BUCKEYE LAKE – Village council members managed to find a few minutes Monday night to actually conduct some village business.
It was bookended between a nearly 20-minute lecture by Planning Commission Chair Karen Cookston and another nearly 20-minute discussion on making a small change to council’s standard agendas. Both focused on what appears to be village officials’ favorite topic – the rules in the charter and council’s own rules.
Council rules cover 20 pages including 11.5 pages addressing the “Council Code of Conduct” that’s the handiwork of former Council President Charlene Hayden. Somehow our neighbors in Hebron and Millersport manage to get things done without ANY council rules.
For example, Millersport has already completed their design and application for its $125,000 streetscape project. The discussion and design were done openly with public input.
Buckeye Lake Village also received a $125,000 streetscape grant at the same time. There has been very little discussion even within council about how to spend it, much less involving residents in the project selection or design.
Millerport’s project will probably be approved in June with the funds released in July. Buckeye Lake will likely be pressed to meet the application deadline early next year.
Cookston and some of her fellow Planning Commission members are apparently not satisfied with their appointments for life to the Commission. The Charter failed to set any term limits so members voting in Buckeye Lake are members until they quit or die. Non-elector members, typically not living in the Village of Buckeye Lake, must be reconfirmed annually by the appointing body – the major or village council.
Council members opted earlier this year not to reconfirm Stacie McCloud who was also serving on the Parks and Recreation Commission. She was reconfirmed for Parks & Recreation.
The Planning Commission spent nearly two hours at a recent meeting discussing how to handle reconfirmation, basically deciding that the Commission should set the criteria. Cookston said Commission members unanimously support McCloud’s reconfirmation and want council members to overturn their non-confirmation vote.
Council member Peggy Wells suggested forming a charter review commission to address all the deficiencies in the charter. Council President Kitty Zwissler said she gets a lot of complaints about non-residents making rules that they don’t have to live with. Cookston said the Charter allows non-residents to serve on boards so business or property owners, or part-time residents who vote elsewhere can still participate or provide their expertise. Zwissler noted that neither of the non-residents on the Planning Commission last year own property or a business in the village.
The agenda format is set in council rules. There are different requirements depending on whether it is the first or last council meeting of the month.
Several council members wanted an opportunity to bring up issues to discuss during the meeting without having to wait for “Council Member Comments” at the end of the meeting. A suggestion to add “Open Discussion” before the first of two opportunities for citizens’ comments was rejected. A proposal to add “New Business” to “Unfinished Business” in the #4 position on the second meeting of the month agenda brought concerns about possibly “hijacking the meeting” and the need to define “new business” in council rules. Zwissler wanted to combine it with “other business” in the #17 slot which actually comes after “Council Member Comments.”
Wells proposed a compromise that the opportunity come after committee and village official reports but before voting on any ordinances or resolutions. The change was approved 5-2 with council member Arletta Ruton and Zwissler voting “no.”
Surprisingly, council members quickly and unanimously agreed to remove “development director” from the list of reporting village officials on the second meeting agenda. The village hasn’t had a development director for nearly five years.
The Public Service Committee finally wrapped up an issue from last year. The village sought proposals from a handful of area engineering firms to serve as the village’s engineer. After months of cancelled and unproductive committee meetings, Ruton said the committee recommends ADR & Associates of Newark for the position. She added that three bids have been received for a storm water utility. She set a committee meeting for 6 p.m. on Monday, June 26, to review the bids.
In his brief report, Mayor Clay Carroll said water trench line street repairs should start next week on Seymour and Central. He suggested that the Finance Committee meet to decide what, if any, levies should be on this November’s ballot. November is the first of three opportunities to renew or replace the fire levy. Several council members have discussed putting a street levy on the ballot to provide funds for street repairs. Finance Committee Chair Tom Wolfe said he would meet with Carroll and fiscal officer Mary Jennings.
Council members did not ask for a hearing on the Barrel Bar’s liquor license renewal.
Zwissler announced that Lake Fest will begin about noon on Saturday, June 17, at the North Shore Park and conclude with a free fireworks show from Phantom Fireworks at dark. Activities include a DJ, childrens’ games and food. She urged all boat owners to participate in the Buckeye Lake Area Civic Associations 4th of July boat parade on Tuesday, July 4.