council

All posts tagged council

Short and hot council meeting

Published October 15, 2018 by justicewg

https://youtu.be/OLn9jf13emE?t=56s

A very unusual council meeting happened tonight, most are long and boring, this one was the opposite.

Two observations:

Changing the meeting notes of a BZA meeting – or any meeting – so that they support the illusion that a politician (or city official) wants to project, and not the objective facts as they happened at the meeting, is a very serious thing. I don’t have access to the documents that were presented at this council meeting, so I can’t comment on the validity of Ms Oster’s complaint. I do know what it feels like to see meeting notes falsified, and I don’t like it. I will support any investigation the council makes into the matter.

Second, once again we get to see city attorney Khouzam rend her garments, and weep about how she is so offended that someone would have the impertinence to “question her integrity”. When someone has to give us sermons about their integrity over and over, you begin to wonder why. Something about a lady doth protest? The exit is right in front of you Ms Khouzam, if it is too hot in that chamber.

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City might take responsibility for repairing sidewalks

Published October 9, 2018 by justicewg

Sidewalk no on 6The city requires all homeowners to maintain the sidewalk between your house and the street, and if you get the “green X of shame”, you will soon be receiving a letter that tells you to fix it, or the city will repair it and send you a bill. The city of Marble Cliff maintains all sidewalks by themselves, and doesn’t require homeowner repairs. Grandview Heights city council is looking at following our neighbor to the west and might start taking responsibility for sidewalk repair into a part of the city service provisions.

Sidewalks belong to you

The history of sidewalks begins in the dense housing of major metropolitan areas. Most houses were set near the street, and the sidewalk was considered a part of the porch of your home. You made the sidewalk as a courtesy for those walking by, but it wasn’t a requirement. At some point it was noted that sidewalks were vital for keeping walkers out of the street and away from traffic, and cities started requiring the construction and maintenance of sidewalks (but ownership of that strip of land was still kept by the private owner).

Letter from the city

Although we know that the tax assessment from the city is an ever growing expense, we can budget for that twice yearly bill. The notice from the city that requires sidewalk replacement is an unplanned shock to most, the thousands of dollars needed to do a complete replacement can throw budgets out of whack, and inspire epic rants on the unfairness of “the goberment tellin’ me what to do”. You have no recourse when it is time to do the repair (unless the city decides a tree caused the issue *).

In order to forestall the anger and pleading that some homeowners are sure to make over a sidewalk repair, many cities have started to fold the sidewalks into the general services of street construction and maintenance. Cities can schedule sidewalks fixed by a contractor as a bulk job, usually cheaper that an individual owners can negotiate. It also helps keep the city safe for those with mobility issues, if a wheelchair user can’t use a sidewalk because of a high lip between slabs, they use the street instead, and increase the risk of accidents.

Email from Reynolds Read the rest of this entry →

Councilman is opposed to appeal of Green Space ordinance

Published August 27, 2018 by justicewg

UPDATE!  Secretary Husted broke the Board of Elections’ tie vote in favor of putting the Proposed Ordinance on the November 2018 ballot. If you want to read a post that practically has the winning lawyer doing a victory dance in front of the city administration, read the post on the Join Grandview website.

What happens next is up to the city, but they really need to understand that the time for legal fighting is over. They can organize opposition to the vote, but can’t spend any city money.

 

I try to stay neutral in political issues in Grandview, unless it appears there is a clear reason to side with some position in a local dispute. I’ve looked at all the arguments over the Green Space initiative, and I have to agree with them at least on the process – they have done everything by the book. They should have their ordinance on the ballot. Read the reasoning for allowing the voters to decide the issue in this post on their website

https://joingrandview.com/2018/08/22/the-trouble-with-the-citys-protest-of-the-proposed-ordinance/

I emailed the Mayor and all of the council members with my opinion on the Green Space ordinance appeal, and at this point have one response, from Steve Reynolds. My email is after the jump, first the email from Reynolds.

Thanks for your feedback.  I can’t express an opinion as to the initiative itself.  I also cannot speak for my fellow Councilmembers; however, I can say I am disappointed that tax dollars are being spent to “protect” residents from voting on the matter.  The legal maneuvering is not an action that has been voted on by Council.  It is being brought forth by the Mayor, the City Attorney, and the other attorneys who were hired to wage this battle. – SReynolds@grandviewheights.org

I’m a little unclear on Reynold’s claim that he can’t express an opinion on the initiative, Ohio law says the city should not be spending money to oppose the ordinance, but they still have the right to express their opinion. I guess if you count using the city email system to answer questions as spending money, that makes sense, but in a technical and not practical way.

