MORRISTOWN-The proposed zoning ordinance took center stage at a standing-room-only Morristown Village Council meeting Monday night. Residents turned out in force, but their questions will have to wait for an upcoming public hearing.
The September meeting was the first of three readings of the new zoning guidelines, a document two years in the making. The purpose of the first reading is to introduce the ordinance to council, so that they may vote to proceed with the process in accordance with Ohio Revised Code. There will be a public hearing and a second and third reading.
"The rumors that have been flying around town have no merit," stated Mayor Gordon Price. "You need to ask those who are spreading the rumors to show you some facts. There is nothing in here about paint colors or your refrigerators. I would encourage everyone to read through the ordinance, to highlight and make notes, and THEN you'll be able to ask questions about it at the hearing."
Village Solicitor Ed Sustersic tried to address people's perceptions as to what the ordinance is about. "Communities die without zoning. We're seeing that around us. But under NO circumstances can this alter any part of your current property. This is only for future development."
Mayor Price added, "Look at this as insurance that your property will stay as it is. Otherwise, without it, a company could come in and set up business right next door to your house."
Council approved the first reading unanimously. Residents can obtain a copy of the zoning plan, Ordinance 12.4, by contacting the village office. There will be a charge of $6 to $10 per hard copy. The ordinance will also be posted online at www.morristownohio.org, or residents can make arrangements to read the ordinance at the village office by calling (740) 782-1551. There is no scheduled date as of yet for the public hearing, but it will appear in the newspaper.
The mayor asked the residents to consider what they want Morristown to be like over the next two decades. "Forget what it used to be," he said. "You heard the Minutes. Many of your incomes are larger than our town budget thanks to government cuts. We need to look at what's coming down the pike."
He distributed petitions to council members developed by the Mayor's Organization requesting that Governor Kasich re-instate local government funding. The state has cut local governments by 25 to 50 percent while building up a "rainy day fund" of over one billion dollars. Price added that other towns are dissolving their governments and that Morristown may need to consider that possibility because of the lack of funding.
Further discussion evolved regarding a sewer and water fee that residents say was supposed to come off of their bills once the project loan had been paid. The ordinance language, however, has allowed the village to continue the fee to cover costs of maintenance and repairs on the lines and equipment. There have been three pump repairs in the last month, according to the mayor.
One resident also brought photos of her sidewalk which showed no concrete in large areas. The town's official position on sidewalks is that property owners are responsible for maintenance.
"This is beyond maintenance," she responded. "We've put a lot of money into the house. I'm willing to work with the city on this, but we're not going to pay for all of it." Council is looking into options to resolve the issue.
Following an executive session at the end of the meeting, members did decide to take immediate action to approve an ordinance prohibiting the parking and storage of fifth wheel trailers, motor homes, vehicles, recreational vehicles, truck campers, park trailers, travel trailers and other temporary residential units within the village limits of Morristown. He noted that village officials welcome temporary workers affiliated with the oil and gas industry, but there are designated recreational vehicle parks nearby to accommodate their housing needs.
"Residents are concerned about what is happening all across the Ohio Valley and council felt it necessary to address the temporary housing issue now," said Mayor Price. "We believe it was a wise decision to make at this time to protect property values and the quality of life in our town."
There are two scheduled fall clean-up days with JB Green Team for removing old tires, appliances and electronics. The first will be in Lafferty for Union Twp. on Saturday, Sept. 22 and the other in Centerville for Smith Twp. on Saturday, Oct. 6. Clean-ups are held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Morristown "Trick or Treat" night is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 31 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. A Halloween party at the Town Hall will follow.
The next Morristown Village Council meeting will be held Monday, Oct. 15 at 6 p.m.
Valenti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.