Plain City’s mayor recently told council members and residents he feels working to support local businesses also means accepting changes in the village.
During the most recent council meeting, members voted to approve an ordinance that will allow restaurants to add outdoor seating areas.
Restaurants will have to apply for a permit to do so and pay an annual fee, which will be decided by council in a later vote.
The measure passed by a 4-2 vote, with council members Frank Reed and Sherry Heineman dissenting.
Reed has previously been outspoken in his opposition to the ordinance. During council meetings and work sessions, Reed has frequently referenced his concerns surrounding The Grainery, owned by Tim Dawson.
Prior to the vote, Mayor Darrin Lane spoke about his connection to Dawson through their work in the automotive industry.
He said he feels Dawson received backlash against his projects in Uptown Plain City because of certain residents’ “hatred for me and his affiliation with me.”
Lane said he wanted to emphasize the fact that Dawson “has received every permit he needed on the Village’s behalf – everything he needed from us to do any work he was doing.”
The mayor said the building inspector has received calls from individuals arguing Dawson does not have proper permits to work on his properties. He said public officials disagree with that claim.
“The opinion of two attorneys, the village solicitor and the building department trumps the opinion of anyone else,” he said.
In response, Reed said he feels as though opposition to Dawson’s work and the ordinance have “nothing to do with personality.”
He said disagreements revolve around different opinions regarding the village’s zoning ordinances. Reed said some people want to maintain the history of Uptown buildings while others, “at the extreme, don’t give a whack about historic preservation.”
Lane said he respects everyone’s perspective, but the scenario frustrates him because he does not feel the complaints are based in fact.
“Change is inevitable and people are going to be kicking and screaming the entire way,” he said.
As Plain City grows, Council President Pro Tem Jody Carney said she is meeting with the Union County Chamber of Commerce to discuss tourism in the area.
She said the Chamber of Commerce expressed a desire to “enhance the Plain City portion of the Chamber” by identifying areas that would benefit from tourism development.
Carney said restaurants that are unique to the village, like The Grainery, help draw tourists to Plain City. She said they can be used for stops on group bus tours and similar events that encourage people to travel to the area.
“I commend Mr. Dawson for his investment to the village… I support your business as well as any business we have,” she said.
Carney said she will continue to work with the Chamber of Commerce over the next year to improve the village’s branding and communication efforts.
She said she plans to share further updates at the August 12 council work session.
In other business:
– Council discussed staffing plans for the Plain City Police Department.
Police Chief Dale McKee said the department previously received approval to hire a new officer this fall. However, another officer recently resigned.
McKee asked if the department could seek two candidates since the village’s subscription to an online, national testing service for officers ends in August.
Council members John Rucker and Darren Lee voiced support for the chief’s suggestion.
“I also think it’s a great idea, it seems like a way to streamline the process a little bit,” Council member Shannon Pine added.
– Fiscal Officer Renee Sonnett said the village reviewed a request for proposals regarding a new banking provider and will be using Middlefield Banking Company.
– Village Administrator Nathan Cahall said he and Sonnett are working on a 2021 budget draft that he expects to be in front of the finance committee and capital improvements committee in August.
He said the proposed budget will “require staff to make some tough decisions on the capital side of things.”
The “reduction in income tax… wipes out the end-of-year carryover,” he said, so council members will need to decide whether to push back certain capital improvement projects or divide them into multiple phases.
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