President of Council Kathy McNear called Council to order on June 6, 2007
at 7:00 p.m.
The governmental body and those in attendance recited the pledge of allegiance.
Mr. Knox took roll call. Present were Council members Danbury, Galster, Harlow, Squires, Vanover, Wilson and McNear.
The minutes of May 16, 2007 were not available. Mr. Knox stated in reviewing the minutes of April 4, 2007, it was noted that Ordinance 22-2007 had had an emergency clause added but the minutes dont reflect that. To correct that we put the right information in there.
Mr. Danbury made a motion to adopt and Mr. Wilson seconded. The motion passed with seven affirmative votes.
Mr. Knox read four communications:
Thank you for your letter and City resolutions against HB 154 and SB 117. As you know, HB 154 was introduced on April 17. This bill would abolish Mayors Courts and create community courts. I am supportive of Mayors Courts and will continue to watch the progress of this bill. If it comes to the Senate I will be sure to express your thoughts and mine to my fellow senators. Substitute Bill 117 (cable) was voted out of Senate with a vote of 29-4. I voted in opposition to the bill in both committee and on the Senate floor. I believe there are provisions in the bill that still need to be dealt with. Substitute Bill 117 has now been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration. You may want to convey your concerns to Representative James Raussen (which we did). Please feel free to contact my office further regarding this or any other State issue. Robert Schuler, State Senator, Seventh District
Thank you for your letter containing the resolutions from the City of Springdale. At this point in time I am neither for nor against the bills that you find yourselves in opposition to. In regards to HB 154 its my understanding that Representative
Wolpert is still meeting with interested parties to modify his bill (Mayors Court). As it is currently stated I am generally opposed to the bill unless it goes through dramatic changes and in this case I would be happy to keep you aware of these editions. Senate Bill 117 has generated a lot of interest from our district in both agreement and opposition. In following this bill through Senate I have found that the bill has undergone changes that the media has not publicized. Because of this I have included the most recent version of the bill which is now Substitute Bill 117. Please feel free to look at this version and let me know how you receive it. I would be happy to continue to be in contact with you as this bill progresses. Thank you again for alerting me as to where your support lies on these bills. I will keep your thoughts in my mind as I continue to advocate for the community. Jim Raussen, State Representative, 28th District
I received the resolutions adopted by the City of Springdale regarding the Citys opposition to HB 154 and SB 117. I appreciate your concern for these issues. Please note that I appreciate the work being done by Ohios local governments in keeping our communities well governed and safe. As you are likely aware, HB 154 was introduced by Representative Larry Wolpert, a Republican of Hilliard on April 17, 2007 and assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. Furthermore, Substitute Senate Bill 117 was passed by the Senate on May 9 and is now being heard in the House Public Utilities Committee. Please know that as this bill continues to move through the legislative process I will work towards the best possible solution for all Ohioans. Be assured that as both of these bills are discussed in the House, I will be mindful of the City of Springdales concerns. Again, thank you for sharing these resolutions with me. If I can be of further assistance, please contact my office. John Husted, 37th District, Speaker of the House
Thank you for your resolution opposing SB 117, the cable television competition bill. I received a number of such resolutions. Because they all read similarly I hope you will forgive me sending you my recent e-mail to Delhi Township by way of response. It is simply untrue that you will be losing fifteen to twenty percent of your cable franchise fees under this bill. (Mr. Knox said, If you remember, Representative Raussen said there had been changes made. One of the changes made was after we made this letter. So in fact, we will still lose three to five percent which is an appreciable amount of money.) You will continue to get five percent of the cable companies revenue from providing cable service and from cable ad sales revenue (which is not entirely true because we would not be receiving five percent from the shopping networks.) You would not get the franchise fee or late payments by customers or home shopping network or maintenance repair work fees or fees on fees, five percent times the revenue plus five percent fee. But I very much doubt that you get this now, or if you do, it is insignificant in nature. In fact, I believe your cable revenues would go up, not down, because you would also get the franchise fee on any phone companys cable service that may develop. In other words, where now you only get franchise fees from one cable provider, this bill offers the chance to collect money from many without you doing any work at all. (I find this really strange because how many people are going to have two different