President of Council Randy Danbury called Council to order on September 2, 1998 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 Galster, Manis, McNear, Pollitt, Vanover, Wilson and Danbury.
The minutes of August 19, 1998 were approved with 7 affirmative votes.
Mr. Knox read an invitation for Michael Goekeís Eagle Court of Honor held on August 30, 1998.
Letter from Robert N. Sears dated August 19, 1998"I wanted to write a note to you and request that you read it at a city council meeting. To all city council members and members of the administration: Thank you for your kind words, the resolution and the beautiful plaque. I will treasure them always!
I must also say a few words about the City of Springdale. The elected and appointed officials of the city manage the best city in the state of Ohio. I was always proud to serve it. This is accomplished because each of you care deeply about city employees, the residential and business community and plan for the future of Springdale. Thank you for all the kindness showed to me as I retired."
COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE - none
Presentation of OCMA Career Achievement Award - Mike Burns, President, OCMA, City Manager of Indian Hill
Mike Burns said some of you know me as the City Manager of Indian Hill but I also am the president of OCMA, and tonight I am here in that capacity. OCMA is a professional association of over 200 local government administrators in Ohio. The primary purposes set forth in our constitution are: to contribute to the continuing improvement of local government in Ohio; to maintain and develop the professional competence of our members through discussion and exchange of information, ideas and experience; and to maintain and develop a relationship with organizations dedicated to the improvement of local government. Over the past few years the organization has established an awards program to recognize a select number of our members who have clearly exhibited a commitment to these purposes throughout their careers. At our June conference I had the pleasure of presenting my good friend and colleague, Cecil Osborn, with our most significant award, the Career Achievement Award. Cecil is a rare breed of manager who has actually been at the same community for just over twenty-four years. Thatís pretty significant in a profession where the average tenure is just under five years, and one can surmise that Cecil has done some things right here in Springdale and that he has a pretty good commitment to this community. Cecil also put in a year as Assistant City Manager in Wyoming. He was an intelligence officer in the Army. He has a bachelorís degree in political science and a masterís in public administration from the University of Cincinnati. I was quite pleased to be assigned the task of presenting this award to Cecil, not only because he is an easy person to say nice things about, but because he has been a good friend and confidant that Iíve used when Iíve needed help in solving problems and issues, and many other members of our association have similarly sought advice from Cecil on how to handle sensitive and difficult issues. Cecil has been a member of our association since 1973. He was on the executive board from 1989 to 1995 and served as president during 1993 and 1994. During that time he directed us through some very divisive issues, dealing with membership and the issue of lobbying from our association. He was instrumental in setting the associationís strategic planning process in motion. He established a minority internship program that has greatly benefited young interns and sponsoring communities. He has also been very active in the International City and County Management Association. He has previously led the Greater Cincinnati City Management Association. As you probably know, Cecil has served on a variety of Cincinnati area task forces and commissions. He continues to be an involved community leader here in Springdale and throughout the state of Ohio. He is also a pretty humble guy. When you ask him to describe the things heís most proud of he really doesnít focus on his professional achievements, but rather he talks about his family. He and Barb have collectively raised four children. Three of them, Emily, Brandon and Lisa have now graduated from college and are pursuing their own professional careers. Brittany will be a senior at Ohio State University this fall and Cecil and Barb have sacrificed quite a bit to get this group through school. This award is to tell you that we consider you to be a pretty skilled public administrator and we hope you can find a spot among your fishing memorabilia in your office to place this plaque.
Mr. Osborn said itís been a privilege and continues to be a privilege to serve the City of Springdale. The professionalism in this state has been a key factor in my success. The things Iíve learned from other members of the Ohio City Management Association and my colleagues throughout the country in ICMA have really given me the direction Iíve needed to answer a lot of issues that have come here locally. Itís a two way street. I really benefited a great deal from my participation in OCMA and as you pointed out, this is particularly an honor since I get to receive it from you, whom I consider to be one of my closest friends.
Mayor Webster said thank you, Mike, for the opportunity to share this with us because Cecil is a very modest individual and we would have never heard this had you not come to our meeting tonight. Iíd just like to ask you a question. Indian Hill has more deer than any other governmental agency throughout the Tri County area.
Mr. Burns said we did a census with a helicopter and the count was 580. We have been involved very actively in a program to cull that herd to a safe level. We reduce it every year by 200-240 that we know of.
