Two highly debated properties – the proposed site of a new elementary/middle school and the former Q3 JMC Inc. property – were discussed during Tuesday’s Urbana City Council meeting.
Director of Administration Kerry Brugger informed council that Urbana City Schools recently submitted its application to the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) for the conditional use of the school district-owned property off Community Drive for the planned construction of a pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade school building.
“The application for the conditional use has indications of Community Drive being extended and Boyce Street being extended,” Brugger said. “That’s the direction the school is moving forward with.”
As for the two access points to the proposed site of the school, the city has expressed concerns over Boyce Street being used since it was designed as a residential street. The city recommended instead of extending Boyce Street, the school district should extend Washington Avenue, which Superintendent Charles Thiel has stated would cost significantly more to do than Boyce Street.
Council President Marty Hess said the city tried recently to work something out with the school district concerning the Washington Avenue extension, but nothing came of it.
“We said we don’t know how to do it, but we’d like to look into it to see if we can use (Washington Avenue) because the administration thinks that might be a better way to get in and out,” Hess said. “We did try to extend our hand to see if we could get that worked out and it didn’t happen.”
Brugger added the BZA will consider the request for conditional use during its next meeting at 6 p.m. on Sept. 14 in the municipal building’s fire training room.
“Are the citizens who are going to be impacted by this extension of Boyce Street going to have an opportunity to go to some venue and express their concerns about the additional traffic and what not on their street?” Council member Al Evans asked.
Community Development Manager Doug Crabill said only residences within 200 feet of the two parcels owned by the school district will receive a letter in the mail regarding the BZA meeting as per city ordinance, but a legal notice concerning the meeting will be published in the newspaper.
In regard to the abandoned Q3 JMC Inc. property at 605 Miami St., which went unsold during a sheriff’s sale on Wednesday, council waived the three-readings rule and passed on second reading an ordinance authorizing Brugger to submit a request to the Champaign County Board of Revision to transfer the 26 parcels located on the property to the city in order to facilitate reutilization of nonproductive land pursuant to Ohio Revised Code.
Brugger said the intent of the ordinance is to allow the city to take control of the property if it’s free and clear of all financial liens and taxes and assuming the city can obtain funding for the cleanup and remediation of the site.
“We are just trying to put ourselves in position to get decisions made as quickly as we can,” he said.
Council was informed the board of revision is scheduled to meet today to discuss the city’s request to have all the taxes on the property waived, thus allowing the city the opportunity to take control of the property and turn it back into productive use.
“I have a feeling they are not going to forgive the taxes,” Evans said.
When asked his opinion on the matter by Evans, Brugger responded by saying, “I believe if they (board of revision members) look at the big picture, I’d be hard pressed to understand why they wouldn’t (forgive the taxes).”
New rescue tools, future road work plans
Council waived the three-readings rule and passed on first reading a resolution authorizing the director of administration and/or fire chief to accept, on behalf of the city, the Assistance to Firefighters Grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in the amount of $57,620.
Fire Chief Mark Keller said the grant money, which includes a 5 percent match ($2,500) by the city, will be used to replace the fire division’s hydraulic rescue tools or “jaws of life.”
“We are kind of in a vulnerable situation right now because our current cutters will not cut newer vehicles because of the tensile strength they are made out of now,” he said. “This alleviates that problem.
“It also brings all of our equipment up to good working order, and it will make us a lot more efficient,” Keller added, noting the new equipment is less taxing on firefighters and should help to reduce injuries while on the job.
Council also heard the first readings of three resolutions involving pavement work on three separate roadways.
“ODOT is coming to us with a lot of legislation for future pavement projects, none of which are really in the city,” City Engineer Tyler Bumbalough said. “They all touch the city and go from our border out.
“One of the important things is there is no financial participation,” he added.
All three resolutions call for preliminary approval between the city and ODOT for pavement overlay of the following areas: U.S. Route 36 from Dugan Road to Ludlow Road (scheduled for 2020), U.S. Route 36 from the county line between Champaign and Miami counties to the western corporation limit of Urbana (scheduled for 2017), state Route 29 from the city’s eastern corporation limit to state Route 56, and state Route 54 from Hickory Grove Road to the city’s southern corporation limit near Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witness.
Bumbalough said he is working with ODOT to see if they can extend the pavement overlay project on state Route 54 to cover the first curve past Kingdom Hall.
“The police department has expressed concern with traction on that curve in wet weather,” he said.
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-652-1331 (ext. 1774) or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.