cables coming into their house.) For communities like yours which are fully served by cable, concerns about build out to serve rural and low income areas makes no sense. Concerns about the loss of public access TV makes little sense to me either. Of the two access channels that are grandfathered, the bill requires that at least two remain in the basic tier of basic services. Many of the local communities who have now written to me dont have more than two such channels anyway. Nothing in the bill affects your ability to regulate your rights-of-way and the bill expressly allows you to audit the franchise fee payments at least once a year. Frankly, I doubt that many area communities audit even that frequently. For those reasons I think the benefit of fostering competitions in the cable company monopoly far outweighs any negative in the bill. Bill Seitz, Majority Whip, State Representative, 30th House District
Mr. Knox said if I may comment to that one, we can audit anyone of the competitive cable companies at our expense once a year. Once the audit is complete, if we dont agree with it, then we have to go to the Director of Commerce and the Director of Commerce will have to find that theres reason to go to the Common Pleas Court, and then wed have to go to court to get anything we didnt think was correct, which as they well know, if they dont take at least fifty percent of the money it wouldnt be worth it to us. This is so loaded on the side of cable companies it is absolutely unreal. Im still working on what the bill still has and anyone who would like a copy, I will be happy to make it for them.
Mr. Danbury said when you shared this information with us two months ago, two things I believe were in your fact findings, were a new provider would not pay any franchise fee.
Mr. Knox replied not to us. They would pay $2,000 to the Director of Commerce and in case of an addition to that they would pay $100. The way it is written, the Director of Commerce must come back to them within ten days saying they didnt like the application. If you introduce something on December 23rd, how do you think your staff is going to get done with those within ten days.
Mr. Danbury said so the City wont get franchise fees.
Mr. Knox replied we will get fees almost equivalent to what we are getting from Time-Warner. But in order to get those fees, even ignoring the audit situation, we have to determine how much each cable company owes us, and then tell them. Right now Time Warner does a very truthful and honest method of computing this and just sends us the money. If this goes through we will have to do all the mathematics and send a letter to them.
Mr. Danbury said you talked about the ability to regulate rights-of-way. Hes saying that nothing in the bill affects your right to regulate rights-of-way. Thats not what I understood.
Mr. Knox responded thats true now. Substitute Bill 117 removed those clauses. So many municipalities found offensive that they just took it out.
Mayor Webster said Bill Seitz makes no mention at all of where he comes down on the Mayors Court issue. I think just the tone of his letter is pretty evident of how he feels on the issue. I think its very refreshing to hear that Bob Schuler sees both issues the way we do. I have had a personal conversation with Mr. Raussen and I know that he is not in favor of doing away with Mayors Courts. Hes very adamant about that but at the same time, he realizes that there are some small communities that take advantage of the fact that they can set up speed traps in their communities and balance their budgets on speeding tickets. Thats wrong and thats the energy that feeds this whole issue. I think there has to be some middle of the road resolution there. It makes no sense to anyone that you would do away with a court the size of ours or Blue Ashs or Sharonvilles, but something should be done about these little burgs that balance their budgets on the backs of speeders. I think the cable thing is probably a done deal but I think the Mayors Court issue is DOA.
Mr. Vanover asked did you all receive this Walter and Haverfield LP? Its in reference to Bill 117. It points out some of the weaknesses. Despite amendments and substitutes in Bill 117 there are still serious problems with the bill. Senate Bill Substitute Bill still permits incumbent cable operators to abandon current franchise agreements even without competition without violation of the Ohio/US Constitution. It legalizes redlining or cherry-picking.. The banking institute has been criticized, chastised, fined and penalized on redlining to no end and I cant imagine that they would allow another utility to operate in a like manner. The revenues are included in the franchise calculation fees. They still fall short of what many of the municipalities receive today. It still severely limits your ability to audit franchise fee payments and it allows some PEG channels to be moved off the basic tier and they may be reclaimed if they are placed on the upper tiers by the cable providers. It terminates all franchise based funding for public education access and allows cable operators to terminate all institutional networks obligations under the current franchise at the end of the franchise or January 1, 2012, whichever comes first. It fails to provide for appropriate local enforcement of customer service standards.
