2011-09-17 / News

Waterfront Grill plans on hold

By Scott Rawdon

BUCKEYE LAKE- It’s definitely not the Village of Buckeye Lake’s fault that restaurateur Eric Mason placed his plans for a North Shore restaurant on hold, said Buckeye Lake Mayor Rick Baker.

“We’ve been trying to help Eric Mason in any way possible,” he said. Mason announced that his plans for the Waterfront Grill – he owns the Grill on 21st Street, the Chophouse, and other restaurants – were on indefinite hold because the Licking County Water and Wastewater Department would charge him roughly $61,000 to connect to the sewer.

“People don’t understand that it’s not the village water tap fee. It’s the county sewer,” said Buckeye Lake Village Council member Kaye Hartman.

Previously, Mason said the restaurant would be lakeside, near the North Shore Boat Ramp, with a second story banquet facility featuring a patio overlooking the water. He planned to have 140-seat capacity on the first floor with seating for 150 more in an outdoor patio. He first announced the proposed restaurant in January 2010.

“The village (of Buckeye Lake) has been great to work with,” said Garry McAnally, principal with Wachtel & McAnally Architects/ Planners, Inc., which is designing the homes and condos near the North Shore Boat Ramp as well as the restaurant. He added the village’s tap fees for public water are “very reasonable.” McAnally said the Waterfront Grill would be great for Buckeye Lake Village, “but these are tough times.”

According to the minutes from the Buckeye Lake Planning Commission’s Aug. 2 meeting, McAnally brought his master plan for the North Shore Landing Condominiums to the commission to share updates and potential uses for the project. He told commission members that sewer capacity fees and monthly sewer charges hinder bringing the restaurant project to the village at this point and he is simply formulating a plan to continue developing the land if the sewer issues can’t be resolved.

McAnally said he’s had back-up plans for the restaurant’s site from the beginning, and proposed two more duplexes or two single-family homes for the Waterfront Grill’s site if the restaurant plans are dropped.

Licking County Water and Wastewater Department Director Kevin Eby said Mason’s total sewer tap and capacity fee would be $61,000, which includes a capacity fee of $5,000/ EDU and a $ 1,000 tap fee. “This equates to 12 EDU’s,” he said. The restaurant’s EDUs are based on OEPA estimated sewage flows for just the 120 indoor seats, which is 26 EDU’s (35 gallons per seat, per day). “If you included the 150 outdoor seats and the banquet hall this number would be much higher,” said Eby. He said Licking County Commissioners placed a maximum capacity fee of 12 EDUs for new businesses, so the Waterfront Grill would only be charged for 12 EDUs.

“We haven’t let other people in at rock bottom or free,” said Licking County Commissioner Tim Bubb, adding that the commissioners have to be fair to businesses that have already paid Licking County Water and Wastewater’s fees. Bubb said the county’s sewer plant was recently upgraded at a cost of $10 million and all customers share in the debt service. He said sewer rates are based on consumption and a restaurant uses plenty of capacity. Bubb said the county has worked out payment plans for other commercial customers. “We’re trying to encourage business,” he said. Bubb said he wasn’t aware that either McAnally or Mason has spoken to the commissioners about reaching a compromise. “We’re willing to work with anyone,” he said. “They should come and talk to us.”

Numerous phone calls to Mason were not returned.

In other village news:

• Council President Charlene Hayden said during Monday night’s council meeting that she and Baker attended the Leaders on the Lake meeting Sept. 8. More than 30 community leaders from around the lake and Licking County met for a lake tour on the Queen of the Lake II. ODNR Chief Engineer Dave Mohr explained upcoming projects such as cleaning and widening the Licking River’s South Fork and widening the West Bank dam. “The river will be widened by five feet for approximately three miles,” she said. “They plan to clean out under the Route 79 bridge just west of the Route 79 exit.”

The project is scheduled to be ready for bid within the next couple of months. Hayden said ODNR engineers are still working on the West Bank dam design and gathering information from homeowners the project would affect. “It’s at least half a year before they will be ready for a plan review,” she said.

Hayden said Merv Bartholow of Buckeye Lake for Tomorrow said the lake “is still good” regarding blue-green algae toxins.

• AbitibiBowater Recycling Company Consultant Kevin Goble spoke to council about providing the village recycling services. “I’d like to see a good recycling program here,” said Hayden.

“It’s nice to be proactive,” said Goble.

Hayden said the paper recycling bin that used to be in the front of the village offices was from AbitiBowater. “We asked to have that bin removed because of the upcoming landscaping project in front of the village offices,” she said. “If the village decides to participate in the recycling program the service will not cost the village anything.” Hayden said the village would receive some money from the company just as it did for the paper recycle bin. “It wasn’t much money because we never promoted it,” she said.

Hayden said the village’s former recycling bins belonged to Licking County and were part of their recycling program available to the entire county. She said the village didn’t pay for that service, nor did it receive any money from the recycled materials. Hayden said those bins were removed because council member Kaye Hartman called Licking County and asked for the bins to be removed. “Kaye told (Buckeye Lake Service Director Tim Matheny) she would call to have the yellow and green paper recycle bin removed for the landscaping and called Licking County in error,” she said. “So, as a result, we have no recycling at all.”

• Jobes, Henderson & Associates, Inc. presented a progress report to council. JBA is designing a storm sewer improvement project along North Street, Highland, 6th, and Ohio 79. During August, JBA completed survey fieldwork and a base map, held a public meeting, obtained sanitary sewer plans from Licking County and water distribution system plans from the village. During September, JBA engineers plan to determine drainage areas, lay out pipes, and meet with Street Supervisor Mark Dymek about the drainage system’s preliminary layout.

• Buckeye Lake Youth Association President Jackie French said the association once again wants to sponsor a community wide Trunk-or-Treat event from 5 to 7: 30 p. m. on Monday, Oct. 31. Local businesses and residents will gather at Ryan- Braden Park to distribute treats to trick-or-treaters from the trunks of vehicles. The event is in addition to traditional trickor treat from residences.

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