Council President Mr. Martin know so he can address.
Mrs. Drake asked about placing an antenna on top of water tower. According to Mr. Webster he has multiple questions regarding this. It is in their hands and we are awaiting answers. They will need to decide whether or not they are willing to negotiate the contract.
Mr. Webster is to get with Mrs. Drake to discuss Backwater Valve prior to next meeting.
Mrs. Hoblitzell asked where we are at with C-3 Zoning. Mr. Locke stated that he and Mr. Webster has discussed but additional discussion is needed. We will have something very soon. There are some changes needed per Mr. Webster.
Mr. Martin assigned the following: Finance Audit Committee Mr. Ferguson was assigned the Tax Budget for 2022. Mr. Locke was assigned A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE MAYOR OF THE CITY OF BELPRE TO PREPARE AND SUBMIT AN APPLICATION TO PARTICIPATE IN THE APPALACHIA REGIONAL COMMISSION/GOVERNOR’S OFFICE OF APPALACHIA PROGRAM(S) AND TO EXECUTE CONTRACTS AS REQUIRED.
Report of Standing Committee:
Mr. Ferguson Finance/Audit Committee called a committee meeting for 6:45 PM prior to the next council meeting to discuss the Tax Budget and 7PM to discuss two different re-appropriation ordinances.
Mr. Gant, Police and Fire Committee had no report.
Ms. Riffle Streets, Sidewalks and Storm Sewer had no report. Ms. Riffle asked about when the line stripping would take place on Washington Boulevard. Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that it would begin once the pool was completed. Ms. Riffle asked if Dominion was repairing the gas leak on Ann Street today. According to the Mayor, yes they were.
Mrs. Drake Utilities Committee had no report. Mrs. Drake introduced Jennifer Wilfong from AEP. She discussed the agreement with the City of Belpre allowing AEP to work with right of ways on their poles and lines. This is a non-exclusive franchise. It is Ohio Power which is a part of AEP per Mr. Webster. We are the distribution company. What the franchise does is allows us to provide services to new customers across the territory. You as a citizen have the right to choose your company that provides services. Mr. Gant asked if this has anything to do with the Aggregation Program. Mrs. Wilfong stated that it does not. Mrs. Hoblitzell asked when they would be taking the half poles down. She stated that if you have a specific area to let her know. She will provide information regarding this.
Mr. Shutts, Parks and Recreation Committee had no report.
President of Council Mr. Martin stated that he neglected to assign legislation tonight. He assigned the legislation and it appears under Communication and Petitions.
Mr. Locke Planning and Zoning Committee had no report.
Mr. Locke stated that he wanted to add back to the next meeting’s agenda for second reading AN ORDINANCE ESTABLISHING RULES, REGULATIONS, AND REGISTRATION REQUIREMENTS RELATIVE TO THE OPERATION OF GOLF CARTS WITHIN THE CITY OF BELPRE, OHIO. There will be amendments after the second reading per Mr. Webster. I also have before me a petition with two pages of signatures that were passed out in favor of golf carts. I’m trying to address the concerns. If anyone has concerns please feel free to call me. Some concerns was the crossing of Route 50 that will be prohibited. We are still working on the liabilities of inspections. I’m open to any questions and concerns. Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that there are concerns of driving golf carts on city right-of-ways.
Mr. Webster stated that berms are part of the street. They can’t ride on sidewalks and Lee Street is a concern.
Ms. Riffle stated that she has been addressed about golf carts and that the concerns only applies to part of the city with limitations.
Mr. Locke stated that it is unfortunate but correct. If you are west of Farson Street legally golf carts are limited.
Mr. Locke Economic Development Committee reported that his committee met on May 24, 2021 at 6:30 PM for the purpose of discussing (SIXMO) which is a company that will discuss our Economic Development Plan and how they can help to implement the Burton Plan.
Mrs. Miller Rules Committee was absent. No report was given in her absence.
Persons Appearing Before Council – Agenda items only. None
Mrs. Drake brought before council for third reading A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE MAYOR TO ENTER INTO A COMMUNITY HOUSING IMPACT AND PRESERVATION PROGRAM PARTNER AGREEMENT WITH THE WASHINGTON COUNTY COMMISSINERS. Discussion followed. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Mrs. Drake moved this be Resolution 23, 2020-2021 and duly passed. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Mr. Ferguson brought before council for second reading A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE MAYOR OF THE CITY OF BELPRE TO ENTER INTO A FRANCHISE AGREEMENT WITH OHIO POWER COMPANY. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye. This will lie over until the next meeting of council.