Mr. Vanover said I got an e-mail from TVforyou.com which is one of the supporters in the advertising campaigns pushing this and theyre still not truthful on what the actual bill is. Theyre playing a game of semantics and that irritates me.
Mr. Knox said its very unusual for me to receive a call from a resident but one called giving us full support in both of these endeavors (opposing those two bills.)
COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE - none
HOMETOWN FAMILY FOURTH - - Parks & Recreation
Greg Karle stated we have an exciting new event planned for the 4th of July. There were concerns about crowd control and public safety. It was no longer providing the desired goal of a wholesome, fun family-oriented even. We are eliminating the gambling, rides, and vendors. Hometown Family Fourth will be a one day event beginning at 6 p.m. on July 4th and conclude with the fireworks around 10:30 p.m. We do encourage families to come early to swim in the pool and picnic. We will have traditional picnic games such as cornhole and horseshoes. We will still have fund raisers, and food and soft drinks will be available.
Sharon Casselman said this is not a reformat. This is a new event. It will focus on family activities and the community. We hope to have unique activities such as free face painting, hair painting, sand art, tattoos, stilt walking, hot air balloon rides, bounce houses, living Vietnam Veteran Statue and a band. We have taken on a very ambitious marketing plan. There are activities every day for forty days.
Jackie OConnell said we wanted to make sure everyone knew this was a new event. We printed a new logo. We knew we had to get the word out and I think we have accomplished that with the Forty Days to the Fourth. Some of the activities we have are Sneak Peek Monday. Every Monday we have some entertainment that will be at the event come in for an hour. Thursday is button-up Thursday. If you wear your button Thursday you will be able to enjoy a free perk, such as a hot dog or free day at the pool. Fridays are Free Friday Fourth Freebie days. The first Friday we gave out the wrist bands. Saturdays are Free Family Fun Days at the Pool. We will have different activities on the six Saturdays before the 4th. We usually have a game, an activity and a craft. On June 26 we are having BYOB (bring your own banana) for a free banana split. Wednesday is free coffee day.
Gregg Karle said the entire department is involved in making this event happen. Please support us. Also on the agenda for this summer are the womens softball tournament 7/21 & 7/22, yard sale on 8/11, Cincinnati Civic Orchestra on 8/5, Springdale Summer Cruise In on 8/25 and Taste of Springdale on 9/15.
Mayor Webster said I dont know how successful this will be but you guys have done a tremendous job. Also, the Veterans Memorial Golf Outing will be on September 12 at Walden Pond.
HAMILTON COUNTY PARKS - Al Winstel
Mr. Winstel reported we started with a new format for our visitors guide and The Evergreen, our activities newsletter that comes out every three months. We have a relatively new program called The University of the Great Outdoors. It is oriented more towards physical activity, canoeing, kayaking, salsa dancing. There are several changes going on at Sharon Woods. They are redoing the harbor play area. They have done some upgrading at Lakeside Lodge and we are working on a new entrance to the village.
Mr. Vanover asked has the park district linked up with the Ohio Department of Agriculture to get information out on the emerald ash borer.
Mr. Winstel replied we have talked to some groups and we have a poster. There has been a lot of newspaper publicity about this. There are no magical cures or solutions. It sounds pretty much like treat your tree forever or cut it down.
Mr. Osborn asked how long after you send the form in when you buy a park pass until you receive the coupons.?
Mr. Winstel responded those go through a service and it takes about four weeks.
Mr. Winstel replied we will bring it up to some groups.
Mr. Danbury asked is there any thought of expanding the bank fishing areas? There are limited places and with a lot of people there it is not a lot of fun.
