MINUTES- REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING OF APRIL 20, 2015
The regular, scheduled meeting of the Council of the Village of Marble Cliff was held Monday, April 20, 2015 in the Village Hall at 1600 Fernwood Ave. at 7:00 pm.
Those in attendance were: Council Members: Matthew P. Cincione, John F. Kukura III, Linda J. Siefkas, Robert W. Sterneker, Kendy A. Troiano, and Dow T. Voelker; Mayor, Kent E. Studebaker; Village Solicitor, Mitchel Banchefsky; Donald Mares, representing Village Engineer, Joshua Ford; and Administrative Assistant, William Johannes. No visitors or press were present. Fiscal Officer, Cynthia McKay was excused.
1) Receive – Mayor’s Court Report, March, 2015
2) Receive – Police Report, March, 2015
3) Receive – Fire Dept. Report, March, 2015
4) Receive – Building permits issued in March, 2015
5) Approval – Minutes of the regular, scheduled meeting of March 16, 2015 and the special meeting of March 18, 2015
6) Approval – Financial Statements for March, 2015
7) Receive – Village Income Tax Report – $197,719.99
Ms. Troiano moved approval of the Consent Agenda. Mr. Voelker seconded. The Consent Agenda was approved unanimously.
Mayor Studebaker reported he has no additional information for Council regarding any of the properties currently available in the Village. However, he reported Village business, Flourish Home, was highlighted in the Columbus Monthly Home and Garden Magazine.
Mayor Studebaker reported a new business, the Breakfast Club, has located at the Commissary. They are a specialty catering business.
Mayor Studebaker reported the Giant Eagle deli has created the “Marble Cliff Sandwich.” Council agreed that the Village has hit the “big time” with such an honor.
Mayor Studebaker reported he attended a meeting held by the Grandview Heights School District Superintendent for the purpose of remaining up to date with the activities and plans of the school district. The superintendent shared information regarding the types of inquiries the schools receive from the community. Most of the inquiries focus on funding for the district. Mayor Studebaker reported he brought up the Health and Wellness project which was presented to the Council at its March regular meeting. He reported the school district is very interested in the project and hopes it goes forward, but it is allowing the parent group which presented to the Council in March to take the lead on funding and development of the final project.
Mayor Studebaker reported he attended the MORPC “State of the Region” lunch. MORPC presented their new 2050 plan which replaces the 2020 plan. The keynote speaker presented information about what communities should be providing for their residents. Mayor Studebaker stated it sounded like the speaker was describing Marble Cliff and Grandview Heights. Much of what was presented is exactly what Marble Cliff is doing currently in its strategic planning sessions and its major infrastructure planning such as transportation and pedestrian friendly paths, streets and sidewalks.
Mayor Studebaker reported he has been participating in the interviewing process for the new Grandview Heights Building and Zoning Department Director. Mayor Studebaker stated there were two finalists but, to his knowledge, Grandview has not made an offer at this time. The plan is to have a new director by the end of May.
Mayor Studebaker reported he has received the draft copy of the Planning Next report. He said he will review the report and then have it distributed to Council for review and response prior to the regular May Council meeting. Planning Next will present the report at the May meeting. Mayor asked Council to consider if they would like to hold the May meeting in a larger location to accommodate the public when the report is presented.
Mayor Studebaker reminded Council that a proposal was presented to Council to have updated electronics installed in the Council Chambers. The proposal came from Tiger Systems. The purpose of the equipment would be to improve the presentation of materials and exhibits to Council as well as the public in attendance at meetings in the Council Chambers. As requested by Council, Ms. McKay reached out for a quote from the company which provided consultation, equipment and installation services to Frost Brown and Todd during the renovation of their Columbus office. No response was received.
Ms. McKay also met with Scott McLinn (recommended by Matt Cincione). After researching possible materials and plans, Mr. McLinn provided a verbal quote for materials and labor. Ms. McKay has asked Tiger Systems and will ask Mr. McLinn for a list of similar projects completed for other clients. Ms. McKay is working to provide an “apples to apples” comparison. Mayor Studebaker expressed his hope that Council may be able to move forward with the project as early as the May meeting.
Mayor Studebaker reviewed information from the Treasurer of State, Josh Mandel regarding the “Ohio Checkbook.” The program is designed to promote transparency in state and local government finances through a web site which can be can be used by entities and individuals to track government expenditures. The program is provided at no cost to local governments and the information is transmitted to the Treasurer’s office via the UAN accounting system which the Village has been using for many years.
Mayor Studebaker asked for comments or questions from Council regarding the program. He stated his support for the transparency provided by the program along with recognizing that all the information that would be available on the Treasurer’s web site is public record. Mayor Studebaker expressed a concern that the material will be presented on the web site in a way that contains enough information to avoid misunderstanding or misinterpretation.
