Botkins Council votes against zoning change

By Heather Willard -

BOTKINS — A proposal for a zoning change was brought before Botkins Village Council on Tuesday, Oct. 10. The lot in question is the old site of Cowboy’s Bar and Grill at 314 W. State St. in Botkins.

The property is currently owned by Jeff Billings, who is attempting change the current commercial zoning of the property to residential to allow him to rent the building as two apartments. The zoning board turned down his request on the grounds that the setback of the property on the west side and maximum coverage of the lot don’t meet regulations

Billings’ lawyer, Steve Geise, presented the appeal to the council, attempting to show the property did meet most requirements and the plans for the property are strong enough that council should allow the zoning change. He also said zoning in the area was so varied there was no reason for the the property to remain commercial.

“It’s all over the place,” he said. “I know what you said, but from a look at the area, it would make sense to have a double there.”

Audrey Gutman, who lives across the street from the lot, attended the meeting to represent the community.

“We want to be friendly neighbors,” she said, “Rental is kind of a revolving door, and we want to make sure our neighborhood is safe.”

Council members expressed their concerns during the discussion, ranging from the layout of the building to the precedence of allowing the zoning change without meeting the two requirements. Councilman Craig Brown noted the issue had come before the council before.

“We told you last year it wasn’t going to be approved,” he said.

The council voted against the zoning change with five against, and one, Nick Greve, for the change.

Village Administrator Randy Purdy then presented the council with the proposed fiscal year 2018 budget. The discussion surrounding the budget last for two hours, and resulted in several expenses cut.

Purdy reported they will finish off the year with about a $2.3 million balance. He reported next year is projected have an ending balance of just under $1.7 million. The deficit stems from several items the council is planning, including the purchase of a gator for the village’s landscaping crew, a redesign and launch of a new village website, building maintenance at the fire department, buckets for the backhoe and skid loader and a roller to be used at the ball fields and on minor asphalt street projects.

Several major expenses were removed from the budget, including a new pickup truck for the village, which was budgeted at $10,000, and much of the plans for maintenance at the fire department.

As predicted last year, the council was forced to start looking at raising water rates. They debated whether to raise both water and sewer rates this year, or stagger them to help ease the transition for residents.

In 2020, the council is looking at re-doing Lynn Street and getting backup pumps for the lift stations. They will also be continuing the sidewalk project. There are no capital projects planned for 2018.

The final budget will be provided to council on Nov. 7, and the first reading of the budget will take place at the Nov. 14 meeting. The first reading of the water fee ordinance will take place on Nov. 14 as well.

The council also took actions on village business, which were:

• Approved payment of the $27,429.90 for the Woodland Subdivision. Another bill will be on its way because of unexpected work that had to be done, but for the most part, the project is over.

• Approved sending $550 from the insurance reimbursement to the Jackson Center Police for their mutual aid.

• Voted to pass a resolution accepting the amounts and rates as determined by the budget commission and authorizing the necessary tax levies and certifying them to the county auditor.

• Accepted $6,000 for the Wilson building.

• Accepted $100 for use at the shelter building.

• Payment of $35,000 for Jones and Henry, who completed the engineering for the water treatment plant project.

Purdy also noted the sidewalk project is complete, with the total amounting to about $37,000. The council originally budgeted $40,000 for the project. The final item in his report was that the bids for the water treatment plant will be coming back on Oct. 31, which will help with budget planning.

The next Botkins Village Council meeting will be Tuesday, Oct. 31 at 7 p.m.

By Heather Willard

Reach the writer at 937-538-4825; Follow the SDN on Facebook and Twitter @sidneydailynews.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4825; Follow the SDN on Facebook and Twitter @sidneydailynews.