By BRIAN BOHNERT
Drivers should start paying a little more attention to the intersection of North Wood and West North streets within the next few days.
Fostoria City Council approved an amendment to the city’s traffic control map and file Tuesday, authorizing the crossroads be regulated as a four-way stop.
With the approval, Fostoria Street Department will alter the intersection in an effort to preserve a “safe and efficient” flow of traffic, the ordinance states. Crews will remove the inactive traffic lights and replace them with stop signs in all directions sometime within the next week, said City Engineer Dan Thornton.
Thornton said his office has been studying some of the city’s intersections over the last few years to determine which ones have unwarranted traffic lights. Part of the study, Thornton said, involves monitoring traffic flow on each road at the intersection. With this junction in particular, traffic flow seemed relatively similar in all directions.
In addition to North Wood and West North streets, he also considered the intersections of Union and North streets, and Main and North streets. Those will remain traffic lights for the time being, Thornton said.
“If the lights aren’t warranted, they’re not supposed to be up,” he said.
Anyone driving through the intersection over the last several weeks may have noticed temporary stop signs warning the public that the crossroads has been “under study.” Thornton said municipalities are required to place those notices for roughly 60 days.
While he is unsure as to exactly how much money this swap will save the city, Thornton said the maintenance of outdated electrical equipment will save a lot of headaches.
“There’s a problem with the controllers on the lights,” he said. “The controllers are old, the lights are old, and the traffic numbers don’t warrant having lights at that intersection.”
Replacing one of the controllers alone can cost thousands of dollars, he said.
Also at the meeting, council gave a second reading to an ordinance regarding the height of fences around residential swimming pools within the city. If passed, the law will require anyone erecting a new swimming pool on their property to install a fence around the structure at least six feet high.
This ordinance would repeal a 2012 decision that set the fence requirement at four feet for all straight-line borders and five feet for chain-link fences.
In a previous interview with the Review Times, Zoning Inspector Sandy Coleman said a clerical error made in 2012 further complicated the law by mistakenly setting the requirements in the city’s codified ordinances to four feet for fences all across the board.
To ensure the updated policy holds water, the Fostoria Law and Ordinance Committee has asked council to restore the ordinance to how it read prior to the 2012 debacle: a height requirement of six feet, regardless of the type of fence.
Those who already have a pool on their property need not fret. Coleman said anyone who currently owns a residential swimming pool is grandfathered in and will not have to build a taller fence so long as a border is already in place.
However, any Fostorian who takes an old pool down and purchases a new one will be required to comply to the new fence regulations, she said.
Additionally, council unanimously gave a third reading and approval to an ordinance granting a pay raise to both Council Clerk Dave Clark and the assistant clerk of council. This legislation approves a $1,200 per year raise for Clark and a $600 a year jump for the assistant clerk.
Clark, who earns $6,000 per annum, would earn a total of $7,200 annually for each year of his four-year term.
While summer may have just officially kicked off for the year, council is already handling business for the season that dare not have its name spoken.
Per the request of Fostoria Law and Ordinance Committee members Thomas Lake and Jonathan Hay, council gave a second reading to an ordinance regarding the responsibilities of homeowners to keep their sidewalks clean during winter months.
If passed, the time limit for Fostorians to clear snow, ice and other weather-related debris from their sidewalks will change from 12 to 24 hours, allowing homeowners more time to avoid penalties.
In other business:
Mayor Eric Keckler urged everyone in attendance to celebrate Independence Day this Saturday at Foundation Park for the city’s Fourth of July Celebration. Festivities begin with the vintage base ball game at 6 p.m. and continue on until dusk when fireworks will commence.
Keckler also reminded people of the SummerFest, which will take place July 18-19
Safety Service Director Allyson Murray said the city has currently been spraying for mosquitoes.
City Auditor Steve Garner said the city’s income tax receipts are up 3.3 percent overall this year compared to last year.
Steve Moes was reappointed to Fostoria Civil Service Commission.
Council will next meet at 7:30 p.m. July 15 in council chambers on the second floor of the Municipal Building. There will be a public hearing at 7 p.m. July 15 in council chambers regarding the City of Fostoria’s 2015 tax budget.
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