Mr. Kukura asked if a Council vote will be required to participate in the Ohio Checkbook. Mr. Banchefsky stated that a motion will be adequate if the Council decides to participate. Mayor Studebaker asked Council to look at the material provided and visit the web site to review the information provided by entities already participating. Participation in the program is voluntary. The option to participate will be brought back to Council at a future meeting.
Ms. Troiano asked if we know what level of control the Village has about the material presented. Mayor Studebaker stated staff is continuing to gather information.
Mr. Banchefsky stated that some communities are concerned that the information may significantly increase the number of public records requests. Mr. Banchefsky stated his opinion that the Village should take time to investigate the experience of other communities with the program. Mayor Studebaker commented that not participating might also increase the number of record requests. He also observed that the Village receives very few records requests.
Mayor Studebaker reported that the annual insurance renewal process is underway.
Mayor Studebaker congratulated Ms. Troiano for the completion of her bachelor’s degree in human resource management. She reported her employer has extended an offer to support her in pursuing a master’s degree. Council added their congratulations.
Mr. Mares reported a quote has been received from Decker Construction to perform point repairs on W. Fifth Ave. The work should be completed within about 3 weeks after Decker receives the signed agreement with the Village for the work. Mr. Ford is reviewing the numbers and he will forward the quote to staff after his review is complete. The Fifth Ave. point repairs are being completed well in advance of major work on Fifth Ave. which is anticipated to be performed in 2017. The 2017 project will include the multi-purpose trail along with street, curb and sidewalk repair or replacement. The Village will be partnering with Upper Arlington for the project. Burgess and Niple will be providing a quote for the feasibility study which will be performed for the project. The cost of the study will be shared equally with UA.
Mr. Mares reported the W. Fifth Ave. Bridge Project is scheduled to begin in May with the bridge closing in July. The bridge is to be closed no more than 120 days.
Mr. Johannes reported the contractor will be incentivized to complete the work ahead of schedule and penalized if the work goes beyond the agreed upon schedule. Mr. Johannes also reported that AEP plans to take the utilities underground at the intersection of W. Fifth and Dublin Rd.
Mayor Studebaker stated Columbia Gas has begun notifying residents of their plans to begin phase 2 of the project to upgrade underground gas lines and install new meters along Arlington Ave. north of Third, Cardigan Ave. and Roxbury Rd. The project will be underway within a few weeks.
Council briefly discussed the street lights along W. Fifth Ave. and identified spots in the Village where there are dark spots.
Mr. Johannes reported Engineer Ford and Fiscal Officer McKay spent approximately 5 hours walking all the Village sidewalks to document the condition of the sidewalks and identify areas for repair or replacement. A report will be brought to Council.
Mr. Mares left the meeting at this point.
Mr. Banchefsky presented information regarding the Village’s process for addressing variance requests. He commented that he and the Mayor have discussed the Village’s procedure but agreed that any discussion or action by Council should wait until there are no variance requests in process. Because the Village does not have a planning commission or board of zoning appeals, Council has acted as a quasi-administrative body rather than a legislative body when addressing variance requests. In a variance request process the body is considering the application of law rather than making law which is the reason that witnesses are sworn in and testimony is considered. Marble Cliff currently addresses variance requests through an ordinance. Consequently the process for appealing or challenging the decision is the filing of a legal action to be heard in court or circulating a petition to have the variance considered by the entire community in the form of a ballot issue.
Mr. Banchefsky stated his opinion that the current process which creates the possibility of a ballot issue is excessively complicated, time consuming and potentially expensive for all parties.
Mr. Banchefsky explained that the process in most municipalities is to have an administrative body swear witnesses for testimony and, after all parties have offered testimony, the body renders a decision. Mr. Banchefsky suggested that Council might consider hearing variance requests as an administrative body and render a decision by a motion to approve or disapprove the variance request. The motion would replace the current ordinance process.
Mr. Banchefsky explained that if a party wants to appeal the approval or disapproval of the variance they would have 30 days to file an administrative appeal under Section 2506 of the Ohio Revised Code. The court would hear the appeal, but the process is more abbreviated than a court filing such as would be required under the Village’s current process because the process is a hearing rather than a trial. Under a Section 2506 appeal, the Village would submit all the materials related to the decision to the court. Lawyers from each side would provide oral arguments and submit briefs. The court would then rule to uphold or overturn the Council’s action.
Mr. Banchefsky stated the Village’s current code would require minor changes to accommodate the revised process as he is recommending. He stated his opinion that the action by motion would be a better way to address variance requests than the current ordinance process.
