SIDNEY – The Sidney City Council discussed potential changes to the current grass ordinance at Monday night’s workshop session regarding shorter height requirements and fees for overgrown vegetation, grass and noxious weeds.
Code Enforcement Officer Kirby King gave council an overall summary on current fees, violation procedures and community comparisons on average size residential and commercial unattended properties that the city mows. Weed enforcement season is March 1 through Dec. 31., with the maximum grass length currently at 12-inches. Fees now range from $50 to $100, for up to the first three offenses, plus contractor cost.
“People say it’s cheaper to let (the city) do it than to do it themselves,” Mayor Mike Barhorst said. “And if they are relying on us to take care of their problem for them, we aught to be collecting for it.”
The city is considering raising the violation fees to encourage property owners to maintain their lots. Most members agree on changing the ordinance to lower the maximum grass length from 12 to 8-inches, which would not take affect next season on Jan. 1.
Barhorst asked Community Services Director Barbara Dulworth to gather more information on contractor and administration fees with the added escalated rate to make effective changes in the legislation drawn-up by Law Director Jeffrey Amick.
Immediately prior to the workshop session, Sidney City Council held a special meeting to adopt a resolution authorizing City Manager Mark Cundiff to enter into a collective bargaining agreement with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
The resolution provides a 1.5 percent wage increase for 2016, retro back to Dec. 27, 2015, a 1 percent wage increase for 2017, and a no wage increase for 2015.
IT Manager Joel Glass gave council a presentation of statistics on the city’s website and social media presence since its inception from March 2014. Other than its website, the City of Sidney is on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Currently, Sidney’s Facebook page has over 3,000 page “likes” and it is “continuing to incline.” Glass said that Facebook was used to notify the public and reach over 70,000 users to help locate a missing teen recently, as with other informational posts such as construction updates.
Council also discussed the transfer of a liquor license from Woody’s Market to Gallery 2 Ten, at 684 Fair Road. Council member Steve Wagner inquired about the capacity in which the licence would be used, expressing some uncomfort with the unknown of whether it is a liquor establishment or not. Council believes Gallery 2 Ten to be an art gallery that wants to serve alcohol during events, and so they need a liquor licence to do so. After the clarification, and an explanaition that a background check was conducted presenting no reason to prevent the transfer, the board was silent, indicating Gallery 2 Ten was free to proceed forward with applying for the license.
Further discussions surrounded the annual liquor permit renewals. Council saw no reason to prevent renew of any permits. During a the annual alcohol review, as Police Captain Tangeman indicated, “nothing alarming or unusual was noted.” Only one establishment had more than 10 calls for service with a total of 21; this “is not an inappropriate number,” Cundiff said. Council exhibited silence on the matter; thus allowing current permit holders to renew.
The request presented at a previous council meeting, for an amendment of parking for the prosecuter’s office by Prosecutor William Zimmerman Jr. was revisited. Zimmerman requested parking passes or exemption from being ticketed during some days he is in court.
Five members were willing to amend the parking ordinance by giving one pass to the prosecutor’s office only on grand jury dates.
In other business, Dulworth said there will be no planning commission meeting on the agenda for May 16, but it is not yet known if there will be an upcoming zoning board meeting. Trupoint will be seeking their expansion again in the next meeting, but all members must be present if they meet since they were deadlocked during the last meeting when voting on the request.
At the end of the meeting, Cudiff made a couple of announcements including a reminder about Mayfest Soccer Week kicking-off this weekend at Tawawa Park. And lastly, he proudly displayed the large environmental grant check awared to the city by DP&L last Friday. Sidney, along with Centerville was awarded $50,000 and a tree as apart of the Right Tree, Right Place program. Funds will be used to “enhance the landscape by planting utility-friendly trees.”
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