His opposition to the Mayor spending city money on further appeals is the correct function for a council member, the Mayor holds administrative control of city funds, but the council is the final arbiter over the use of those public funds. I think if the city council had a majority belief that the city should stop spending money on appeals, and voted to direct the Mayor to let the vote be held in November, the Mayor will have to stop all court actions.

Let all the council members, and the Mayor, know what you think about the Green Space Ordinance.

Council@grandviewheights.org, rdegraw@grandviewheights.org

(Update) Council president Kearns is backing the Mayor.

What is so bad about the Elmwood house?

The reason that the Green Space initiative was inspired was because the locals wanted to keep the area looking the same as it has for many years. As I understand the dispute, it wasn’t so much that the Elmwood property was split, but that the house the owner wanted to build was so out of place in the area. An important aid in making that decision was the renderings of the plans for the house (or would have been if they were presented to the BZA).

Those renderings are now up on the Join Grandview website. Check them out and make your own judgement on the proposed home.

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City of Grandview Heights – Comprehensive Community Planning process

Published February 2, 2018 by justicewg

(update – the first city planning meeting is scheduled on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 at the Shelter at Wyman Woods at 7:00 p.m.)

Presentation at Jan 16 meeting

The city of Grandview Heights is starting a comprehensive community planning process, it might seem familiar to those who have attended the school’s facility planning meetings, but the city planning meetings are much wider in scope. Commercial development, residential development, neighborhoods, pedestrian safety and walk-ability, city finance – the whole gamut of issues the city council must plan for are going to be up for public discussion.

This post will be a little confusing, because of the way the city posted the information on YouTube. The city council meeting with the presentation is in one video (above), the graphics on the screen behind the speaker are on another video.

10:00 start of presentation. If I heard right, Greg Dale was the man giving the presentation.

11:10 Discussed the work the council did at a workshop on Nov. 30 2017. There were photos of five whiteboards worth of discussion points from that meeting. The focus of that meeting was for the council to discuss the “forces and trends” on the community. Thirty trends were written down, and 24 of what were called priority issues.

12:20 Presenter stressed that the material on the board was a snapshot of one day of work from the council, and the forces and trends will be changed as the wider community is brought in to the process.

13:50 The guy doing the presentation said that the use of the word “zeitgeist” in the workshop was the first time he had heard that word used in 30 years of meetings. It is a perfectly cromulent word! He says the the planning process is not a set process, that there is an “art” to defining a community and its issues.

15:00 The zeitgeist slide attempted to highlight the different groups who need to work together – “new vs old Grandview”, young people vs retired, rich vs less rich (no poor people in Grandview). The council seemed to want to work to reconcile the differences in the city, and not shut out those who are normally left out. The question this slide brings up is, how do you get to parts of the community that are least willing to attend meetings? Young people are tough to reach.

16:20 Neighborhoods and build slide. Lots of issues with density and how to allow multi-family buildings while preserving old single family areas.

17:48 Public realm slide. Talking about traffic and walk-ability issues. Infrastructure and green space. They even wanted to discuss how autonomous vehicles will change parking in the city. (I’m with atrios on this, self driving cars are still 20 years away.)

18;50 Public services and facilities. There was a repeat of a line I heard from the Mayor, that as Grandview attracts more higher income people, they will be expecting more services, like a big recreation complex. Maybe, but the town is still small, and runs into funding issues that Grandview Yard taxes are probably not going to completely solve.

19:30 Resiliency. This one seemed like a good idea, but there are no simple solutions. Yes, the city should be able to roll with the punches that the future might bring, but that is sort of the opposite of setting a course for the future, and sticking to the plan.

Comment from the presentation guy “I have never felt more uncertain about the future than I am right now”. Great! Let’s plot a course to the future, while the deck of the ship is rolling all over the place!

22:15 Public Facilities and the public planning. This is where a lot of meetings to be held will converge with planning the buildings that are needed in the future. Too much here, read the slide. The thing that I got out of it was that the overall community planning might be one track of meetings that takes a whole year, but the meetings that are focused on facilities might be a separate track that splits off and has its own time line. The council and the Mayor are ready to build, and they want it soon.