Mr. Voelker asked if Ohio Code provides direction or defines the required process for non-charter villages to hear variance requests. Mr. Banchefsky said the Ohio Code does not direct municipalities, but gives the option for municipality to have a zoning appeal board. Mr. Voelker stated his understanding that the Council may act as an administrative body if it so chooses. Mr. Banchefsky confirmed Mr. Voelker’s statement of understanding. Mayor Studebaker stated the Council has always acted as the zoning board, but has taken action legislatively rather than by motion as an administrative body would normally act.
Ms. Siefkas asked if the court appeal process as described by Mr. Banchefsky would leave the option for a ballot initiative on the table. Mr. Banchefsky said it would not, although he reminded Council that citizens at any time may initiate an ordinance for ballot consideration.
Mayor Studebaker stated that rezoning would still be handled through the legislative process. Mr. Banchefsky confirmed that a variance or conditional uses are the only actions that would be addressed by motion rather than legislative action.
Mr. Cincione asked Council if they would consider establishing a building and zoning appeal board for the purpose of hearing variances. Mayor Studebaker commented that to date Council has not felt it necessary to establish a separate board.
Mr. Banchefsky stated that if a BZA were established the Council would determine if the Council would hear appeals or if appeals would still be handed through a Section 2506 process. Mr. Banchefsky stated that establishing a quorum at a BZA meeting can be difficult even for larger communities. Mr. Voelker stated that having the variance heard by an elected body rather than an appointed board has advantages as well.
Mr. Banchefsky stated Council will need to address in its new process the requirement to provide a 30 day waiting period to accommodate an appeal to a decision by motion. The code mandated required notice to neighboring property owners of a variance request would still be in force.
Council asked Mr. Banchefsky to draw up a resolution outlining the new process for Council to consider. They asked that the resolution address waiting period as well as the citizen appeal process.
ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT’S REPORT
Mr. Johannes reported he and Mayor Studebaker are recommending that Laura Oldham be retained to complete the redesign of the Village’s web site. Staff reviewed several provider options and agreed that Ms. Oldham is the preferred choice. Mr. Johannes stated the work will be completed for a not to exceed cost of $3,000. The work will include the web site design as well as logo and branding design.
Ms. Siefkas moved approval of up to $3,000 for web site redesign, logo and branding development by Starburst Media. Mr. Voelker seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Johannes reported the work to renovate the Falco Park plaza is moving forward. The bricks are engraved and will be reinstalled and the other restoration work will be completed as the weather allows.
Mr. Johannes reported that David Fisher, owner of Roxbury Arms Apartments, has proposed the removal of the maple trees on the west side of Roxbury Rd. in front of the Roxbury Arms apartments. Mr. Fisher has agreed to replace the trees with Village approved Ivory Silk Lilac trees which is a tree appropriate for a tree lawn with existing, overhead electrical wires. The work will be completed by the end of July. Residents have been notified.
Mr. Johannes reported two bids have been received for removing honeysuckle from Tarpy Woods. He stated he will be meeting with one other company to inspect the park and submit a proposal for the project. Mayor Studebaker stated the project will include removing honeysuckle bushes along the property lines between the park and several residences. Mr. Johannes stated he hopes to bring a recommended proposal to the next Council meeting. He anticipates the cost will be between $15,000 and $20,000. Mayor Studebaker stated the boy scouts re-mulched the trails in Tarpy Woods over the weekend. Wiley Elliott led the project with mulch provided by AEP. The scouts also lined the trail with trees which have fallen in the wooded area.
Mr. Johannes stated the biggest challenge will be getting equipment into the meadow area.
Mr. Johannes stated the honeysuckle will be removed using several different approaches including digging bushes out, cutting bushes down and treating stumps with herbicide. Several dead trees in the park have been identified for removal. Mr. Johannes has asked that tree removal be included with quotes. The work will be completed in late summer to early fall.
APPROVAL OF BILLS
Mr. Cincione moved approval of the April 2015 bills totaling $68,622.18. Mr. Kukura seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Voelker moved approval of the amended March 2015 bills totaling $75,366.45. Ms. Troiano seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
FISCAL OFFICER’S REPORT
No Fiscal Officer report was made.
COUNCIL MEMBER REPORTS
Ms. Troiano reported the Grandview Heights Parks and Recreation Board plans to have the memorial park statue installation completed by Memorial Day.
Ms. Troiano had nothing to report from Start Talking Grandview.
Ms. Troiano reported the Collaborative Work Group met with representatives from the school to discuss activities planned in the district and also discussed upcoming activities and plans for the library. The group discussed additional Wi-Fi service in the parks including Falco Park and Tarpy Woods.