Mayor Webster stated they are becoming more and more of a problem for our community. A Council member approached me this evening about what the City can do to help with this problem.
Mr. Burns replied we have a tremendous amount of open space and forests so we do operate a hunting program within that forested area which is very closely overseen by one of our rangers. Thereís a permitting process and communication process between any hunters and the rangers, and even with that we have encountered problems.
ICRC Presentation Ė Proposed Changes on Telecasting Council Meetings Ė Brad Stapleton
Mr. Stapleton said I am here to talk to you about a recent upgrade to the way we are videotaping your Council meetings. We are going from a single camera set-up to a three-camera set-up. By going to three cameras we can eliminate the zooming in and out, panning back and forth, and the focusing the viewers have to sit through now. Mr. Stapleton said they would mount three cameras around the room. The mounts would stay but the cameras would come and go. The cameras would be operated by one person in the back of the room. We have installed the mounts in six other communities and Loveland is up and running. We should have it up and running here in about 30 days. In response to Mr. Osborn, Mr. Stapleton said there would be a direct feed from the rear screen projector to the control panel so that there would be a direct digital feed of graphics rather than taking a picture of the screen.
Mr. Galster said the biggest complaint I have heard was about the audio.
Mr. Stapleton said the audio will be a feed from the main box to the control panel. I talked to the people who installed your sound system and weíll pay them to hook it up so we should get a clean feed.
Mr. Knox asked whatís the cost to us? Mr. Stapleton replied nothing.
Mr. Osborn said we will proceed with the installation. We wanted this to be presented to you this evening so youíd see what the hardware looks like.
ORDINANCE 59-1998 "AUTHORIZING THE MAYOR AND CLERK OF COUNCIL/FINANCE DIRECTOR TO EXECUTE THE SPECIAL COUNTY ARSON TASKFORCE MUTUAL AID CONTRACT AND DECLARING AN EMERGENCY"
This ordinance will have two readings with the emergency clause.
Ms. Manis said I have had several calls about the letters being handed out by the Building Department. A lot of people were upset and my response was maybe it could have been done another way. I can understand when you see houses around and it seems like nothing is being done about them and you feel like they are picking on you. Iíve been told that the letters are kind of cold. If we have a property maintenance inspector, whatís the harm in knocking on some of the doors and talking about the problem. You canít ignore them because they are breaking the law based on our code but maybe thereís another way we could go about doing it.
Since the last meeting the house on Balsam has been bothering me as far as the BZA approval. I think it sets a bad precedent. I think we need to look at a way we need to do these things. It seems like people who come in and have already had things done get a variance, yet weíre extremely critical of people coming in wanting less. It doesnít seem like itís the proper way to do things. The guy on Balsam built a garage in his back yard, then came in and got approval. Then he built a driveway and came in and got approval. If someone had come in the first time, Iím sure we would not have given them a variance. It happens a lot with sheds, air conditioners, etc.
Ms. Pollitt said I also share Ms. Manisí concern and I also had some phone calls. I havenít seen the letters and would like to see a copy of the letters. I had three phone calls on one particular situation.
Mr. Osborn said keep in mind that we have a new employee that we are putting in the field to try to play catch up on a lot of this work. The expectation was there that we would get some of this reaction from the community. Once you start telling people they did something wrong, they have to change, or you have to ask them to alter their property to benefit the community, you are going to get some resistance. I think the letter is a fairly straight-forward, business-type letter. I think some individual contact is attempted but primarily, on a sweep like this, there are hundreds of letters that were sent out. I canít tell you that it would be impossible, but given the volume of work weíre asking this individual to try to cover, individual attention to every violation in terms of a personal visit, wouldnít be beneficial in trying to get as much enforcement accomplished as we can. If you know of any complaints where we have misinterpreted the code or inadvertently cited someone who shouldnít have been cited, we will be glad to take care of that. And if people have concerns about other properties in their neighborhoods, if we havenít already given them notice, bring it to our attention and weíll take care of that situation as well. The overall objective is to make sure that the housing stock in this community is maintained at a very livable level that will not erode the property values of the neighbors. I think itís a very justifiable and beneficial program to the community. I think we have to be prepared to accept certain criticism from some of those folks who may be a very good member of the community but who has a minor property maintenance code violation that we have to address. We have not made any exceptions. Even a former mayor got a notice for the same violation.
