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No exceptions for fire department parking lot

BUCKEYE LAKE – Singer/ Songwriter Joni Mitchell sang about the perils of paving paradise and putting up a parking lot.

For the Buckeye Lake Fire Department, having a new parking lot would be paradise. Monday night, resident George Braden asked the Buckeye Lake Village Council why the village purchased land next door to the firedepartment when it can’t be built upon and can’t be raised to the level of Ohio 79 for effective parking.

In August, council approved the purchase of the 119 feet by 320 feet parcel of land for $26,000 from Maribel Neel, who owns much of the land west of the station.

Council member Drew Bourne said that when the property was purchased, village officialsintended to use filldirt to raise the surface of the property to meet the surface of Ohio 79. Currently, the property is several feet lower than the roadway. Unfortunately, it’s in a floodplain and adjacent to a stream. According to the Licking County Planning Commission, raising the elevation of the property could increase flooding downstream. The village can move the existing dirt anywhere on the property it likes, but it cannot add dirt.

Braden said he talked to the Licking County Commissioners about getting some sort of variance for the property. They referred him to Licking County Environmental Planner Jim Mickey who explained to him that fill dirt cannot be added. In December, Mickey attended a village council meeting and explained the situation in detail, promising that he passes the property frequently and will “keep an eye on it.”

“I don’t know why they say that’s a flood hazard area,” said Braden.

Council member Donna Thompson said the land has flooded on occasion.

Council Clerk Tim Matheny said if the village added fillto the property or defiedflood plain regulations in any way, it could jeopardize 149 residential flood insurance policies within the village.

Braden doubted that raising the property would cause any damage.

“The village can’t build in a floodplain,” said Matheny, flatly.

Tuesday, Director of Development Valerie Hans said that realistically there’s no reason why the village can’t create a parking lot on the property. It would just need to have a short access ramp that’s graded down to the level of the land. It would not be completely accessible from Ohio 79.

“The intention is to comply with the rules and regulations of the floodplain,” she said. “There’s no reason to vary from anything.”

In other council news:

• Council member Shelly Small said a Central Ave. property’s front yard is “terrible” and full of broken down vehicles, some with expired tags. She said the owner of the vehicles is using them as storage sheds. The property’s driveway is so full of derelict vehicles, said Small, that the resident parks next door in front of a vacant house with a no trespassing sign in its window. “I’ve been complaining about these cars since 1999,” she said.

“It takes a while,” said Zoning Inspector Bob Jordan.

Hans said Code Enforcement OfficerRod Riley will follow up with Small’s complaint. If the resident doesn’t attend to the vehicles as told, the village may remove the vehicles. “There’s an entire process we have to go through,” said Hans.

• Small said that more than a month ago a resident told her an emergency squad hit the stop sign at the corner of 1st Ave. and SR 79. “This was not reported to the police but I was told it was reported to the street department and they were going to take care of it,” she said. The sign is still leaning and it’s shorter than the legal height. Matheny said the sign may be the Ohio Department of Transportation’s responsibility.

• Council members did not discuss a proposed contract to acquire public water from Millersport because the Millersport Village Council wasn’t to have its first formal review the proposed contract until the following night.

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