Council considers Land Bank utilities, business sign relocation

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — Payment for unpaid utility bills for the Shelby County Land Reutilization Corporation (Land Bank) properties was discussed Monday evening by the Sidney City Council. Also, a request to relocate a business sign at a business on Wapakoneta Avenue was discussed during the meeting.

City Manager Mark Cundiff reminded council it adopted a resolution in May 2018 establishing policy guidelines in connection with the city’s interaction with the Land Bank. These guidelines established how city utility charges incurred prior to and after the Land Bank acquired a property could be waived by City Council action. Council has followed these guidelines previously when considering requests by the Land Bank to waiver city utility charges, he said.

The Land Bank submitted a request for waiver of utility charges for 50 properties totaling $39,665.97. A total of $9,835.83 of the charges was incurred by the owner prior to the Land Bank acquiring the property, while $29,830.14 was incurred after the Land Bank acquired the property.

Cundiff also highlighted the following information from the Land Bank on four properties which it thought the city would be interested in acquiring:

• Two of the properties (704/706 N. Main Ave., and 623/625 N. Miami Ave.) are adjacent drainage ways, and owning them would help in maintaining these waterways.

• Another property is located at 119 Franklin Ave. across from City Hall/police station parking lot, and the city may wish to control this property for possible future expansion.

• The remaining property is at 141 Wilkinson Ave. at the northwest corner of the state Route 47 and Wilkinson Avenue intersection. The city may wish to control this property for future state Route 47 safety improvements, such as for utilities or a roundabout, Cundiff noted.

The addition of more properties, he said, would add more for the city to maintain and could require the need for additional personnel in the parks department.

Cundiff said the guidelines state utility charges may be waived by City Council on a case by-case basis, but having separate legislation on all 50 properties would be time consuming and expensive. City staff recommended a motion by council to consider all the properties at once would be appropriate. Upon this recommendation, council voted to group together the fees for all of the 50 properties and bring legislation back on the matter for further consideration at future meeting.

Also Monday, council discussed granting a revocable license for a sign at Wellspace Therapeutics, 1130 Wapakoneta Ave.

Public Works Director Jon Crusey said Wellspace Therapeutics previously requested for placement of a business sign to be in front of its business. The request was denied, he said, because there is not sufficient room between the front of the building and the right-of way to locate a sign. Placing a sign on either side of the building behind the right-of-way line would provide very limited visibility.

Crusey noted the business Interiors by Alice, 1112 Wapakoneta Ave., which is across Bennett Street from the subject property, does have a sign in the front yard that appears to be located in the right-of way. After looking into it, he learned, its sign was granted for a temporary permit in 2013; staff could not find record of a permanent sign being granted.

The only way for a sign to be placed in front of this building is for City Council to vacate a section of right-of-way, grant a permanent easement, or authorize a revocable license. He said city staff believes a revocable license is the best option, if council is in favor of allowing a sign at this location, because it would preserve the existing right-of-way for any future street or utility projects.

Although some concern was expressed about granting this request could bring forth several other similar requests, after some brief discussion on the matter, city staff was directed to draft legislation on the request for further consideration at a future meeting.

In other business, City Council also canceled the Dec. 6 workshop session and regular Dec. 28 meeting, according to its December tradition. But due to it being an election year, a short special meeting was set for Dec. 6 to allow for council members to be sworn-in and a mayor and vice mayor chosen by members.

The following comments were made at the end of the meeting:

• Council member Jenny VanMatre asked about and was confirmed that skateboarding is not permitted on city sidewalks. She shared being notified by someone who was practically ran over by a skateboarder on a city sidewalk.

• Parks and Recreation Director Duane Gaier shared progress is being made with adding to the Canal Feeder Trail by obtaining a permit for moving forward

• Fire Chief Chad Hollinger shared the 25th anniversary of Fire Station 1 is on Oct. 27.

• Cundiff said leaf collection was to start on Monday, Oct. 25, and continue over the next several weeks. He also said the book sale at Amos Library is ongoing.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.