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Hebron to move slow on township secession

HEBRON – Village officials aren’t in a hurry to secede from Union Township.

The issue which arose out of a July 8 meeting with the County Budget Commission (county auditor, county prosecutor and county treasurer) was briefly discussed at the July 10 council meeting and extensively at council’s combined committees meeting on July 15.

Currently, the Villages of Buckeye Lake and Hebron are part of Union Township. Village voters can vote for township trustees and can also serve as a trustee. A very small portion of the City of Heath is also in Union Township. However, neither Buckeye Lake nor Hebron residents vote on township tax levies nor pay the levies if adopted.

“This goes back 30 years,” Mayor Clifford Mason told council members Monday night. “They (county officials) let it go.” There are 15 townships in Licking County affected.

The current County Budget Commission is now committed to fixing it. “(Heath) Mayor Johns is a 100 percent proponent of seceding from the township,” Mason added. “It is very simple for them.”

Both the Villages of Buckeye Lake and Hebron could secede from Union Township if their village councils approved resolutions to do so. That part is simple, but determining what properties are in the villages and which aren’t gets complicated, particularly for Hebron since records will have to be checked all the way back to its incorporation in 1835. The Village of Buckeye Lake is much younger.

Union Township Trustees apparently want both Buckeye Lake and Hebron to secede. “They (trustees) thought it would be easy if Buckeye Lake, Hebron and Health seceded from the township,” Village Administrator Ralph Wise said Monday night.

Mason said there are several options. Hebron could secede or do nothing and stay part of the township. If they stayed in the township, they would vote on and pay township tax levies unless Union Township forms a fire district by itself that only includes the unincorporated portions of the township. If that happend, only district residents would vote on district levies and pay them if adopted. Hebron residents would still be able to serve as a trustee and vote for them, but would not vote on fire district levies nor pay them.

Mason said the district could still contract with Hebron and Granville Township to provide fire/EMS services. He also said Union Township and Hebron could form a joint fire district which would mean that both Hebron and township residents would pay the same millage for fire/EMS protection.

Though council members can’t take any actions during their committee meetings, it’s clear that most, if not all, are not ready to secede from the township. Safety Committee chair Alayna Morris said the first meeting with trustees to discuss the fire/ EMS contract for 2014 has been set for 7 p.m. on Monday, July 29, in council chambers. Hebron had pressed to start discussions a couple of months ago, but trustees opted to wait until June as outlined in 2013 contract which has now slipped to the end of July.

“It will be an interesting meeting July 29,” Wise commented.

In other business at the last two meetings, Larry Fenner, who owns the building in downtown Hebron that was leased to a Domino’s Pizza franchise owner, asked officials to return to a twohour parking limit in front of the businesses on that block on the south side of East Main Street.

Domino’s closed when its owner passed away, Fenner said. His efforts to find a new tenant are being hampered by a lack of parking, he told council members at both meetings. Fenner said only six parking spaces are available in front of the storefronts there and one is reserved for disabled drivers.

“There are four cars that park out front constantly,” he said. He believes the vehicles belong to second floor apartment tenants. “I’m trying to find a cure for it,” Fenner added. “Two-hour parking nipped it in the bud before. When the tickets hit the windows the parking problem is over.”

Though Fenner claims parking used to be limited to twohours previously, Wise said the current enforceable limit is 48 hours. After considerable discussion, Wise will inventory parking in the area and the street supervisor will do some measurements to see if there is enough room to do angle parking in that area. Moving to angle parking would add at least two additional spaces.

On July 10, council members unanimously approved a resolution to spend up to $410,795 to replace all residential and commercial water meters. The village engineer had estimated the project would cost about $600,000. Neptune Equipment of Cincinnati was the low bidder. Wise noted that Neptune was the only bidder that installs the meters itself, rather than subcontracting the work to another firm.

“We’ll have to make appointments with everyone to get in their homes,” Wise said. The new meters will be read via radio signals, allowing the village to quickly notify users if usage increases significantly. Residents with a running toilet, open outside faucet or leak will find out about it long before they receive a high water bill.

Wise expects work to begin in the next 30-60 days. The entire cost, including installation, is being paid from water department reserves set aside for that purpose. Customers will NOT paying anything more for the meters or installation.

Hebron businessperson Brian Vierstra of Extreme Asphalt told council members that he would like to base a travel baseball team on the big field at Evans Park next year. “ We need a home field,” he said. There would be a 13U team for sure and hopefully a 12U.

The team(s) would like to have ‘first rights’ to use the field and would have its schedule worked out by next February. Vierstra said his group would put roofs on the dugouts and improve field drainage at its expense. They might even be able to provide lights down the road.

Vierstra and his partner returned Monday night. After some additional discussion, Wise will work up a contract with the team for the 2014 season.

Since several members weren’t going to be available, council members cancelled their next regular meeting set for Wednesday, July 24. Their next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, August 14.

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