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Council members not bowing to complaint about prayer

BALTIMORE – Monday night’s village council meeting opened with the Lord’s Prayer as has been done for years.

But before leading the recitation, Mayor Brad Nicodemus said a complaint had been received about opening the meetings with a prayer. Mentioning a friend injured in the OSU terrorist attack that morning, Nicodemus said he was exercising his prerogative as meeting chair and would proceed with the prayer. No one objected.

The issue came up again at the end of the meeting. Council member Duane Mohler noted that the complaint was anonymous and strongly suggested that the practice continue. Council members and Nicodemus quickly agreed so the Lord’s Prayer is still safe in Baltimore.

In other business Monday night, council members approved one ordinance and two resolutions that will turn over commercial building department duties “including plan review, inspections, reporting, and administrative duties” to the Fairfield County Building Department effective January 1. The village previously contracted with City of Lancaster for these services. Lancaster did not want to renew the contract that expires at the end of the year. The county department will receive 100 percent of all fees collected for this work.

Last year council members, after receiving complaints from local builders and property owners took back the residential building program from Lancaster. Monday night’s first resolution addressed that issue by establishing a Village of Baltimore Building Department which is a prerequisite for local enforcement. The second resolution requested certification to enforce the Ohio Building Code.

Council members, by a 5-1 vote with Mohler dissenting, approved an ordinance on the third reading that allows plugging sewer lines for non-payment and requires the customer to pay the cost to reopen the line. The provision was prompted by Green Gourmet’s continuing use of sewer service despite owing tens of thousands in unpaid water and sewer bills.

During public comments, Peter Brown briefly outlined a site plan for a skate park in Alt Park. Nicodemus told him this was the first time he had heard about a skate park in Baltimore. Council members said Brown had come to a meeting about two years ago asking for permission to build a skate park.

Council member Tony House told Brown he first should share his ideas and plans with the Park Board. Brown said he would at the Board’s next meeting which is set for 6 p.m. on Wednesday, January 25.

In her report, Village Administrator Teri Wise reported that complaints about discolored water have declined. She said Utility Service Group is coming up with a price to replace the red portion of the water tower with a lighter color but still keep ‘Baltimore’ on the tank. Wise said 50 new remote read meters have been received, continuing the gradual replacement of the manual read meters.

She said the village’s new code enforcement officer has sent out his first batch of zoning violation notices. They went to: 236 Oak, 310 Buchanan, 624-626 W. Market, 712-714 W. Market and 906 Biggerton. Wise said the second working session on the redraft of the village’s zoning code with the help of the Fairfield County Regional Planning Commission staff is set for 6 p.m. on January 12, in council chambers.

In his report, Police Chief Michael Tussey said an extremely intoxicated driver caused an head-on injury accident on South Main Street last week. She was taken to jail and later to the hospital when she complained of injuries as she was sobering up.

Tussey said he has a potential new reserve officer who is an experienced police officer. He said officers have monitoring the Market and Main streets area for loud music on weekends in response to a complaint about RP3. So far no problems have been noted.

Council members agreed, with Tussey’s concurrence, not to challenge the renewal of any liquor permits in the village. “There is nothing here in town that rises to the public nuisance standard,” he explained.

After some brief discussion about adding a yellow line on Basil Road by the bank exit to get drivers farther to the right to avoid southbound traffic, Mohler suggested just do it. Council members agreed and the line will be added.

In old business, council member Jim Hochradel asked Village Solicitor Jeff Feyko about his research on the patio railing installed on the sidewalk in front of the Baltimore Brew House. Feyko said it is ongoing, noting that he is looking to see if there are any updated standards beyond the four-foot wide requirement for sidewalks.

Hochradel said he discovered the railing was installed with a fence permit, adding that fences are not permitted on public easements.

“This should not have been installed,” he added. “The building already sits in the right-of-way.”

Council members cancelled their December 26 meeting and will meet once in December at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 12.

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