By BRIAN BOHNERT
Keeping Fostoria’s sidewalks clear of snow was the hot topic of discussion during Tuesday night’s meeting of Fostoria City Council.
At-Large Representative Thomas Lake asked the administration, and his fellow council members to look into tightening enforcement on those who do not remove snow from their sidewalks.
Lake said there are quite a few residences, rental properties and businesses throughout the city that have yet to remove snow from their sidewalks, pointing specifically toward those on Countyline Street. He said the blocked walkways make foot travel dangerous, forcing both residents and students to risk their lives.
“The sidewalks are blocked all over town and the school kids are walking in the streets,” Lake said.
The way the current ordinance reads, Lake said, is Fostoria police officers have the sole responsibility for writing tickets to those who do not remove snow from sidewalks throughout the city. During the meeting, he asked those in attendance for input on changing the ordinance so city zoning officials can also issue citations for the violation.
“It’s certainly a safety issue for the students trying to get to school,” said 3rd Ward Representative Jonathan Hay. “It’s dreadful the things they have to endure.”
Hay said he understands the need to give residents more time to clear their sidewalks, but he expects the rules to be properly enforced if they are broken.
“We’re going to give you more time, but expect that, if you don’t do it within that time, expect to be held accountable for that,” he said.
Lake also proposed holding offenders financially accountable if city crews had to clean snow from the sidewalks. Zoning Inspector Sandy Coleman said there is a similar rule on the books for weed and lawn mowing in the city.
Lake said he would also like to re-examine an ordinance on fence heights around residential swimming pools. Coleman said she would personally like to see the ordinance return to its previous rule of forcing anyone with a pool to install a six-foot privacy fence, instead of the five-foot chain link fence currently in the rulebook.
If the ordinance was put into place, the rule would apply to anyone installing a new pool or those rebuilding a pool. Those with fences in place would be grandfathered in. Coleman also said she would like every fence to have self-locking gates.
In other business, the city came one step closer to greenlighting its long-awaited Stearns Road improvement project as council gave a second reading to an improvement and maintenance agreement between the city of Fostoria and Perry Township, Wood County, that will allow for greater semi-truck access from Ohio 20 to “commercial and industrial locations” in Fostoria.
The project, which has been in the planning stages for the better part of a decade, will widen approximately one-half mile of Stearns Road in Perry Township to three lanes while also installing curbs and storm water drains.
According to the official agreement, the city obtained an Issue 1 grant in the amount of $1.1 million from the Ohio Public Works Commission for which it will provide 80/20 matching funds for the project.
In addition to the initial construction, the city would be responsible for performing all future maintenance and repairs, and defending, indemnifying and holding Perry Township harmless for “any cause of action, liabilities, claims or demands arising out of the aforementioned improvements” and to any future maintenance or repair of Stearns Road.
Per the contract, Perry Township would have to allow Fostoria to improve, maintain and repair the portion of Stearns Road and cooperate with the city’s requests for information about the road. The township would also be required to give “timely notice and accord” to the city the right to defend the township.
At the Jan. 9 council meeting, Law Director Tim Hoover said construction should begin sometime this spring.
In other action, council suspended the three-reading rule to adopt an ordinance submitted by Hoover for replacement pages to the Codified Ordinances of the city of Fostoria.
Council also gave a second reading to an ordinance relating to sewer regulations.
Following a brief executive session to discuss collective bargaining, council returned to chambers to approve a contract between the city and Fostoria Police Department’s patrol and detective’s union.
Prior to the end of the meeting, council reappointed Betsy Faeth to the Seneca County Board of Health for a three-year term, running from March 1, 2014-March 1, 2017.
The next meeting of Fostoria City Council will be at 7:30 p.m. March 4 in council chambers on the second floor of the Municipal Building.
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