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Trustees have questions on speed limits

HEBRON – Are Union Township speed limits too high?

Trustee President John Slater said Monday night that some residents are unsure of township speed limits, particularly on Refugee Road going into Union Township. They wonder if the limit can be reduced to 45 miles per hour from what they assume is 55 miles per hour outside of Hebron. Slater said the township would likely ask ODOT to conduct a speed study on Refugee Road.

ODOT District 5 spokesperson Kate Stickle said Wednesday that speed limits may be altered on any roadway if the proper studies are done to show that a speed reduction is warranted. The starting point would be to review section 4511.21 of the Ohio Revised Code, which outlines the statutory (or prima facie) speed limits. By reviewing this section, she said the trustees could see what the statutory speed limit should be on township roads inside and outside municipalities, on unimproved roads, on platted subdivisions, etc.

After reviewing this section, if the statutory speed is considered to be too high, the township can perform a speed study or contact the Licking County Engineer office to perform the study. The county or township would send the results to ODOT for review following the speed study. Finally, said Stickle, ODOT reviews the study to ensure that the proper procedures were followed and would begin the process to install a speed zone.

In other township news:

• Trustee Jack Justice said the township would try to secure half its road salt through a new ODOT salt bidding process. Slater said Wednesday that the township would continue to purchase the other half of its salt supply from the Morton Salt mine. Slater said Morton Salt allows the township to purchase less than what the township estimates it will need at the beginning of the season if the winter weather remains mild. But, the township cannot purchase more than the estimate if the winter becomes harsh. ODOT allows a 20 percent overage if necessary, but won’t allow the township to accept less than 50 percent of the pre-season estimate. Salter said he couldn’t think of a time when the township needed less than half its estimated salt usage and he believes the township can save money purchasing some of its salt from ODOT.

• Trustee Jesse Ours said he attended a Saturday meeting about House Bill 50 and the authority it gives townships to remove junk vehicles from public and private property. HB 50 was passed March 5, 2008.

Although townships were and continue to be authorized to regulate the storage of junk vehicles within unincorporated territories, townships have not been authorized to remove junk vehicles from within that territory. HB 50 authorizes trustees to provide, by resolution, for the removal of any vehicle deemed as a junk vehicle within the township. According to HB 50, a junk vehicle is three model years old or older, is apparently inoperable, and extensively damaged including, without limitation, missing wheels, tires, engine, or transmission. If the vehicle is on private property, the township must provide two weeks notification to the property owner before removing the vehicle.

• Slater said Monday night that he hasn’t had any additional meetings with Hebron officials concerning the 2009 fire/EMS contract since late January. They have been trying to meet on Saturdays.Trustees and village officials are negotiating a contract renewal for the Hebron Fire Department to continue to provide fire and EMS services to the unincorporated portion of the township south of the CSX rail line.

The sticking point is how to use the nearly $200,000 generated by EMS billing since July 2007. Hebron, which hasn’t spent the money, wants to use most of it for capital improvements for the fire department. The trustees want what they consider the township’s share, to go toward meeting its 60 percent share of the department’s operating expenses.

Trustees raised the issue months ago and Hebron Village Council recently agreed to extend the 2008 contract two months into 2009 to provide more time to resolve the issue.

“Let’s get this hammered out before we run out of Saturdays,” said Slater.

Justice said township residents are calling him to ask that he not give in and hold out until the end.

Still, “Everybody’s eager to keep working on it,” said Slater.

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