Mr. Kukura reported the Falco Scholarship Committee plans to award six scholarships of $350 assuming Council approves Ordinance O-2463-15. There were initially 7 applicants, but one withdrew an application from consideration.
Mayor Studebaker introduced the first reading of O-2463-15, An Ordinance to amend Ordinance O-2441-14 (2015 APPROPRIATION ORDINANCE) to increase the appropriation to the Falco Scholarship Fund (9976) to $2,100.00.
Ms. Siefkas moved the rules be suspended. Mr. Sterneker seconded. The motion passed unanimously. Ms. Siefkas moved the adoption of O-2463-15. Mr. Kukura seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
Mayor Studebaker introduced the first reading of O-2460-15, An Ordinance authorizing the expenditure of funds; $ 5,000.00 to 2015 Grandview Heights High School Health & Wellness Project and declaring the expenditure to constitute a public purpose.
Ms. Troiano reported that she has been contacted by some Village residents who expressed their opposition to the Village providing financial support for the Health & Wellness Project. Mr. Cincione stated he had not received any comments in opposition. Mayor Studebaker commented that some of the comments are driven by the fact that the facility would not be available for the general public to utilize. Ms. Siefkas stated she heard from one resident who expressed opposition because of the other available sources for funding school activities and facilities. She stated the amount is well outside the amount of donations provided in the past by the Village.
Ms. Troiano stated that she would not be willing to vote in favor of the proposed ordinance. Mr. Voelker stated his respect for the opinions of others, but commented the Grandview School facilities pale in comparison to some of the schools that Grandview competes with in sports. He also expressed a concern for the continuing reduction of funding to schools from the state. Mr. Voelker stated that the strong schools contribute to the property values.
Mr. Kukura stated his opinion that the Village should focus on providing services to residents and stated his opposition to the proposed ordinance. Mr. Cincione stated that the Boosters have been successful with fund raising and decided to support the project with a gift of $50,000. Mr. Cincione stated the financial condition of the community is strong and he believes that the community can support the project. Mr. Kukura stated that he would prefer to spend Village money in the Village. He also stated that he has heard some resident opposition to the proposed ordinance.
Mr. Sterneker stated his general support of giving the money but acknowledged that the size of the gift might set an expectation for other groups that will be impossible to meet. He suggested establishing a policy and process to define parameters for the Village to make contributions to other entities. He suggested establishment of an annual budget or cap for such gifts. Mayor Studebaker reminded that Council appropriated $1000 for gifts in 2015. He also commented that over past years many gifts of $100- $500 were approved regularly. However, when the Village experienced financial concerns all gifting was suspended. In the past two years, some gifting has been approved.
Mayor Studebaker reported Grandview Heights is considering a request this evening at their meeting.
Mr. Cincione recommended that no action be taken and the ordinance be held for a second reading and additional consideration.
Mayor Studebaker introduced R-2458-15, A Resolution to amend the 2015 Revenue budget to reflect additional receipts into the Park Improvement Fund.
Mayor Studebaker explained the resolution is necessary because the actual receipts of the Park Improvement Fund have significantly exceeded the original budget estimate.
Mr. Kukura moved the adoption of R2458-15. Ms. Siefkas seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
Mayor Studebaker introduced the first reading of O-2459-15, An Ordinance to amend Ordinance 2441-14 to increase the appropriation to the Park Improvement Fund (2902) to $2,810.00.
Mayor Studebaker explained that the proposed ordinance will allow the Village to expend the Park Improvement Funds for the Falco Park Plaza improvements.
Mr. Kukura moved the rules be suspended. Mr. Cincione seconded. The motion passed unanimously. Mr. Voelker moved the adoption of O-2459-15. Ms. Troiano seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
Mayor Studebaker introduced the first reading of O-2461-15, An Ordinance to amend Ordinance O-2441-14 (2015 APPROPRIATION ORDINANCE) to increase the appropriation to the General Fund (1000) to $1,579,176.
Mayor Studebaker explained that Ordinance O-2461-15 is related to Ordinance O-2460-15. Because no action was taken on O-2460-15 no action is required on O-2461-15 at this time.
No action was taken.
Mayor Studebaker introduced the first reading of O-2462-15, An Ordinance adopting a budget for the year 2016 for the Village of Marble Cliff.
Mayor Studebaker stated Ms. McKay will bring additional budget information to the regular May Council meeting.
No Action was taken.
Ms. Troiano moved the meeting be adjourned. Mr. Sterneker seconded. The motion passed unanimously. Mayor Studebaker adjourned the meeting at 8:50 PM.
Approved by: Submitted by:
Matthew P. Cincione Cynthia A. McKay
Council President Pro Tem Fiscal Officer