2011-04-16 / News

Buckeye Lake wants to tackle messy properties

By Scott Rawdon

BUCKEYE LAKE – Messy properties are a problem for the Village of Buckeye Lake. “Some of these yards are dumps,” resident Kay Allen told the Buckeye Lake Village Council Monday night.

“I absolutely agree,” said Mayor Rick Baker. But, what can the village do about it? Actually quite a bit, said Baker, as long as there’s funding to complete the process.

He said Buckeye Lake Village Solicitor Butch Bindley said the village may contact any property owner with an excessive amount of trash or junk in his or her yard, and give that person a specified amount of time to clean up the property before he or she is cited for a violation. If the person still refuses to clean the property, the village can clean it, then send the property owner the bill. Unfortunately, said Baker, some violators still won’t pay for the clean up even after being cited, which places the village in a bad place financially.

Baker mentioned possibly selling off some of the properties where derelict houses were removed to help fund an effort to encourage property owners to maintain their yards. He’d also like to have monthly meetings with the solicitor, Police Chief Ron Small, and other village officials to discuss village clean up issues specifically. “I want to really put our heads together and make sure we can get something done,” said Baker.

Newark Mayor Bob Diebold said Newark utilizes a property maintenance ordinance whereby violators are notified and provided a certain amount of time to comply before being fined up to $250 per violation. He said the city often waives the fee if the violators are clearly making an effort to comply. “We don’t want the money as much as we want the compliance,” said Diebold.

“Take pride in your home, clean it up,” said Allen.

“ There are some circumstances out there, downright disgusting,” said council member Donna Thompson.

Allen wondered if several council members could attend a Licking County Board of Health meeting and ask what the board could do to help the village get some messy ( and unhealthy) properties under control.

“Where are my tax dollars going?” said council member Jeryne Peterson, who wondered why property owners are allowed to place their neighbors at risk by letting their properties fill with trash and junk.

Thompson said she doubted many new businesses would want to locate in Buckeye Lake until areas of the village are more orderly.

In other village news:

• Baker said there may be funding this summer to demolish six or seven more derelict homes. “It looks pretty optimistic,” he said. Baker said it looked as though a federal Neighborhood Stabilization grant administered by the Licking County Planning Commission dedicated to demolishing unlivable houses in Licking County ran out, but Licking County Community Development Manager Warren Weber said more funding may be available in the coming months.

“As of Dec. 31, we had about $52,232 in (Neighborhood Stabilization grant) dollars that can only be used for demolition,” said Weber. “We are in the process of compiling a list properties that we were unable to demolish during the grant cycle. We may start those (demolitions) sometime in the summer.”

• Council President Charlene Hayden said the village needs new storm water drains and a plan for constructing them should be in place as soon as possible so work may begin when funding is available. “We should start thinking about this now,” she said. “Also, if we had plans in place we may be able to get some of the work done in the event we are lucky enough to have development.”

Hayden asked if council would favor completing a drainage project in phases. “If so, we need an overall plan so everything comes together when all phases are complete.” She said council members, and specifically the public service committee, should begin thinking about raising matching funds should the village secure grant money for the project.

• Soon, it may be legal to drive golf carts on some Buckeye Lake streets. “That’s kinda me,” said Baker. “We’re becoming a golf cart community.” He said some residents, primarily in Cranberry Bay, drive golf carts through their neighborhoods, where streets are narrow and housing is dense. He said he wasn’t quite sure if it’s legal to do so. If not, it’s really not enforced, he said, so why not make driving road worthy golf carts on selected Buckeye Lake streets legal? Monday night, council heard the first of three readings of several ordinances that will legalize golf cart use on selected Buckeye Lake streets.

• Council member Kaye Hartman said the village Community Action Committee – the same group responsible for the Buckeye Lake Gateway Project on Hebron Road – will landscape a 10 by 60 feet area between Ohio 79 and the Village Office’s parking lot. Community Action Committee Chair Annetta Macedonia said the preliminary plan is to create a nautical theme including a buffering mound and screening using shrubs and perennials. She said incorporated into the landscaping will be the Locke Stone from the old canal and a sign (“Village Hall...”) mounted on the existing signpost, which will be repaired and freshly painted. The perimeter will be outlined with bollards and nautical roping.

“We hope to also plant an ornamental tree within the area in celebration of Arbor Day,” said Macedonia. “Our goal is to create a model for future landscaping of new construction sites along the main corridor of the village.” The project is scheduled to begin May 14 and be completed prior to Memorial Day weekend.

• Hayden said several tours are already booked for the Buckeye Lake Historical Society’s Queen of the Lake II – a large pontoon boat that shuttles hundreds of tourists around the lake each summer. She said Saturday and Sunday, April 16 and 17, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Buckeye Lake Marina in Millersport, volunteer workers will be sprucing up the boat to ready it for the 2011 season. “The intent is to have her ready to go by May 1,” said Hayden. Volunteers are needed. “All help will be appreciated,”

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