Mayor Webster stated we talked about this before. The housing code is a difficult section of the code to enforce. Weíre not dealing with criminals. Most of the people want to keep their property up and abide by all of the codes. In all due respect, to all the people who got the letters on the garbage cans, I think it was probably just not being aware that there was a code that said you should keep your cans out of view from the street. If the letters come across cold and hard we can certainly look at the language. I donít think itís practical to ask the Building Department to make personal contact with the residents to ask them to correct the problem before we send the letter. Most of the calls I have gotten deal more with "Iím going to take care of my problem but what about that house down the street." I think itís a legitimate complaint and every time someone has said that to me Iíve tried to go out and personally see what the person is talking about. If I canít personally, I make sure the Building Department does know that and we follow up. I have a couple of rental houses in the City and I have gotten letters for the same thing. The tenants have to conform or move out.
Mr. Wilson said I have read the letter that was sent out because it was sent to me. I came in and talked with Barbara, Betty Webb and Bill McErlane because I wanted to know if my trash can is in violation. Bill pulled out the ordinance that was passed in 1988. It says "if the trash can can be seen from the front of the house." My trash can is on the side of the house behind the hedges. You cannot see my trash can from straight across the street. If you go up the street and look at an angle you can see the trash can. The ordinance says from the front of the house so I am not in violation.
Mr. Osborn replied prior to 1988 the ordinance indicated you couldnít have garbage cans in your side yard. The decision was made to allow them in the side yard as long as they were properly screened. If the language is as you say, then maybe we need to change the language because I know that the intent was that you would not be able to see trash cans from the public street. They would have to be out of sight.
Mayor Webster said if I were an inspector I would have sent you a letter based on my interpretation of the ordinance.
Ms. Pollitt said most of the residents who called me did not have a complaint in complying with the ordinance once they were made aware of it. I did have a lot of calls about how could someone get a letter about garbage cans when one house is in such disrepair. I had also brought that house to the attention of the Administration back in the summer and nothing was getting done. I am concerned that the neighbors felt they were being picked on in light of the other residence on the street.
Mayor Webster said when we put the budget together for 1998 we requested that we add a property maintenance inspector. Mr. Ron Smith has only been on the job a few weeks so we have not had the staff that is necessary to properly enforce this ordinance and thatís why we asked for the position. When I went around to judge the landscaping awards I saw some beautiful yards. On the other hand, I was somewhat embarrassed by some of the houses and yards and some of the things I saw in the City. If any of you ever have the time to take 16-20 hours to drive up every street and cul-de-sac, I think you would have a better appreciation of why we need the housing code. You canít hire an inspector and tell him to enforce A, B, and C but donít do D, but E and F are important. Fortunately or unfortunately, the garbage cans are part of that code. I think itís a very positive thing as I think we need to shield those from the street.
Mr. Vanover said Iíve had some calls myself. My biggest concern is that the City has some flexibility with people who are trying to get the work done and need time to get it completed.
Mr. Knox said two years ago I got a letter myself and it cost me over $4,000 to comply with it. These things do happen. It is difficult for some coming up with the money. However, some people just arenít keeping up and it hurts the rest of us.
Mrs. McNear said I told my husband two years ago that heíd better finish painting the house or weíre going to get a letter from the City. He lucked out that summer but we got it the next summer. Thanks very much for helping me get my house painted.
Mr. Danbury said people are going to think weíre deadbeats because I got a letter too. I donít want to make light of this issue because I heard the same complaints from a lot of people. I emphasize with them. I was dinged just like them and I supported it. It cost me $3,000. I knew I needed a new roof on my old house. It was the impetus for me to get the ball rolling. People who ask how come me and why not someone else, donít know if their neighbor got a letter. I think Mr. Vanover was correct when he said some of these things do cost a lot of money and people may not have an additional $5,000 to get a new roof or siding, etc. Thereís one house in my area that I know the person cannot afford to take care of matters in a quick manner, but what the Mayor was saying if we have a code, we have a code. Maybe we can work with people.
Mayor Webster read the ordinance which states "where containers are kept in a side yard, such containers shall be blocked from view from the street . . ." It doesnít say anything about standing in front of your house.
Ms. Manis said I donít think anybody up here was saying we shouldnít enforce the code. Itís just the manner in which it is being enforced. I would like to see a copy of the letter. I have been told that it says "you are in violation of Ö and if itís not corrected you will be cited to court."
