CIRCLEVILLE — Circleville City Council met this week both as a full council and in committee to share updates and discuss legislative measures including making changes to appointed boards.

Council unanimously approved a measure to change the make-up of the tree commission reducing membership from seven members to five to avoid conflicts of interest with the city and state for grant purposes.

“This is an amendment to legislation that passed a few years ago to establish for the first time at tree commission,” Tom Spring, council member, said. “It was suggested that the seven member board be reduced to five by removal of the service director and the urban forester from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.”

Spring said both members can continue to advice and support the board, but just won’t be voting members.

“[The urban forester] may be able to help us find grants and if they’re on the tree commission that could post a conflict,” he continued.

Also during the meeting two residents spoke on Ted Lewis Park and the removal of the skate park to make way for the new playground equipment and splash pad on the northeast quadrant of the park.

Ron Dunn and Torion Lowe spoke at the meeting on the topic of the park.

“There’s got to be something we can do to keep these kids off drugs and to keep them from breaking into people’s vehicles and being stupid,” Dunn said. “They made that mess down there that morning and it’s not done one thing. I had to watch those kids that didn’t know the skate park wasn’t there…and see the looks on their faces. It would have brought a tear to your eyes. It was sad.”

Lowe echoed much of what Dunn said, asking what the city was doing for teenage residents.

“The teenagers have to have a way to release stress,” Lowe commented. “As teenagers we went down there to hang out to release stress and to just have fun. There’s literally nothing in this town for teenagers at all.”

Paul Hang, chair of the Circleville Tree Commission, informed city council of a recent $5,000 grant provided by DuPont to plant trees in the city. Those trees will be planted on Friday, Nov. 15 starting at 9 a.m.

Committee of the Whole:

The Committee of the Whole met prior to city council in which council members Michelle Blanton and Sheri Theis presented full council with information and updates on the proposed combination of Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP) centers.

Theis told the fellow members of council that they are working to schedule a meeting with Zuercher Technologies, the software company behind the 911 system, to understand more about the city’s potential future costs before presenting all the information they’ve found with fellow council members.

Barry Keller, council member, suggested that depending on the information received that a mediator should be brought in to finalize any combination of PSAPs.

“An independent mediator, negotiator, whatever that person’s called to come in and say I’m going to listen to your side and I’m going to listen to your side and here’s my recommendation for a path forward,” Keller said.

Blanton said part of that was to go to Zuercher to find out what the city’s actual costs moving forward would be and compare that to what the county is offering as part of the report.

Blanton said she and Theis would likely finish their report into the new year and making the two new council members aware of their findings. A suggestion was made for March 1 as a potential deadline for submission but Theis said they won’t need that long.

“If we can get the [Zuercher] meeting in the next couple of weeks then it should fall into place,” Theis said. “I don’t think we need several meetings after that to make our decision.”

Also during the meeting the committee approved forwarding on an ordinance to create a board of zoning appeals, which will be read on council floor at the next meeting on Nov. 19.

Tom Spring, council member, said after the meeting the purpose of the split in his mind was two-fold.

“Half of it is so the planning commission can plan as is the responsibility and the other half is to take politics out of the hearing process,” he said.

Spring said planning and amendments to zoning law and map are legislative processes and hearings on appeals and requests for variances from strict application of zoning law because of practical compliance difficulties and conditional uses are administrative matters involving weighing evidence and applying existing law as it is written.

“Decisions on administrative matters are quasi-judicial requiring unbiased decision makers and processes that protect constitutional due process to all parties at the hearing,” he said. “It is hard for one body to do both legislative and quasi-judicial functions well which while the overwhelming practice in cities and township is to have separate boards to focus on legislative or administrative matters, not both.

“The upshot here in Circleville is that the commission holds hearings but have very little time for planning,” Spring continued. “It’s the old adage that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Both planning and the hearings are crucial to the city.”

Safety Committee:

The Safety Committee met Monday to discuss the 2020 police and fire capital fund budgets and heard from Police Chief Shawn Baer and Fire Chief Brian Thompson on their priorities for capital projects in 2020.

Baer indicated his priority would be new police cruisers and Thompson said his priorities would be funding for grant writing and matching grants for the purchase of a new EMS and new engine/rescue truck.

Several meetings were announced during and after the meetings, including a Service Committee meeting on Nov. 26 at 7 p.m., A finance Committee meeting on Nov. 12 at 6 p.m. to discuss the 2020 budget and the The City of Circleville Park Commission will hold a meeting to hear feedback on the Ted Lewis Skateboard Park on Monday, Nov. 11 at 6 p.m. All meetings will be held in Circleville City Council Chambers, located at City Hall 130 South Court Street, Circleville.

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