JACKSON CENTER — Jackson Center Council moved one step closer to annexing approximately 50 acres to the village’s west side for future growth and development.
At approximately 2 p.m. Monday, March 26, Jackson Center Solicitor Mike Burton signed paperwork finalizing the village’s purchase of that property. The annexation proposal was approved by council and now goes to Shelby County Engineer Bob Geuy for his approval and then to the Shelby County commissioners for a final endorsement before any zoning changes are made by the village to designate its use. Prior to the regular council meeting, the Jackson Center Planning Commission met and recommended the annexation and rezoning of the property. Any plat of land over 5 acres annexed to the village comes in zoned R-1 Residential. The Planning Commission recommended the land be annexed and re-zoned I-1 Industrial to accommodate future growth and development. The commission also recommended the village designate “Tiger Trail” a village street. Tiger Trail is a roadway on the east side of the school that lies between Davis and Hamer Streets.
In old business, council heard a report from Zoning Officer and Economic Development Director Ed Maxwell recommending that the village change the minimum amount of land for construction of multi-family units from 5 to 2 acres.
Todd Ratermann with Ratermann Custom Home Builders, of Sidney, shared some photos and a blueprints of multi-family units the firm has built elsewhere.
“We are excited about contributing to this growing community” said Ratermann, “We would like to build some nice multi-family units in Jackson Center, but do not need 5-acre lots to accommodate the type of housing we are considering. Depending on the shape of the lot, the building would probably have five units of about 1,200 square feet each.”
Maxwell pointed out there is a real need for new housing and that this type of housing is more desirable than some of the alternatives, saying, “We don’t want to just stick a big 2-story apartment building in the middle of existing housing. We want something that is functional yet pleasing to the eye and will add to our property values, not take away from them.”
Ratermann agreed, saying, “Our buildings are constructed of the best materials available and will be upscale in nature, and our reputation is reflected in the type of housing we build so we will build something attractive, something that will appeal to those looking for a nice place to live.”
Mayor Scott Klopfenstein noted the growing need for additional housing: “We have people driving here from 30 to 40 miles away to come to work and part of the reason some do so is because at present there just aren’t enough places to live. I see this as a stepping stone of progress, an attractive way to provide an environment that encourages growth. It’s something our village needs. We will have to get Mike (the village solicitor) to look into what legislation is required for changing the zoning and present it to council for their guidance and consideration in the near future.” All of council was in agreement with the proposed changes.
In new business, council approved an ordinance establishing job classifications and pay scales for all employees of the village of Jackson Center.
“We made a couple of adjustments since the last reading to address increasing the seasonal pay rate of swimming pool employees by 10 cents an hour to meet minimum wage requirements and setting the rates in our mutual aid agreement for times when our village employees are called to assist in other municipalities in times of emergency,” Metz said.
Council passed an ordinance authorizing Metz to enter into a real estate purchase agreement with Airstream Inc.
“If the land annexation goes through as anticipated, the village could close an agreement with Airstream Inc. as early as June 1,” Metz said.
Lastly, council approved a resolution authorizing the village administrator to enter into a contract with Baughman Inc., doing business as Kah Nursery of Botkins for the T-ball project at Wally Byum Memorial Park.
“We are building two T-ball fields and Kah came in well below the other bids at about $2,200 less than the next closest bidder; the cost of the project is $49,982.93. The village will be assisting Kah in construction of the project, and we are excited to have this facility built for the children living in and around Jackson Center,” Metz said.
Metz also shared plans to use $22,843 of residual funding from the Eco-Smart Sustainability Grant to plant shrubs beside the basketball courts at the Wally Byum Park, planting trees and installing a solar entrance light at the new park on the south side of town and placing solar lights along a walkway by the new school between Rob and Hamer streets. Council agreed the plans were acceptable.
Before going into an executive session to discuss the purchase or sale of land, council heard a report by Metz on a variety of activities the village is working on.
“We are closing in on finishing the remodeling of a stock room to make an office for our economic development officer and ran electric for the pump at the water retention pond. We finished the storm drain tile project behind the movie theatre and started working on another storm tile by Airstream, as well as installing water and sewage lines for the restroom to be constructed at the new park. Also Dave Overman, Ed Maxwell and myself met with Airstream about costs associated with the new electric rates. Airstream expressed their gratitude for the consideration the village provides to its manufacturers in staying abreast of growing demands,” Metz said. He also noted how pleased he was with all the progress the village has enjoyed over time especially concerning the Community Reinvestment Agreements.
“Last time I checked, those agreements resulted in 177 new jobs with over $5 million in payroll. That’s a lot of growth and contributes to our community in number of ways. This is an exciting time for our town, and I’m thankful to work with so many fine folks in making it happen!”
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.