Smelly hogs, drifting road, rusting trolley cars - it's all in a night for trustees
JACKSONTOWN - Monday night's Licking Township Trustees meeting covered a wide range of topics - from smelly hogs on residential property to an expiring fire levy.
The township-owned Licking Township Fire Company is supported by two one-mill fire levies. One of its levies expires this year - it will be collected through 2010, and trustees have been discussing whether to renew it or replace it. If it's renewed, the levy will continue to raise the current $111,000 a year for the next five years. A replacement levy returns the tax rate to the original one mill rate, which will raise about $15,000 more a year for the fire company. Thanks to new construction and earlier property value increases, the tax rate required to raise $111,000 a year is now .88 mill. Returning that .88 mill rate to 1.0 mill provides the additional $15,000 in annual revenue. The impact on property owners is practically negligible. A property owner living in a home valued at $100,000 would pay an additional $3.68 per year or about one cent per day. An owner with a $200,000 home would pay about two cents more per day and so on.
Trustees had some questions about the effect of possible property devaluations on a replacement levy, but ultimately decided that replacing the levy provided more revenue protection for the fire company. Trustees unanimously approved the first step toward placing a one-mill replacement fire levy on the November ballot.
"It is vital that we have this levy," Fire Chief Mike Wilson said. He noted that last November voters narrowly defeated an additional three-mill levy that would have provided more on-station staffing. He said firefighters respect that decision and would continue to wait before bringing that issue back to voters. However, Wilson emphasized, approval of the replacement levy is critical to maintaining existing service levels which includes partial onstation staffing.
In other business, trustees unanimously approved a letter President Joe Hart drafted thanking Somerset Road resident Robert Snedden Sr. for "removing the hazardous items along your property and cutting the weeds adjacent to Somerset Road…" Two weeks ago, trustees unanimously approved a resoluton pursuant to Ohio Revised Code 505.87, declaring that the items and overgrown vegetation constituted a "nuisance." The resolution gave Snedden seven days to remove the debris and control the vegetation. He did so and Hart's letter continued, "The property now appears to be safe and free of nuisance…if the property is kept that way, no further action would have to be taken by the Licking Township Trustees relative to this issue."
Public comments were the most interesting part of the meeting. Two Crestline Road residents complained about a vacant foreclosed home on that short road off Dorsey Mill Road and about two hogs and some dogs kept at the property across the street. Zoning inspector Joe Walker said the resident told him that the hogs were part of a 4-H project and would be sold at the Hartford Fair in August. The neighbors complained about the odors from the pigs and dogs plus the dogs' barking. Hart suggested that Walker check with the county extension agent about having a 4-H project on a residential lot. Walker is trying to reach a responsible party in the foreclosure process to get the home secured and the lawn cleaned up. "The grass is high," Walker agreed. "It is a mess." Hart asked Walker to update trustees on both issues at the next meeting.
Connie Laudermilk, who lives on the opposite corner of U.S. 40 and Somerset Road from Snedden, told trustees that the dispute with Snedden has been going on too long.
"We've just addressed the issue of safety on the road," Hart told her. He acknowledged that Snedden owns to the center of the road. "Many people actually own the road and pay taxes on it," he added.
"I will agree that the mess he had over there was a hazard and a nuisance," Loudermilk said. "I know he is a pain in the ass."
She supported Snedden's claim that the road has drifted over on his property. "I don't think this is fair," she added. "I think you need to resolve this. It doesn't look right. It doesn't smell right."
"I have tried very hard to resolve this issue," Hart told her. "I have tried on a personal basis to resolve it."
"We have no intention of removing any of the road," Hart emphasized. "We never said we would remove the road."
Bowling Green Township resident Will Kern asked if trustees documented it when they widened the road. Snedden maintains that about two feet of asphalt was added just to his side of the road in 2004. Former Trustee Ron Acord, who was in office in 2004, said trustees tried in 2004 to address Snedden's complaints by improving the bank on his property. Trustees also filled in the ditch along his property at Snedden's request.
"We haven't paved over the ditch," Trustee Dave Millers said. "We didn't fill in the ditch and move the road."
"If Bob feels his property has been encroached on over the years, then he needs to present a proposal to us," Hart said. "The road is where the road is today."
Snedden, who left the last meeting before it started, continued his usual practice of commenting on the issue. He bought the property in 1963. It was an unimproved road then, but was first widened when the Dog Wood subdivision was built behind his property. In 2004, Snedden said the township paid the Shelly Company to resurface the 18 foot wide road, but claims the road is actually 21 and one half foot at his end. "Cut it off at 18 and get off my property," Snedden demanded.
Johnny Loudermilk, Connie's husband, said there isn't a berm on Snedden's side of the road. "We still have our berm. His got paved in '04." Loudermilk suggested that trustees cut down the bank on his side of the road and move the road over to get it off the contested area.
"No one is trying to do anything to Bob," Hart said. "We are not going to move the road. We won't widen it any further on either side. It will take a legal determination to get us to move the road."
Hart again offered to consider what Snedden believes he has lost. Snedden shouted out, "$100,000."
Harbor Hills resident Marshall Eubanks changed the subject by asking about the deteriorating trolley cars along Lancer Drive. Referring to minutes from trustee meetings last year, he reminded trustees that then Trustee Joe Cooper had discussed the historical significance of the cars with the Evans Foundation. Cooper was told they had no historical significance. "I think it is their (Evans Foundation) responsibility," he told. "We need to get a hold of the Evans Foundation and have them remove the damn things," he added.
Trustees next regular meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Monday, July 6 at the Licking Township Fire Company fire station on Jacksontown Road (Ohio 13).