From what the presenter says this night, the council is so ready to move into the facilities process that not only do they want a separate track, they don’t want to wait for any completion of the more general planning process. I think this is a big mistake.

First, splitting off facilities detracts from the focus of the more general process. The community only has a limited attention span, and ability to attend meetings. Splitting off into two tracks will make both less focused, and less attended.

Second, the general planning track graphic shows a bubble that says “Capital and Facilities recommendations ”, and that is AFTER the split of the facilities track? The implication is that there will be two different plans for the facilities, worked on by two different groups. That is way too confusing to explain to the community.

As much as the council is chomping at the bit to get to work on the facilities, I think the general planning track needs to get done with the recommendation phase before the facility track starts.

This is my own comment to the council on the issues of city facilities. Yes, we know that the police and the fire departments need better buildings. We got that back in the 90’s, when the city tried twice to pass levies, and failed. Don’t try to manipulate the process, don’t push too hard, because the public knows when they are being scammed. The school board is about to learn that lesson when their levies for a $50 million school fail big time. Don’t follow their lead.

Above all, make all parts of the process open for inspection (don’t use the T word, the board has made it toxic). Everything should be open for public attendance, everything recorded, videos made, posted up on the web.

Videos posted of meetings

The first large public meeting of the planning process on April 10 was posted to YT.

The Steering Committee is the sub-group that will manage the public meetings, they had a May 17 meeting and posted it on YT.

Watching Grandview Heights in 2017

Published December 31, 2017 by justicewg

This year contained some end points, like the opening of the new Grandview swimming pool, but it was more about the continuation of projects that had been in the works for years. Next year might be the time for a final decision on the school facilities, or the plans for a new city office building. Here are the news stories that had people visiting this website.

Bomb threat at PNC Bank

pnc-bank-bomb

A bank robber at the PNC bank on First Ave caused the first major story of January 2017. The street was closed and lockdowns in place at all the schools until bomb squad members determined that the bag left outside didn’t contain explosives. By February the Grandview Heights police announced they had a suspect in custody. Karl Schlenker, 60, of Cranford, New Jersey, was arrested at his home without incident.

I can find nothing online about a trial, so I guess it is possible Schlenker might still be walking the streets of Columbus after he posted bond and was released.

A reader found the info on the case, Schlenker plead guilty and was sentenced to 4 years, 9 months in jail. He is still appealing the sentence (from jail), if I am reading the casework correctly. Also, prior convictions were mentioned in the sentencing, so this was not a guy who just broke bad at 60 years old.

School facilities recommendation, and Good for Grandview group formed

culp-leads-laughter

The school board ramped up the public meetings to study the facilities at the schools this year, options for possible building plans were first presented at a May meeting. The school quickly narrowed choices down to three by June, and after an open to all (and hackable) online survey, superintendent Culp determined that the outcome of the process supported the “Tear down the middle school” option.

Some of the parents and community members who attended the facilities meetings got together, and decided they couldn’t agree with Culp’s recommendation. The Good for Grandview group posted a website with their complaints with the process the school used to chose a facility plan, and a warning that the cost of the new construction was just too expensive for this small community. As of December 31, 2017, they have 276 signatures on an online petition to the school board (March 2018, 325 sigs).

The board has remained absolutely silent about the G4G group. Culp had some jargon filled responses, but he rejected all direct questions. Two new board members will join the board in 2018, but past experience indicates there is little chance they will deflect the board from its current path.

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Quick answers from council candidates – part 2

Published November 3, 2017 by justicewg

Link to part 1

(Edit after the election – the three candidates who responded to my questions received the most votes, and Panzera also was re-elected. Not sure if any positions held by these candidates were deciding factors, as the conventional wisdom goes, working hard on door knocking and answering all questions seemed to be way to gain office.)

Melanie Houston

Neglected issues – Houston makes a good point about the lack of park space in Grandview, we are low in terms of per capita park space, and have no “wild” areas. I don’t know where we can find more space inside the present city boundaries though. Maybe connect the community garden with the McKinley Field Park (the strip in the back by the tracks is already owned by the city). Buying and tearing down the homes south of Goodale has been suggested in the past, but that doesn’t really feel like greenspace when it has trains a few yards away. Increasing park space is a good topic for the council, I would like to see more discussion, maybe it would be part of the community planning process that has been mentioned in the past.