Mr. Winstel said there is a park called Campbell Lakes on the west side of the city. Thats a relatively new place with less people. I have always been told that one reason they control bank fishing is because of erosion. Sharon Woods has a senior citizen/childs area which is a wooden deck which helps with the erosion problem.
Mrs. McNear said there are incredible classes and information in the brochure. Thank you for coming.
ORDINANCES AND RESOLUTIONS
ORDINANCE NO. 33-2007 AUTHORIZING THE MAYOR AND CLERK OF COUNCIL/FINANCE DIRECTOR TO ENTER INTO AN AGREEMENT WITH TEC ENGINEERING, INC., FOR THE PROVISION OF PROFESSIONAL SERVICES FOR THE OPERATIONS AND MAINTENANCE OF THE CITY OF SPRINGDALES CLOSED LOOP TRAFFIC CONTROL SYSTEMS AND DECLARING AN EMERGENCY
Mr. Vanover made a motion to adopt and Mrs. Harlow seconded.
Mr. Danbury asked is our traffic loop coordinated with Sharonvilles closed loop system or any of the other surrounding cities?
Mr. Shvegzda replied no, its not. TEC provides Springdales and CDS does Sharonvilles.
Mr. Osborn stated we do collaborate with Fairfield on the Springfield Pike corridor but we are not physically linked.
Ordinance 33-2007 passed with seven affirmative votes.
OLD BUSINESS - none
Mr. Osborn said the Planning Commission on May 8 recommended some changes to the Springdale Zoning Code relating to penalties so we would ask Council to set a public hearing date for this issue. This is critical to our further efforts to enforce the Zoning Code. There are other actions that we are also taking but this a core factor because it does allow us to escalate repetitive violations beyond minor misdemeanor. Minor misdemeanors are not citable in Mayors Court. They are a payout by state law so a person can violate the Zoning Code and never have an obligation greater than a payout. In some cases I think it is treated as a cost of doing business. We would like the ability to ramp up repeated violations of the Zoning Code into fourth, third and second degree misdemeanors.
Mr. Osborn continued another thing we are trying to do to enhance code enforcement in the community is to create a hotline in the Building Department. That number is 346-5734. We will promote this through press releases and articles in our newsletter. In the newsletter we will have a continuing column tallying how many violations of the Zoning Code or Property Maintenance Code have been issued to date to show people that you are not the only one getting a letter from the City. We will also be doing other promotions such as magnets with the hot line number on it. If someone has a complaint, that person can call in anonymously or give their name and address if they chose and pass an issue on to us. The phone line will be answered during business hours on the desk of the administrative assistant in the Building Department. When that person is away from her desk or after hours, it will go to a recording specifically set up for this purpose and invite people to file their information with us. We would prefer that a person leave contact information in case we need additional information or we want to get back to the party and let them know the outcome. If a person feels uncomfortable doing that we will investigate anonymously.
Mrs. McNear said an additional magnet stating what you need a permit for might be helpful.
Mr. Osborn responded we could run articles in the newsletter and we have brochures that we hand out.
Mayor Webster said this hotline came about as a result of a meeting we had with Mr. Galster and a few other people just trying to explore ideas on how we could strengthen the housing code. I suggested we come up with something similar to the neighborhood watch program where we use the eyes and ears of the community to help the Building Department become aware of deteriorated housing, vacant housing, tall grass, etc. This may lead us to the point where we may need more building inspectors. This is just one of the many things we are trying to do to improve the housing stock in the City of Springdale.
Mr. Vanover asked do we have anything on the website about permits? I think this hotline is a good idea.
Mr. Osborn said we are currently discussing the occupancy level of some of our single family homes. Its gotten to the point in some cases where a business might rent a property and then house workers there almost like a dormitory approach. We are looking at revising the Code requirements concerning occupancy loads permitted not just on bedrooms, but the total square footage of the house itself. It is easier for us to predict that number than it is how many bedrooms there are. That will probably be coming before you in a month or so.
