Council hears draft of comprehensive plan

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — A first draft of a five-year comprehensive plan for the city was presented to Sidney City Council during Monday evening’s workshop session.

Community Services Director Barbara Dulworth presented the plan that would guide the community for future action. It was drafted from compiled information after extensive research and public input between October 2015 to the end of 2016. City council revisits the plan every five years.

Dulworth said a review of the information revealed a stagnant or declining population projection for Sidney over the next seven years; a reduction in funding from the state, personal property and estate taxes and cuts in local government funds; a decline in manufacturing jobs; the lifestyle trends of baby boomers and millennials; as well as details on the current political and economic landscape.

The public survey which informed the plan was available online or at one of the three public meetings from November 2015 to November 2016. As of December 2016, 805 people had completed the 17-question survey, which addressed solutions for downtown, neighborhoods and connectivity.

Approximately 56 percent of participants said they would like to see development occur in the downtown district. Surveyed residents said downtown has a poor image and a poor pedestrian walkway system. They said there is a lack of entertainment, eating and drinking facilities, uniform store hours, store diversity, patrons, communication among merchants and parking/parking signage in the downtown.

The plan’s identified solutions for downtown include pulling the riverfront into downtown, activating the alleyways, improving parking, modifying zoning of the business distinct, targeting demolition of buildings in disrepair and improving public-private partnerships. Downtown revitalization may be facilitated through various grants programs.

Some of the solutions listed for neighborhoods are aggressive enforcement of city codes, utilization of the land bank program, rental/vacant property registration, neighborhood associations and other grant programs.

Improved connectivity from one point in the city to another for business or recreation is an identified goal of the plan. To achieve this, the plan recommends accommodating motor vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians on streets; the water trail; and gateways into Sidney.

The comprehensive plan will be presented to the planning commission at its next meeting and again in April for further recommendations to city council before the first reading in May.

In other business, Vice Mayor Mardie Milligan questioned when a deteriorating light pole outside of Bunny’s Pharmacy on S. Main Avenue is scheduled to be replaced. Information on the exact time for replacement was not given but it was noted the replacement process is underway. Milligan also commented on the number of appliances being stored outside of Flint’s TV & Appliances on E. North Street. It was noted that it is a problem if appliances are stored outside for more than a day.

Mayor Mike Barhorst reported he will host a new weekly radio program every Tuesday at 9:10 a.m. on local radio station TAM 105.5. It will be called “Talk of the Town.”

City Manager Mark Cundiff said Graceland Cemetery burial fees will be increasing on April 1. The last time fees were adjusted was in 2012. The burial fee adjustment prompted a discussion on the increased number of indigent burial/cremations received. This refers to an Ohio law mandating the burial or cremation of a body at the townships’ or municipalities’ expense based on need. It was reported in 2016, Sidney received five burial/cremation requests, and so far this year the city has received seven requests.

Also, council reviewed the upcoming Zoning Board/Planning Commission agenda for Monday, March 13, and the prospective City Council agenda items for the next 30 days. Council held an executive session for a pending or imminent court action. No action was taken following the session.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.