JACKSON CENTER — During its June 11 meeting, Jackson Center council approved an ordinance accepting the final plat for Westwood Estates, clearing the way for construction of new homes on the village’s southwest side.
The new subdivision is technically a continuation of the existing Touch of Country Estates but is being developed by a different contractor, hence the name change. Westwood Estates will comprise 15 lots of approximately one acre each. The total area to be developed is about 18 acres, which includes room for a small water detention area. During discussion before the vote, both Mayor Scott Klopfenstein and Councilman James DeVine asked to be excluded from any business transactions due to conflicts of interest. Councilwoman Leisha Elchert noted that the need for more building lots necessitated passing the ordinance and that it is a move in the right direction.
Village Zoning Officer and Community Development Director Ed Maxwell agreed saying, “Passing this ordinance will provide more building sites for those wanting new construction and will also free up some other properties if existing residents decide to build a new home there. Either way, it promotes growth and opportunity and will be beneficial for our community.” Council then passed the emergency measure to allow the project to move forward.
In other new business, council gave first reading to an ordinance authorizing Village Administrator Bruce Metz to enter into a community reinvestment area agreement with Airstream Inc. If approved, the move will provide Airstream with a tax abatement consistent with provisions made for other businesses in the past and is designed to promote growth and opportunity for those living in and around Jackson Center.
“We have the go-ahead from Jackson Center Schools and JVS and are waiting on approval from the state of Ohio,” said Metz. “If all goes well — and it should — we will finalize things at our next meeting.”
Council then approved an ordinance authorizing the closure of funds for pool operations and the Police Explorer program, moving the money from those accounts into the general fund. Both funds where set up for specific purposes which no longer exist, leaving the funds unavailable for any other use. The pool fund was set up to cover the cost of providing food and refreshment concessions, which have since been replaced by vending machines. The Police Explorer Program was designed to educate and help inform youth about the potential opportunities available in the field of law enforcement.
“We have about $10,000 in the pool fund and $600 left over from the Explorer program, all of which was unavailable for any other purpose than what it was designated for. By moving the funding, we can put the money to good use elsewhere,” Metz said.
Before going into an executive session for the purpose of discussing pending litigation, council heard a report from Metz on the problems associated with grass clippings and yard waste and how it is affecting the storm water runoff.
Metz noted there are ongoing problems with how some residents mow their grass, blowing the grass clippings onto the street. The practice causes a build-up of clippings that eventually block storm drains and results in overflows during times of heavy rainfall.
“We have reached a point where something has to be done,” said Metz. “I have talked to numerous village administrators in our area to see how they have dealt with this issue and found we are not the only ones having problems and got a lot of food for thought concerning how to address the situation. Grass clippings and yard waste blown into the street blocks our drain basins in times of heavy rain and makes a mess for everyone. Excess surface water ends up in in the basements of some of our homes and can create hazardous flooding situations that would be avoidable if some folks were more responsible,” Metz said.
Klopfenstein agreed, noting his frustration with those not using the dumpster located at the sewage plant to dispose of their refuse.
“I really think we have to do something to eliminate this problem. The village has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to reconstruct our streets, including the installation of water basins and storm drains to carry away the excess water to detention ponds during heavy rains. All this was done for a reason and now some of those catch basins are useless because they are full of yard waste, and we don’t always know there is a problem until there is a heavy rain, and then it’s too late. Those drains were designed for water, not leaves, sticks and grass clippings, and this situation is unacceptable. We have a place for our residents to put their yard waste, and some are using it, but not everybody, and that’s going to change. We need to come up with a plan of action by the next council meeting. Bruce has indicated it’s a common problem but Wapakoneta has a solution in place involving designated fines and labor fees associated with clean-ups … It seems to be working there, so maybe we can do something similar,” Klopfenstein said.
He also noted the village will be getting more aggressive on property maintenance codes in the near future.
“We have a few places around town that need attention. It’s not out of hand, and we’re not going to let it get that way. There are a couple of places in particular I would not want to live next to, and we don’t expect anyone else to have to put up with that either. I want to send a message to those living here or others who may be considering a move to Jackson Center and that message is we will maintain a clean, friendly, growing community, the kind of place we are proud to call home, and do whatever it takes to keep it that way. We also want those who own properties here but live elsewhere to understand the lack of acceptable property maintenance will no longer be tolerated. We have been lenient with some property owners in the past, but things are going to change very soon for the betterment of all concerned,” Klopfenstein said.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.
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