Mr. Knox reported the Beacon Hills/Oxford Hills Association held a meeting on May 20. Dr. Richard Goetz was elected acting president. The association was then disbanded and the money in the treasury, $1,789.91, is being donated to the Veterans Memorial Committee. One request is that if there are pavers they want a big brick.
Mayor Webster said the two biggest problems we have in housing is that we have too many people or the house is vacant. Also, I drove around the City and made some notations of homes that needed attention, especially grass. I was pleasantly surprised when I turned the list into the Building Department that they were aware of every one of the issues and they were in various states of enforcement. The hotline will allow residents to check on the status of an eyesore in their neighborhoods.
Mr. Wilson said I was ecstatic when I learned of this check. This is one of the larger donations we have received over the years. I want to publicly thank the Beacon Hills/Oxford Hills Association for this donation. We will recognize them at the appropriate time.
Mr. Vanover said the foot traffic on Chesterdale Road is non-stop and the sidewalks are posted closed. I know at some point it actually gets shut down but fortunately construction is staying on one side and they can bounce back and forth.
Mr. Osborn replied we are having the same situation on Kenn Road. They are supposed to maintain one side of the sidewalk as operational at any given time. That has not happened. For the last six to seven weeks there have been no sidewalks but we still have pedestrians and they still cross in the pedestrian area. I checked with the Police Chief today to see if there had been any complaints at all from the general population of the community or the crime watch groups we have in Heritage Hills and The Willows and there have been none. I think there will be a certain amount of people walking across the bridge. We dont think there is any necessity to intervene at this point with some sort of City funded transportation system. Weve not had any requests from anybody.
Mr. Vanover said they have been working primarily on the east side of the bridge and even though the other is posted sidewalk closed, its still untouched. Pedestrian/motorist interface hasnt presented a problem. At some point we know that is going to be a problem and we can make ODOT aware.
Mr. Osborn stated we have made that point strongly to ODOT. The City Engineer has repeated it more than once. We had a group attend a public hearing and that was one of the focus points we had for them. We are very disappointed with their failure to have any sensitivity to this issue. There is something called environmental justice obligation on the part of the State of Ohio as the sponsor of the project to make provisions for any negative impact a project would have on a protected class of persons, low income as an example. Certainly we have people of modest means living in some of those apartments at The Willows and we felt certain there would be an obligation on the part of the State to do something about it. They have chosen not to take up the issue.
Mr. Vanover said the decision to close the main driveway there was excellent. It created a little anxiety for the owners of the property there.
Mr. Osborn said the reason they did is that ODOT failed to even approach them and tell them they were going to shut down the driveway.
Mr. Vanover responded we might want to think about posting signage at the other driveway. Overall the flow of traffic has worked very well.
Mr. Osborn said we have had one complaint regarding the time it takes to cycle through. I think people are showing a great deal of patience in living with this situation.
Mrs. McNear asked I wonder if some of the foliage can be cut back as you are driving southbound on SR 4 trying to take I-275 eastbound. Then you could see the traffic that is coming down the hill from Forest Park.
Mr. Parham requested legislation for the next meeting for participation in MRVMA. We do this on an annual basis to assist us with our workers compensation rates.
MEETINGS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
Planning Commission - June 12, 2007
Board of Zoning Appeals - June 19
COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE - none
Mr. Danbury made a motion to go into executive session as a meeting of the whole to discuss economic development and personnel matters. Mr. Galster seconded. The motion passed with seven affirmative votes.
Council went into executive session at 8:35 p.m. and reconvened at 9:18 p.m.
Mrs. Harlow made a motion to reject the fact finders report on the firefighters contract. Mr. Danbury seconded. The motion passed with seven affirmative votes.
UPDATE ON LEGISLATION STILL IN DEVELOPMENT
Tax Budget - June 20
Zoning Code public hearing - July 18
RECAP OF LEGISLATIVE ITEMS REQUESTED
MVRMA - June 20
Council adjourned at 9:20 p.m.
Edward F. Knox
Clerk of Council/Finance Director
Kathy McNear, President of Council
City of Springdale Council
June 6 2007