MINSTER – Five Second Street residents affected by May 17 flooding in a construction site were told at the Tuesday night meeting of the Minster Village Council that a class action lawsuit might be necessary to cover any damage costs over the limit of their homeowners insurance.
Village Administrator Don Harrod said Mike Strohl of Stolle Insurance had ruled the village insurance provider Ohio Plan, whom Strohl represents, was not liable for flood damages to the homeowners because the heavy rains were an act of God, not a result of negligence on the part of the contractor or the village.
Harrod said he had been disappointed in the insurance company ruling and asked the insurance carrier Ohio Plan to reconsider their decision. In response, the insurance company hired a forensic engineer to look over the damages. He said they are still waiting for the engineer’s final report.
Resident Lisa Goebel questioned the “act of God” decision rather than contractor negligence because only from people in the Second Street construction project turned in claims to Bernhold Insurance for the damages after the five-inch rain that night. She also said there were some homeowners affected who had not yet turned in claims at all, fearing that their insurance rates would go up.
Council listened without action to suggestions from Ed Goebel and Craig Sherman to make the homeowners whole. It was requested that the village join the neighborhood in pursuing some sort of negotiation with the contractor rather than resorting to a lawsuit. It was also suggested some sort of reduction of their 10-year assessments would compensate them for the damages.
Other attempts to cover homeowner damages were tried in the past. For example, in earlier council meetings the residents had been asked to turn in uncovered expenses that the village could send to their insurance provider, but the coverage was denied. Other actions for assistance the village suggested was filing for FEMA assistance, but the federal government ruled in favor of having the Small Business Administration offer low interest loans instead.
In other business, Councilman Craig Oldiges said that the Community Center Committee had set a public meeting for Aug. 7 at 7 p.m. at the Halls of Hanover to receive input on the idea of building a new $600,000 Community Center near the public school complex. At the July 2 meeting the council declined to act on a committee request to put a .25 mill earned income tax levy on the November ballot to pay for it.
Harrod reported on the progress of three village projects.
He said Helms and Sons Excavating continues to work on the Second Street project, installing the large sanitary sewer down Second Street. He said the contractor was at a point where they are ready to cross Main Street with the sewer, but will delay that crossing so they can go back to work between Frankfort and Lincoln to finish water lines and storm lines and prepare that section of road for curb, gutter and asphalt so that it can be completed before Oktoberfest.
Harrod also said Buehler Asphalt is expected to be in this week to begin the 2019 minor street resurfacing program. They will complete Ohio Street and Seventh Street at this time and come back at a later date to do the intersection of Fourth and Main Street.
Finally, he reported that all of the contracts for the painting of the Ohio Street water tower have been executed and returned to the village. He is waiting for word from Worldwide Industries on when they may start the project.
In other action, Council voted in favor of a first reading of a resolution to approve the Auglaize County Solid Waster Management District’s Amended Solid Waster Management Plan.
They agreed to a resolution to set a date place and time for a public hearing to consider changes to the official zoning code and zoning map of the Village. Harrod said the earliest time would be in October 2019.
Council also approved a motion to approve the revised schedule for the school to use the practice football field.
They also accepted the Income Tax report for June 2019 of $487,425 and receipt of $2,227,001.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.