Mr. Danbury said I think it needs to be pointed out why we have these codes. If just a few residents start letting their houses go down itís going to detract from the neighborhood. Someone may say garbage cans wonít detract but once it goes there, you can say so what about my shutters or what if my porch fell through. If you donít take care of it now I think it will turn into an area that is not as nice. Weíre giving people the trucks to use, free building permits, free paint from the recycle days. The City is doing everything it can to help people out.
Ms. Manis said these people have lived with a complete eyesore for years and years and years, and nothing has ever been done. Then to get this was just a major slap in the face. I completely sympathize.
Mr. Osborn said just the fact that the Mayor is thumbing through the letters to look for an example should be an indication that this isnít the only thing we are looking at. We are enforcing the code universally. We want to go after those houses you described that are not as well maintained as the neighborsí and we hope to see that rectified.
Ms. Manis said one week the cans may be screened. Maybe there is a bush there. That may be a code violation to keep a handle on.
Mr. Osborn replied the code says how they have to be screened. If they arenít adequately screened in December, then theyíre not adequately screened in December. I donít know how else to interpret that. When we did this two years ago with the summer employee we ran into this same issue. Some people just said Iíll wait until the summer employee is gone and Iíll move it back into my side yard again. I donít think they caught the intent of the legislation. While some people may have been caught off guard, there are a number of folks who know better and are doing it anyhow.
Ms. Pollitt asked will this gentleman be looking at businesses?
Mayor Webster replied we donít have a code for businesses.
Ms. Pollitt stated I would like to see that. I am a walker and I think we need to look at putting a maintenance code in that would require the businesses to keep their properties up also.
Mayor Webster said I agree with your suggestion. I would like to see City Council adopt something also. Mayor Webster read a violations letter.
Upon recent observation it was noticed that your property located at is in violation of Section(s) 155.0592 Ė Rubbish and Garbage Disposal of the Springdale Property Maintenance Code. In order to conform to code you must store cans out of view from the street in either the side or back yard by 9/4/98.
Please call the Springdale Building Department upon completion of work in order to avoid further action.
If you have any questions please call our office between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Thank you for your cooperation concerning the above matter(s).
Respectfully and sincerely,
Property Maintenance Inspector
Mayor Webster said I donít find it threatening. Maybe we can look at it and put in some pleases or howevers. I have no problem trying to soften the impact but I donít consider this a threatening letter.
A resident asked what does "further action" mean? Mayor Webster replied it means you could be cited to Mayorís Court if you fail to comply.
Ms. Manis said when we did this two years ago we had some money available. Is any of that money still left?
Mr. Osborn replied it is still available and we do use it when we have a conversation with a party who feels they canít afford to do the work because of circumstances. The inspector will give them a copy of the brochure and explain the program to them.
Mrs. McNear said I just wanted to respond to the comments Ms. Manis made regarding Board of Zoning Appeals. You mentioned that the property owner on Balsam built the garage. That was not built by the current owner. It was built in the early 1970s. The drive was not put in prior to our approval. We do take Board of Zoning very seriously. It can be a very difficult board. People leave crying sometimes when we tell them they canít do something. Weíve had people screaming at us, threatening to sue us. There are cases where people have too many animals and we have to tell them they canít keep a loving pet theyíve had for a long time. We try to be flexible.
I know it is a hard job and I encourage everyone to try to make a meeting because it gives you a whole different perspective. We put people on the board and then never go to see how they actually do on the board. Some things are silly but it is tough and I know youíre trying to do a good job but it just seems like this happened before. Itís a bad situation to be in. I donít know an answer but itís a concern of mine.
Mrs. McNear said I wanted to continue the discussion Mayor Webster started earlier about the deer. Iíve had a lot of conversations with people recently about the deer in the Oxford Hills/Springdale Lake area increasing in numbers. In particular, people are complaining that their shrubberies and plants are being eaten. Another concern is deer droppings. Perhaps there are some agencies we can contact. Maybe we can speak with Mr. Butsch and find out what types of plants would be best to put into this area and other types of deterrents. I donít think there is a quick and easy solution but maybe there are some coping mechanisms we can pass on to our residents to help with the deer problem.
