MECHANICSBURG – A proposed amendment to the village’s junk vehicle ordinance, which would have exempted utility trailers from being in violation if the only deficiency was the lack of a valid license plate, was voted down by Village Council on Monday with the deciding vote being cast by Mayor Greg Kimball.
The proposed change, which was presented to council May 1, was tabled after council member Jodi Compton asked that the amendment include a definition of utility trailer.
On Monday, Village Solicitor Joe Jimenez said he was unable to find a legal definition of a utility trailer. What he did discover, he said, was the Ohio Revised Code considers trailers to be motor vehicles for the purpose of vehicle licensing, and all motor vehicles driven on the road must have a license plate and validation sticker.
Jimenez said with no legal definition of a utility trailer available, council could elect to define one based on dimensions like size and weight limitations.
With no concrete definition being placed on the table for consideration, Compton made a motion not to amend the junk vehicle ordinance. Along with Compton, council members Scott Salee and Rae Ann Logan voted in favor of not amending the ordinance, while fellow members Charles Foss, Lori Tibbals and Todd Class voted no (were in favor of the amendment).
“The (original) ordinance we are talking about is one we all voted yes on, and no one has come up with a good way to revise it,” Compton said. “If anybody (on council) wants to revise it, then they need to write it and bring it here to us.”
As it currently stands, the village’s junk vehicle ordinance prohibits the storage of unlicensed and inoperable vehicles outside an enclosed structure for longer than 72 hours after receiving notification from the Mechanicsburg Police Department (MPD).
After the ordinance was passed and the MPD took to the streets to start enforcing it, village resident Paul Foss took the issue of utility trailers to council’s attention in early April. He had been notified by police that his utility trailer was in violation of the junk vehicle ordinance because it was unlicensed and stored outside.
At the time, Paul Foss stated his utility trailer was kept clean, in working order and was being stored on a back lot he owns behind his main residential property. He expressed concern that the MPD went onto his property without permission to see whether his utility trailer was properly tagged.
Jimenez stated then and again on Monday, that to his knowledge, an open yard doesn’t have the expectation of privacy that one’s home has, allowing law enforcement to enter an open yard without permission.
Renewal levy introduced
Council heard the first reading of a resolution seeking a 4-mill renewal levy for fire protection and emergency medical services (EMS) on the Nov. 7 ballot.
During the May 1 meeting, council passed on emergency basis a resolution seeking the county auditor to certify the total revenue the proposed renewal would generate.
On May 5, the village was notified by Champaign County Auditor Karen Bailey that the estimated property tax revenue generated by a 4-mill renewal levy, assuming the tax valuation remains constant throughout the term of the levy, would be $68,800.
Water project update
Village Administrator April Huggins-Davis shared with council what she referred to as “good news” in terms of acquiring funding for the village’s anticipated Water Distribution System Improvements Phase 1 Project.
While the village is awaiting final approval from the Ohio Water Development Authority on a 20-year loan in the amount of $982,212.07, Huggins-Davis said she was informed the initial interest rate of 3.53 percent has been lowered to 1.03 percent.
Fiscal Officer Dan Eck said the change in the interest rate would lower the village’s total payout over the length of the loan by $283,510.
If the loan is approved, the village anticipates crews will begin working this summer on replacing aging 6- and 8-inch water mains along West Main Street and High Street with 12-inch mains to help address water concerns at the Mechanicsburg Exempted Village Schools’ complex on High Street.
In other business:
•Huggins-Davis confirmed the Champaign County Board of Revision agreed to turn the deeds to 2 and 4 N. Main St. (located at the corner of North Main St. and East Sandusky Street) over to the village following the completion of a 30-day appeal process.
In a related matter, council heard the second reading of a resolution that would designate the Champaign Economic Partnership (CEP) as the community development organization designated to manage abandoned land the village receives from the Champaign County Sheriff through the county’s Board of Revision.
The resolution states such management of land by the CEP includes acting as the economic development corporation for industrial, commercial, distribution and research development within the village.
•The Mechanicsburg Farmers and Artisan Market will kick off its 2017 season on Tuesday, June 6. Located in the village-owned lot next to the municipal building on North Main Street, the market will be open from 4:30 to 6 p.m.
Lucinda Eddleman, manager of the market, said items scheduled to be available at the June event include pies, pretzels, eggs, breads, syrups, plants and crafts.
•Council was informed that one of the village’s traffic signals was destroyed by a semitrailer that clipped it recently during a windy day. The signal was replaced at a cost of $3,500, Huggins-Davis said.
The village’s other traffic signal, Huggins-Davis said, is “outdated” and in “bad shape.” The village was quoted an estimate of $2,500 to replace it.
•The village will attempt to flush fire hydrants beginning at 10 p.m. on Friday, May 19. The first planned attempt was cancelled on May 5 due to inclement weather, Huggins-Davis said.
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-508-2304 or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.