Hazardous road worries Martins Ferry councilman

T-L Photo/SHELLEY HANSON MARTINS FERRY Mayor Robert Krajnyak, center, signs paperwork as Council President Kristine Davis and Service Director Chris Cleary talk before Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

MARTINS FERRY — Councilman Bruce Shrodes expressed concern Wednesday about the potentially dangerous state of a city road used daily by Martins Ferry students and bus drivers such as himself.

Shrodes said a section of Alumni Road, which he termed the “back road” to the Martins Ferry City Schools complex, has deteriorated even more since he last complained about its state.

Service Director Chris Cleary said the city has patched it in the past year, but it has become damaged again.

Shrodes, a bus driver for the school district, said the city needs to install a temporary traffic light to force motorists to take turns using the undamaged lane. He said as a bus driver, he does not use the damaged lane, but instead waits for oncoming traffic to clear in the opposite direction and then uses the opposing lane.

“It’s a hazard. … We have to do something up there,” Shrodes said.

He noted the main road to the school, Ayers Limestone Road, also has issues, but still is passable.

In other matters, Paul Prater, a spokesman for American Electric Power Ohio, said AEP plans to remove old electric meters from residents’ property and replace them with new “smart meters.” He said the work is expected to begin during the first quarter of 2018. Residents will be notified beforehand, and Prater noted workers will not be required to enter homes, and should not ask to enter homes.

After the meter is installed, AEP can read the meters remotely, meaning a worker will not have to be sent to people’s homes for readings.

Prater said the replacement process should only take minutes and residents do not need to be home during the process.

Meanwhile, council heard the first reading of an ordinance to prohibit medical marijuana-related businesses and/or home occupations in the city. The ordinance notes the ban is in “the interest of preserving the city’s character and ambiance.” Under Ohio law, municipalities have the right to forbid establishments such as medical marijuana dispensaries, from opening within their borders.

Bellaire Village Council recently voted to ban dispensaries from ever opening there, while St. Clairsville City Council this week tabled a similar proposed ban.

A local businessman, Ron Naylor, is in the running for approval to open a medical marijuana dispensary in Belmont County. If approved by the state, Naylor plans to open his shop, which will sell marijuana-infused oils, salves and pills via prescription at the former Belmont Savings Bank building in Lansing.

Mayor Robert Krajnyak deemed the recent Winterfest celebration in the city a success, noting he has received nothing but praise for the event organized by the Project Forward group. The two-day event, held Nov. 24-25, included live music, a beer garden with TVs, a visit from Santa, tree lighting, the annual Christmas parade, ice skating, a craft fair, food and more.

“People are looking forward to it next year, and I’ve already been contacted by entertainers who would like to come over for those two days,” he said. “It was great.”

In other business:

∫ Council approved allowing the Belmont County Port Authority to sell the old city garage on First Street to Michael Baker, who owns the Wilson Blacktop business near the building, for $75,000. The sale’s proceeds will come back to the city from the county.

∫ Council Clerk Lee Ann Cleary is planning to resign from her position with the city. Although her official letter notes her last day is Dec. 31, she said she will remain in the job until the city can find a replacement. She cited the demands of her full-time job at the Ohio County Public Library in Wheeling as a reason for her decision.

∫ Councilman John Davies said possible plans for a company to open a group home for recovering alcohol and drug addicts in a duplex in the 200 block of Seventh Street will remain just that, as according to the city’s zoning laws, the property is zoned Residential 1. Group homes can only be in Residential 2 zones, he said.

Davies noted the neighborhood also has many children in it and a school bus stop is situated in front of the building, making it a bad location for such a facility.

∫ Cleary said the city continues to patch potholes with cold mix and, as it is available, with hot patch as well. To date, the city has used 170 tons of patching material this year.

∫ Council has scheduled its next regular meeting for 6 p.m. Dec. 27 instead of Dec. 20.