NEW BUSINESS: none
PERSONS APPEARING BEFORE COUNCIL:
William Cassidy 824 Belrock Avenue wanted to thank those who were responsible for the repair of the storm sewer at the corner of Belrock and Patricia Street. Everything is done and it looks very nice. Thank you for expediting that repair.
Mr. Cassidy asked Mayor Lorentz about the three lanes versus four lanes on Washington Boulevard. Mayor Lorentz stated that after driving that with the Police Chief we have elected to leave as is. There will be no change.
Mr. Cassidy asked about the flashing light removal at Farson Street and Route 50 and Braun Road and Route 50. Was it the state that elected to remove the flashing lights and replace with another stop light? Mayor Lorentz stated that ODOT removed the flashing lights as they deemed it not as safe. There will be new signage going up as well as the lights will be adjusted accordingly. I know where you are going with this as I also like the flashing lights. Mr. Cassidy stated that he thought the flashing lights are very important. Since they were removed there has been a fatality at Farson Street.
Mr. Cassidy stated that there has been a couple of guard rails damaged by accidents. Is that the responsibility of ODOT to repair or the City of Belpre? Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that it is our responsibility. A few weeks ago I asked Miss Pittenger to appropriate money to fix those guard rails.
During the committee meeting there was talk about CARES money that could be possibly used for the SIXMO Project. I’m not opposed to that however I think there is some infrastructure around the city that could be done. Can Cares money be used for storm sewers throughout the city that needs repaired? According to Mrs. Hoblitzell Cares money can’t be used for that.
Mr. Cassidy asked if the city building would be open to the public beginning June 2, 2021. According to the Mayor the Governor will be relaxing some of the issues. The decision to open council meetings will be the decision by the Attorney General and the Governor. We have an employee out and we would like to remain closed to the public until she returns.
Mr. Cassidy asked if the Mayor has any idea when the city building will open to the public. According to President of Council Mr. Martin we do not. Mayor Lorentz stated that we are waiting on the Attorney General and the Governor. Mr. Webster stated that the Attorney General was the one who made the decision about closing council meetings. It will be the decision of the Attorney General and our Governor when we can reopen council meetings.
Mr. Jim Freeland 747 Ruble Avenue addressed council in regards to basement back up. Mr. Freeland stated that something must be done. Since I moved back seven years ago I have yet to get an answer about why I’m getting raw sewage in my basement. John Underwood stated that this has been a problem for over 20 years. Mayor Lorentz stated that when I left council a couple weeks ago we found that tree roots was one of the problems and they have since been removed. Mr. Freeland stated that when it rains the water is not being pumped fast enough. Mayor Lorentz stated that he didn’t know what could be done. Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that perhaps installing a back water valve in your home would help. Mr. Freeland stated that he would be putting a Sanitation Backwater Valve in. I checked on it today and it is going to cost approximately $1,000.
Mr. Mario Coon 1111 Blennerhassett Avenue, Belpre stated that he was glad to hear that the golf cart legislation is still being worked on. I’m glad that Mr. Locke is considering some concerns of the police department and citizens.
Mr. Coon also asked if paving Blennerassett Avenue was still slated for the end of May. Is it the plan to do one lane at a time? Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that it is still slated for the end of May. It should be one lane at a time. They will be painting the road with part of it being marked as a bike path. They are not widening the street. The speed limit is set for 25mph however it seems to be a drag strip. Is it possible to put speed bumps where folks are coming out of the ballfields? Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that speed bumps are not legal. We have checked about some solar speed limit signs with flashing lights below to show your actual speed. We are looking into this.
Mr. Ferguson stated that he would like to add A RESOLUTION ADOPTING THE TAX BUDGET FOR 2022 to the next agenda.
Mr. Locke stated that he spoke with Mrs. Miller today and she is under the weather and asked that she be excused from this evenings meeting. Mr. Locke made a motion to excuse Mrs. Miller from this evenings meeting. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Mrs. Drake recommended to Mr. Locke that if everything goes through about the golf carts to make the inspection stickers nontransferable.
Ms. Riffle apologized for not being at the last council meeting to the council and citizens. I was not feeling well and I fell asleep and missed the meeting. I do appreciate being excused from the meeting.
Jesse Wonycott addressed the issue of a man living in a tent on Barclay where the trailer burnt. Mayor Lorentz stated that he has been there three or four times and have not seen that however I will make another attempt.
President of Council Mr. Martin wished Mrs. Hoblitzell a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
Ms. Riffle made a motion to adjourn at 8:43 PM. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.