Mr. Osborn stated this falls under the Board of Health and I know the Health Commissioner has met with ODNR and various other agencies to try to learn how to manage this situation. Unfortunately, there isnít a magic chemical you can put down to keep deer away. The only effective way to prevent deer from eating the trees is to wrap them so the deer canít get to the bark. As Mr. Burns pointed out, typically we donít allow hunting. We have made one exception in the southeast corner of the City in Oak Hills Cemetery where under very controlled circumstances on the cemetery property, two cemetery employees are authorized to hunt in a very specific manner in a very specific time frame but that doesnít help the deer problem in the far corner where you live.
Mr. Vanover said with the church going in the population has been displaced. As far as the droppings go, thatís fertilizer. They are a member of the cow family. One thing I have heard that has been successful is using fishing line. The deer will run into it but they canít see it to gauge it and jump.
Mr. Danbury said a small child may not see the fishing line either.
Mayor Webster said we all get annoyed by these deer. My wife complains every time she goes out and the plants are eaten down level to the ground, but you have to keep in mind that in the area where I live and Mrs. McNear and her neighbors live, there is a 100 acre plot and probably 90% of the deer population in the City are located in that 100 acre tract. As bad as they are, Iíll take that over seeing that 100 acres developed and seeing no green space at all.
Mr. Vanover said my wife and three others got the dubious distinction of getting parking tickets at the Rec Center during the baseball tournament. In defense of the Police Department she parked next to a no parking sign. Maybe there is a solution we could look at to alleviate the situation for residents who want to use the Rec Center during these special events.
Mayor Webster said I too heard from a few people regarding that. Iím not sure what else we can do. There is parking available and we have signs that say "event parking". Weíve got arrows. If you explore the other lots there is a place to park but you are going to have to walk. When we start construction at the Community Center next April the parking is going to be a lot worse for the next couple of years. We will be bringing you a proposal next meeting to try to provide some of the additional parking that we are going to do anyway. Weíll try to get that in place before we start construction but people are going to walk a lot farther to get to the Community Center, both short term and long term. That situation is going to get worse, not better.
Mr. Vanover said Rumpke had placed stickers on our recycling bins stating that newspapers should be placed in paper bags for recycling.
Mr. Parham said there have been no changes to the contract. There is no requirement that you put your newspaper in a brown paper bag as long as you have it contained within your bin. If your bin overflows then the suggestion is to put it in a bag to keep it contained. Weíll address Rumpke tomorrow on the problem.
Ms. Pollitt asked would you let Rumpke know that they missed our subdivision altogether on the recycling?
Mr. Danbury said a memo was sent to the Finance Committee dealing with our budget schedule. The public hearing would be the first of December or the last meeting in December. Mr. Wilson asked could Mr. Galster and I review this and get back with you?
MEETINGS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
Planning Commission - September 8, 7 p.m.
Board of Health - September 10, 7 p.m.
Board of Zoning Appeals - September 15, 7 p.m.
COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE - none
David Tarwater, 11779 Rose Lane said since so much time has been spent on the content of your violation letters and I have never done anything in public administration, Iíd be glad to spend some time reviewing a copy myself and send it back with suggestions.
I felt a little worried about the representative from ICRC and the updating of the video system of this room. Even though I see the importance of getting a better picture of what goes on, from a fiscal point of view, even though no dollar figures were quoted, it seems to me it is a financial mistake on our part to do anything which does not provide an investment as opposed to an actual expense on the communityís part. The community center is something which can always be used by all people in a commodities type of environment. It could even be used as an additional source of revenue to cover any shortages should there be some problem with the revenue structure. Looking at the long term economy it certainly cannot be ruled out. As far as something of the nature of closed circuit television that would be very difficult to charge for and to make up the extra cost for, especially since this is a non-profit institution.
Ms. Manis said thank you for coming up and speaking. I donít know if you know how ICRC works. We pay the franchise fees and none of the money for the cameras will be coming out of our budget. ICRC will pay for it.
Mr. Knox stated on a quarterly basis, on the five percent franchise fee that is paid by the subscribers to the City, three percent of the grand total goes to ICRC to do the work they are going to do.
Mr. Vanover said ICRC is our negotiating agent for our contract. They handle a lot of legal issues.
UPDATE ON LEGISLATION STILL IN DEVELOPMENT
News racks open
Regulating distribution of advertising material open
Ordinance 59-1998 second reading 9/16
Resolution for funding under SCIP 9/16
RECAP OF LEGISLATIVE ITEMS REQUESTED
Council adjourned at 8:20 p.m.
Edward F. Knox
Clerk of Council/Finance Director
Randy Danbury, President of Council