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Late October hearing, vote set for garage variance issue

BUCKEYE LAKE – The Buckeye Lake Village Charter does not specifically require the village to hold a public hearing regarding a change to garage variances, but it does require the village to follow the Ohio Revised Code, which does require a hearing. So, the village will have a public meeting at 5 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 26, with a village council vote following that evening.

“Our charter does not reflect that we have to have a public meeting,” Buckeye Lake Planning Commission Chair Karen Cookston told the Buckeye Lake Village Council Monday night. “However, the charter does say we will follow the Ohio Revised Code,” which requires a public meeting with 30 days notification.

Earlier, the planning commission unanimously recommended that council members approve a variance to allow the village board of zoning appeals to consider approving a freestanding garage for construction on a separate lot from the owner’s residence as long as it conforms to some specific requirements under the BZA’s discretion.

BZA members may only consider granting a variance under the following conditions:

• The lots cannot be combined due to street, alley, or easement impediment.

• The garage lot must be permanently identified with the deed restriction to the residential lot. Release of the deed restriction can be considered by variance with appropriate residential conformity.

• The garage must be consistent in design and size with the residence. While the size must be proportionate to the residence, the maximum garage size permitted is a three-car capacity.

• The building must conform to all existing setbacks.

• The garage and residence must be rented or leased together to the same user. The primary user of the garage must be the occupant of the residence identified by deed or lease.

In other council business:

• Council member Kitty Zwissler questioned expenses relating to repairs made to the villages skate park ramps. She said she is “dismayed at the mess the skate park is in,” and questioned the qualifications of people who repaired the ramps. “Who are these people,” she said, adding that some of the work invoices look unprofessional and the village paid $1,200 for what she considers to be sub-par work. Zwissler said the village paid for saw blades and drill bits the workers should have already possessed on their own.

“It’s not done,” said Mayor Clay Carroll. He said the skate park requires more work.

“They were paid for it,” Zwissler said.

Carroll said those parts of the construction were done, but the ramps themselves are not complete.

Zwissler said people were paid for poorly done work. “Who’s approving these payouts,” she said. The work is being funded through a Licking County Health Department grant. “This is very scarce money that I worked very hard to get for the village,” she said. The village needs to be frugal.

“First of all, we worked very hard to get the money,” Carroll emphasized. He said a lot of lumber was replaced inside the ramps that’s not visible from the outside. “It’s not complete,” Carroll said.

“They shouldn’t have been paid $600 a piece,” Zwissler said.

Council member Arletta Ruton asked if the workers were licensed to work on skate parks.

“There’s no carpenter’s license,” Carroll said.

“No, but these are people who are experts?” Ruton said.

Zwissler said workers should have their own tools, and those the village purchases are village property. She said no payments should be approved until the work is approved and verified.

Council member Robert Masone agreed there should be a payment schedule.

Carroll said the parks and recreation commission reviewed the work and the laborers were paid when the work was complete. He said the laborers worked two 12-hour days and a third person helped them.

Masone said the ramps look solid and the park is looking good. He said proper channels were used, but the work description could have been spelled out better. “I don’t want to say that the village has suffered,” Masone said. “The park is better because of what happened.”

“And, we’re not done,” Carroll said.

Cookston said the going rate for construction laborers is $25 to $40 per hour and those who worked on the ramps were not overpaid. “That is not an unreasonable wage at all,” she said.

• Carroll said Millersport will raise its water rates in the near future; Millersport supplies bulk water to the Buckeye Lake system. He did not say when the rates will raise or by how much. “That’ll be coming down the pike,” Carroll said.

• Carroll said he wants to educate the community about service animals such as seeing eye dogs and dogs trained to assist people with special needs. He said a local store would not allow a person’s service animal into the store, which is illegal. Everyone needs to know the difference between a service animal and a pet, he said.

• Carroll said the Fire Belles donated $500 to the Buckeye Lake Fire Department.

• Council member Peggy Wells, who was not present at Monday night’s meeting, submitted a letter to council questioning its procedures. According to her letter, “A special meeting of Buckeye Lake Village Council was called on August 31, 2015 at 6:30 p.m. for the following purpose-to fill the village council vacancy. The meeting was properly noticed as required. However, council violated the

Ohio Open Meetings Act when they proceeded with two other topics of business beyond the purpose for which the meeting was called. Council went into executive session and also discussed the topic of videotaping council meetings and referred the issue to the rules committee. This is documented in the minutes of the special council meeting approved by council on September 14, 2015.

“As you know, I was censured and disenfranchised for the August 31 meeting. Therefore, I am writing this letter to object to the violation. Recently, I have cited numerous examples of the council president violating the council rules under authority she seems to have adopted for herself. Now, under her leadership council has violated rules established by the State of Ohio. This subject should be referred to the rules committee for further discussion and recommendation.”

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