After addressing many of their 2019 goals, Plain City Council is gearing up for another productive year.
“Council set some ambitious objectives last year and we got most of them,” said Village Administrator Nathan Cahall.
During Wednesday’s council work session, village officials discussed plans for the upcoming year.
2020 goals include: completing the Park Master Plan, finalizing the 208 Plan, zoning code updates, creating transparency with residents, Comprehensive Plan implementation, water and sewer plans and disposition of properties.
While council addressed a majority of last year’s goals, members agreed there is still work to be done for several of them.
Of the goals carried over from last year, many are on their way to completion.
For instance, Cahall said the Park Master Plan should be ready for the Parks and Recreation Committee to review in February.
Additionally, he said progress is being made with the zoning code.
Cahall said village staff previously sought input from Ohio State University professors and graduate students regarding the zoning code. He said staff received feedback and suggestions, but there are still many updates that need to be made.
A comprehensive rewrite of the zoning code would cost the village “in the high five, or six figures,” according to Cahall.
However, he said there are some more urgent points that can be addressed.
He said an October Supreme Court decision resulted in a ruling that council has 30 days to vote on subdivision plans, or they are approved as submitted.
Plans generally take longer than 30 days to go through the planning and zoning committee as well as council. So, Cahall said staff recommends only one entity be designated as the platting authority.
Although no official decisions have been made, council members said they felt comfortable with delegating authority to the planning and zoning committee.
“Right now, going to council is pretty much a formality anyways,” council member Darren Lee said.
Council member Shannon Pine also suggested prioritizing updates to the conditional and permitted use tables, as she said they are “extremely outdated.”
Also, village officials are continuing last year’s work to improve communication with residents.
Council member Jody Carney mentioned an earlier suggestion to create a quarterly newsletter. She said it would also be helpful to host subject-specific open houses throughout the year.
Perhaps the largest goal discussed Wednesday was implementation of the comprehensive plan, as council members brought up multiple objectives within the goal.
Pine suggested creating a streetscape plan to improve things such as light poles, directional signage and landscaping throughout the village.
In conjunction, Carney said working on “city branding” could help improve the image of the village.
Cahall said the comprehensive plan considerations should include the “disposition of properties” owned by the village.
Since the new municipal building will be complete in the near future, he said council will need to decide how the “village complex” should be used.
“We’re really a unique seller of property because we’re as interested in the sale price as the community benefit,” he said.
As a village, Cahall explained that Plain City only has two options for municipal properties: they can be donated to the school district or posted for public auction.
The properties can be rented or leased, but only repurposed if the village retains ownership.
He said council has time to consider how they would like to move forward, but should keep it on their radar in the new year.
“This is a strategically located piece of property and you really only get one swing at the baseball,” Cahall said.
Beyond deciding what to do with current properties, Mayor Darrin Lane suggested the village attempt to start acquiring park land.
He said Plain City should capitalize on opportunities to do so, as several neighboring municipalities have had trouble with it.
Lane also asked council to incorporate plans to “get the semis off of Bigelow (Avenue)” into the comprehensive plan.
Police Chief Dale McKee said creating an alternate route, such as a connector road, may be the most feasible option.
Lane agreed, adding that the village already has an economic interest in developing the U.S. 42 corridor.
Council will finalize a list of goals during the Jan. 13 regular council meeting.
In other business:
– Returning council member John Rucker and new member Frank Reed were sworn in.
– Council discussed purchasing and implementing agenda management software that would allow for digital council packets and village documents.
Fiscal officer Renee Sonnett said the meeting packets would also be made available to the public, which would align with the council goal to create transparency.
Staff is currently considering a program called CivicClerk, which includes a $1,100 one-time set-up training cost, as well as a $3,000 fee for the first year.
Plain City council members sworn in
During Wednesday’s Plain City Council work session, two council members were sworn in. Pictured is Mayor Darrin Lane, at right in both photos, swearing in returning member John Rucker, above, and new member Frank Reed, below. Rucker is now the most senior member of Village Council and Reed is filling a seat left open by former council member Kerri Ferguson, who did not seek reelection. (Journal-Tribune photos by Kayleen Petrovia)
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