JACKSON CENTER — Jackson Center Council voted unanimously to reduce the size of a lot required for building multi-family units at its meeting Monday evening.
Prior to adopting a new ordinance, construction of multi-family units required the building lot be a minimum of five acres. Due to an anticipated future growth and an increase in housing demands, coupled with a lack of sizable lots meeting the former five acre minimum, council approved the measure in hopes of encouraging new construction.
At a previous council meeting Todd Ratermann, Ratermann Custom Home Builders Inc., Sidney, approached council and shared tentative plans to construct several multi-family units in Jackson Center but voiced concerns about the lack of prospective building sites due to the five acre minimum requirement for like structures. Ratermann discussed the matter with zoning officer and Community Development Director Ed Maxwell prior to the meeting and Maxwell suggested council consider reducing the size of the lots thus creating building possibilities on smaller lots.
Ratermann indicated that two-acre lots would provide ample space for the construction of the proposed units. An ordinance was drawn up to change the minimum amount of land required from 5 to 2 acres but validation fell under the council’s three-reading rule. The first reading took place at the last council meeting and after the second reading at this meeting zoning officer Maxwell suggested council suspend the three reading rule to facilitate the initiation of the new housing construction.
Mayor Scott Klopfenstein asked for thoughts concerning Maxwell’s suggestion.
“I have heard several comments from local residents and they’ve all been positive, so in the interest of moving forward for the sake of our community I see no problem with suspending the rule,” said Village Administrator Bruce Metz.
Maxwell noted there had not been any calls to his office about the issue.
Council voted unanimously to suspend the three-reading rule and afterward a motion was made, received a second, and the ordinance passed.
Financial Officer Larry Wahrer reported receipts were $114,000 higher than expenditures for the month of March and that the $87,000 in income tax for March was $3500 higher than the figure for same month in 2017.
“We’re looking good right now but I’m sure there will be some ups and downs in the coming months, however, as long as we stay on top of things and plan well there will not be any problems,” said Wahrer.
Later in the meeting, Metz said village solicitor Mike Burton had suggested he contact a representative from Rea and Associates, a public accounting firm to check on what it would cost to have them keep track of the financial reports and make sure there were no problems as the business dealings in the village have become more complicated and increased with growth.
“Basically they would just make sure we were compliant in our business affairs, assist us with things like audits, and make sure our figures were correct. As it stands for now Bev (village fiscal officer) and I are comfortable with the work load; although it gets hectic from time to time, we are comfortable with how things are currently handled if council is comfortable with our performance then we’ll just leave it alone,” said Metz.
Village Fiscal Officer Bev Wren said the basic cost for the accounting services would be $5,000 a year.
Councilman Ken Gloyeske expressed his appreciation for the way Metz and Wren have handled things thus far.
“Since you two are satisfied with the current situation and doing a good job, I see no reason to change things; we can use the $5,000 for other more productive opportunities,” said Gloyeske.
Klopfenstein asked if the services were available on an as-needed basis and if paying an hourly fee was permissible. This is a possibility so council agreed this would be the best way to go and decided to keep things as they are for now.
In new business, council approved an ordinance authorizing certain adjustments in the 2018 annual appropriations of public funds for the village of Jackson Center. Metz said increasing appropriations were necessary to cover the increase in the cost of services provided by the village solicitor and to pay for a recent CRA advertisement the administration had placed in the Sidney Daily News concerning the recent annexation of village property.
Council also discussed the financing for the new vehicle storage facility and Metz reported his findings concerning securing a loan for the project.
“I think our best option is setting up a loan with the USDA Community Facilities Loan Program. They offer a fixed rate of 3.875 percent and there is no fee for their services in applying for and acquiring grant funding to help with the cost of the project. It is typically a 40-year loan but we are planning to shorten that to a 30-year term. Since this is Federal funding there will need to be an audit to check our financial standing but the cost of that audit is far less than the higher interest associated with a conventional loan,” said Metz.
Council gave Metz their approval on securing the loan.
Council also approved a resolution authorizing the application to Shelby County for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for the funding of a major street improvement project. “This will be quite a big project next year so we need to get things started now” said Metz, “there will be a lot of reconstruction including new storm water drains and paving, we just need to move forward as it takes a lot of time to go through the grant processes.” Council approved the resolution.
Before going into executive session for the purpose of discussing the purchase or sale of real estate and the employment of personnel council heard the administrator’s report. Metz noted things were already beginning to get busy.
“There is a lot going on right now, the electric department is trimming trees, and recently ran the conduit for the retention pond pump. Electrical Superintendent Dave Overman and I attended an American Municipal Power (APM) and Western Area Service Group (WASG) power supply conference in Piqua,” said Metz “We also met with officials of Lippert Components and Lacal Inc. about electrical issues, the meetings went well. Our street department has been busy doing routine maintenance and preparing our equipment for summer use. Street Superintendent Rick Sailor and I also met with engineers from Airstream and other officials with ODOT, Jobs Ohio, SSEP and discussed future development possibilities.”
Metz also reported on the water/wastewater departments.
“Water/Waste Water Superintendent Braden Lotz and department apprentice Drew Sosby attended tabletop training at Covington; and Braden, Meghan Serr (village utility clerk) and I met with the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) about costs associated with a service study,” said Metz.
“Preparations at the swimming pool are going well; the pool has been drained, is being power-washed and re-painted as needed and all the regular maintenance updated. Pool season is just around the corner, the exact opening day will be announced as soon as things are ready and personnel is hired for the summer operations there,” Metz said.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.