Despite a variety of event cancelations forced by COVID-19, Plain City children will still be able to look forward to Trick-or-Treat.
Council members agreed to set the time for 3-5 p.m. Halloween, Saturday, Oct. 31.
During Wednesday’s Council Work Session, members discussed either setting a time specifically for the village or deferring to the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC).
Council agreed with President Pro Tem Jody Carney’s suggestion to “set our own trend.”
She also recommended setting the time earlier in the day to “give more daylight,” especially for younger children.
Council members Shannon Pine and John Rucker also pushed for the early evening, adding they wanted to avoid children Trick-or-Treating while other residents could be hosting Halloween parties or get-togethers.
“We need to have kids off the street before it gets too late,” Rucker said.
Along with keeping Trick-or-Treaters away from any large gatherings, Carney said an earlier time may allow families to socially distance and spread out over a longer period of time.
Council member Frank Reed agreed, but expressed concern that the time may be too early to feel like a traditional Halloween.
“When I was a kid, if someone would’ve told me Halloween would be 3-5 (p.m.), I would’ve been real disappointed,” Reed said.
Carney responded, “I think they’ll be excited we have the date and stick to it.”
Ultimately, Reed said he would “defer to people who are closer to having children than I am.”
Parks Impact Fees and Rate Updates
In light of anticipated development in the village, council agreed to consider increasing Plain City’s parks impact fee.
Cahall explained that developers or property owners are required to allocate a portion of their land for green space, or the village can direct them to provide the value of that land to be placed in escrow for the purchase of future park land.
Currently, Cahall said $500 is assessed on each residential unit for a parks impact fee.
Compared to nearby municipalities, including West Jefferson, London, Pickerington, Marysville, Westerville and Grove City, Cahall said the village’s fee was lower than an average of $827.
“We are in the bottom half of the herd,” he said.
His analysis of other communities also noted that Plain City does not have a hotel tax or separate levy generating revenue for parks or recreation.
Cahall added that Plain City’s parks impact fee has not been reviewed or adjusted since the 1990s.
For those reasons, he recommended staff consider increasing it to between $750 and $1,000 per residential unit.
Pine and Rucker agreed with upping the fee, adding they felt council should take action soon.
“Given the amount of projected growth over the next coming years, the sooner we act, the better, obviously,” he said.
Rucker said he felt the fee should be increased, but asked to hear from Parks and Recreation Director Linda Granger, to compare the fee to the Parks Master Plan and projected funding needs.
“I can get ahead of Linda on that one, John… in parks capital (fund), we are broke,” Cahall responded.
Carney said she felt $1,000 was “warranted,” because many prospective homeowners are younger families who will take advantage of park land.
Pine suggested the fee first be increased to $1,000, then the village can assess “how that grows our fund.”
Cahall said the increase will be reflected in the 2021 budget that will appear before council in the coming weeks.
He said council will also vote on another piece of legislation soon, which would allow staff to initiate changes to parks and recreation and pool rates.
To adjust rates, Cahall said any revision currently requires three readings by council and a 30-day tail before enacted.
The proposed legislation would allow staff to adjust rates, then provide council with written notification and 30 days to review the changes or allow them.
Old Elementary School Crosswalk
Although council previously recommended moving the crosswalk in front of the old elementary school building, Cahall said it appears to be safer to keep it at its current location on W. Main Street.
“At the end of the day, ironically, the best location is to leave the crosswalk where it is with enhanced signage and the like,” he said.
He said the proposed location shift to Mechanic Street brought “two horizontal curves into the mix, from a line of sight (perspective),” in addition to street parking on both sides of the roadway and a change in speed limit.
Instead, Cahall said staff would like to add flashing, push button signals and an electronic sign over the center line at the current location. He said a parallel parking space in the area will also be eliminated to increase visibility.
Since “everything is wired, for the most part, from the old traffic signal,” he said it will cost approximately $4,500. It will likely be completed this year, using from the street operating budget.
Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
Village Administrator Nathan Cahall said he recently attended a meeting with officials from Madison County, London, West Jefferson and Mt. Sterling regarding grant funding available to install electric vehicle charging stations.
The Ohio Public Works Commission (OPWC) has allocated $115,000 for Madison County to install charging locations.
Cahall noted that the funding is available because of an earlier lawsuit involving Volkswagen, meaning 100% of the project will be covered by the grant.
He asked council to approve staff’s desire to submit an application for a charging station in the new municipal parking lot and possibly another in the Uptown region.
Cahall said the hope is individuals who use the charging stations would patronize local businesses or restaurants while their vehicle is parked there.
Pine said she felt strongly that the village should apply, while Rucker and Council member Sherry Heineman said they felt more neutral, as they would not use an electric charging station.
However, because the project would be completely grant-funded, they concurred with Pine’s recommendation.
“If we can get money, get money,” Rucker said.
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