BALTIMORE – “This is our top priority,” Mayor Brad Nicodemus told council members Monday night.
The issue is intermittent complaints about discolored water. Village Administrator Teri Wise had reported earlier in the meeting that Ohio EPA personnel had shown up unannounced earlier Monday. The visit was the result of several complaints to Ohio EPA about brown water.
Wise said Ohio EPA didn’t do any testing during this visit. The focus of their visit was whether the village was aware of the complaints and what steps are being taken to fix them.
The issue had been discussed at the June 13, 2016, council meeting and was thought to be caused by a chemical imbalance due to problems with new chlorine pumps. Wise said a recent test came back with a high magnesium level. She emphasized that wasn’t a health issue and that the village’s water is safe.
Wise added that she has sought technical assistance from Ohio Rural Water Association and expects them to be in town Thursday (June 30) or no later than July 5.
Several council members expressed frustration about the failure of three chlorine pumps at the recently upgraded water treatment plant. A prototype pump is now being recommended as being able to hold up.
“There are too many variables and things not making sense,” Nicodemus added. “This is Teri’s top priority.”
In other business Monday night, Wise reported that attendance at the pool is still up. She said staff is reviewing the shelter house deposit process to make sure deposit aren’t returned if something is not cleaned up or damaged. The review was prompted by some complaints about the condition of some shelter houses.
Service Committee Chair Tony House said a proposal to increase the cost of a cemetery lot will soon be brought before council. “We’re trying to stop outsiders from buying up all our lots,” he explained. The average burial plot in Lancaster is $1,000, he reported.
Right now thoughts are for a $400 per plot cost for residents. These lots would not be transferable. They could be sold back to the village for the original price paid less a proposed $30 deed transfer fee. Cemetery plots for non-residents would be $800.
Village Solicitor Jeff Feyko said a meeting was held last week with the nine out-of-the-village property owners who receive village water. They had a number of questions including whether they could continue to have livestock if they annex into the village and whether they would be required to connect to the sewer system and under what terms and conditions.
Council members decided not to request a hearing on D-5 and D-6 liquor permit applications for the Baltimore Pint House that is being developed in the former Gumbo’s restaurant on North Main Street.
Council member Jim Hochradel asked why the property maintenance inspector’s position has not been advertised. Nicodemus said the village is seeking an independent contractor rather than a part-time employee. He wants to get the program up and running quickly so the focus is on two experienced inspectors willing to do the job as an independent contractor. A couple of council members, including Hochradel, expressed concerns about the perception of hiring someone without advertising. Nicodemus said Wise can hire a contractor without council approval.
Council members learned at their June 13 meeting that water has been turned off to the Green Gourmet potato facility next to the paper mill. The company owes about $65,000 in unpaid water and sewer bills plus an additional $100,000 or so that has been added to their property taxes. Nicodemus asked Wise to determine whether sewage is still being discharged.
Council member Robert Hankison said a below-grade truck dock is now full of water. Wise confirmed that electric has also been shut off there which means a sump pump is no longer operable. Hankison is concerned about mosquitoes breeding in the standing water.
Council members unanimously agreed to suspend the three reading rule and adopt an ordinance accepting the annexation of about 2.006 acres from Liberty Township on the first reading. The property is owned by Roger D. and Bernice J. Woods. Feyko suggested suspending the three reading rule, noting that the village has missed the 60-day deadline to take action after county commissioners approved the annexation.
Council members also heard the first reading of an ordinance adopting a sidewalk installation policy. If approved, it requires a property owner “immediately adjacent to and/or abutting” to a property with a sidewalk to install a sidewalk on their property to village and ADA specifications. Nicodemus said it won’t affect any property owners right now. “You have to start somewhere if you are going to build a community of sidewalks,” he explained.
Nicodemus also announced that the Planning Commission will meet at 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 28, with Fairfield County Regional Planning representatives to kickoff the overhaul of the village’s planning and zoning regulations.