In the aftermath of approving a building permit without the proper authority, Newcomerstown Village Councilman Dave Hickman proposed having a Building Commissioner in the village.
"I'm trying to avoid the argument and embarrassment (that we've had)," Hickman said at the council meeting Aug. 6.
Hickman is referring to a building permit issued by Mayor Jim Friel to Baker's Foods on State Street that doesn't meet certain specifications in the village.
Hickman said if there is a Building Commissioner, they would check on the specifics before coming to an appeals board (which could potentially be the village council).
"We need to have one so it's done properly," Mayor Friel agreed.
Hickman and councilman Jim Carr asked Village Fiscal Officer Kim Meek to look back into ordinances from 2004 or 2005 when village council gave then-mayor Jim Carr the authority to be the Building Commissioner. However, he asked the Street Superintendent, as well as village council members to assist him when making any decisions on building permits.
Councilmember Sue Simmons said Mayor Friel should be the Building Commissioner because he makes $10,000 a year and council members make not near that.
However, Police Chief Gary Holland said they don't want to make Mayor Friel the Building Commissioner because if council serves as the appeals board, the person asking for the permit has to come before council and if council votes in a tie, the mayor can break the tie. Therefore, the same person will be in charge of issuing or denying the permit.
Council agreed to look into the matter further.
In other business, council approved the addition of a new stop sign at the corner of Main and River streets, next to Buckeye Health & Rehabilitation. Northbound motorists going right at that intersection would not have to stop (and have a continuous right turn). There were several "near miss" accidents at the location and because there is no street sign, the village would be liable for any accident.
Council approved and adopted Resolution No. 14-12 which declares the necessity of a cemetery levy issue to the Tuscarawas County Board of Elections and declaring an emergency. Council approved the resolution with a vote of 5-to-1; councilman Hickman voted against it. The matter was voted on at an earlier meeting, however, the approval of certifying the levy and putting it on the election ballot could not be made at the same meeting. Therefore, they had to vote again on the matter at a different meeting.
The first reading of Ordinance No. 15-12 was read which is an ordinance approving, adopting and enacting certain titles within the American Legal Publishing Ohio Basic Code 2012 addition, as the code of ordinances for the Village of Newcomerstown. Council and village representatives will be deciding how many hard copies of the book they will need, as well as the digital version. The cost of five copies of the book is $745.
In committee and departmental reports:
Councilman Carr said he reviewed the property on Neighbor Street regarding the uneven (or gap) fence and unsecured swimming pool. He asked Mayor Friel to send a letter regarding the safety of the matter -- dogs running under the fence and no fence and gate around the swimming pool. Mayor Friel said he sent the letter. Carr also said there have been several complaints of skunks in the village.
Heather Stein-Wells thanked Bob Martin and the Street Department for removing the tree on Main Street near Epic Fitness. She said she has had a lot of positive comments about it. She also said the Street Department was able to haul away scrap metal around the Street Department Garage and received around $700 from it.
Greg Bowman of the Newcomerstown Recreation Board said the board is purchasing a new lawn mower from the Park Improvement Fund because the older mowers (that were passed down from the cemetery department) have stopped working.
Bob Martin of the Street Department said Newton Asphalt is in the village grinding down streets and paving. He also said the grindings will be stored at the Street Department Garage and will be for sale.
Police Chief Holland thanked Visions Unlimited, Dan Lahmers' State Farm and the Newcomerstown Rotary Club for the painting and window tinting of two of the village's police cruisers. Council approved the annual agreement with the Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS) at a cost of $600. He said this price has increased from last year's cost of $300.
Council approved the maintenance agreement with Buckeye Power Supply at a cost of $1,200 plus tax to replace certain items (including the batteries, belts, etc.) on the generator at the Municipal Building.
Mayor Friel said he is planning to have a public meeting regarding the changes being made in the oil and gas industry, as well as the impact it will have on this area. The meeting is tentatively scheduled for September.
Council also discussed a village-wide employee policy regarding being late and the ramifications for each minute they are late. The information was handed over to Village Solicitor Bob Stephenson for review.
Council will meet again Monday, Aug. 20 at 7 p.m. at the David Barber Civic Center, Newcomerstown.