More about money and parks in this 2016 story on Wallace gardens.

Medical marijuana – Houston says she believes medical marijuana as a viable treatment option for our community members, but she got no requests to support dispensaries in Grandview while door knocking. She also has the “but what about the children?” worries, and correctly assumes that some other town in the area will have no problem taking in the taxes that will be generated.

Apparently Grandview council had no issues with allowing the sale of alcohol at the Ox Roast (approved in 2016 by unanimous votes), which somehow didn’t trigger any “but what about the children?” worries. Someday there will be acceptance of the facts about which drug is the real danger, we have a way to go on that issue.

School facilities – There has been a long discussed plan to somehow make a community recreation facility that could be shared by the schools. Houston also likes the idea. Where to find the millions needed to build a indoor pool and track facility has always been the stumbling block. Houston mentions a paid pass system as a possibility, but that still puts the funding problems on the schools.

The logistics of how to share a rec center, while keeping random people away from school kids, has never been explained in the plans I have read. And recreation facilities is not the problem, finding funds to build new schools is the current puzzle for the board.

A funny things that happened on the way to office – someone told Houston she looked better than her campaign literature. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess this was a guy who was on the make, or at least well trained in responding to “do I look good in this photo” questions. Still looking for the candidate who can bring the funny.

Full answers after the jump, more Q and A’s will be posted here if the last two guys respond.

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Quick answers from council candidates – fall 2017

Published October 29, 2017 by justicewg

The five candidates for four council seats have been out knocking on doors and attending meetings to answer questions from the public. They are still open to questions from emails, here are a few that I thought had not been done in the past. Responses from the candidates are posted in the order they gave me their replies.

Come back to this post for updates, I will add new commentary to the front page as I read through the responses, and the full text of the answers from the politicians will be added after the jump.

Greta Kearns, current council member

Question about policy that has not been given enough thought – she mentioned a comprehensive community planning project, which has been talked about by other council members. I’m not sure that it is a missing topic for the average voter in the community, these planning sessions are generally boring and don’t really engage the attendees.

The issue is the same one that made the school facility planning session a dud, they asked the parents to attend days of sessions, get deep into the weeds on policy, but there was no payout for that work. The final vote on facility options was open to anyone, and easily hackable. And the board was clear that they can dump the recommendations and go their own way. I don’t have a solution for this problem, but I would like there to be an admission that a problem exists.

Medical Marijuana is a no for Kerns. She sites reasons that are similar to the Tobacco 21 and minor bike helmet legislation, if a drug is bad for kids (or a lack of a helmet), we should not allow it in Grandview.

Relationship with the School board. Kearns says there is no problem ( but since she is the the School Liaison, she would say that). The competition for property tax can be solved, according to her, if city can add all needed improvements without a tax increase. That will be quite a trick to build a new fire and police station (which she supports) without new taxes. She doesn’t see any way to share facilities with the school.

A funny things that happened on the way to office – I guess the resident who answered his door wearing only a toga and a cowboy hat was sort of funny. I guess you had to be there.

Chris Smith, council V.P.

Neglected issues – I like the discussion on public transport, as a metro area Columbus has neglected transportation for so long it gives us a negative image for any business looking to relocate to the area. Why would someone want to develop in a city that had no public transportation other than old buses and roads that are fast becoming constant traffic snarls? Unfortunately it is a regional problem that can’t be solved by Grandview city council.

Smith said that Medical Marijuana businesses would “probably not the wisest use for commercial property in the city.” And given that the city of Columbus will probably have no issues with the dispensaries, and the taxes they pay, there will not be a problem finding a near by dispensary. But if we have full access to Medical Marijuana, but chose to let someone else get all the tax money, does that really make sense?

Smith agrees that there are issues in communication between the city and the school board. He doesn’t have a solution other than “we need to work hard”. He did mention the re-negotiation with NRI at the Yard will allow the bonds to be paid quicker, allowing the schools to boost tax income sooner.

Smith did have a good story about a long rant from a resident during a door knock session. I would call it more poignant than funny. I guess nothing really funny can be expected from politicians.

More full answers from candidates will be added after the jump.

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