Council OKs eminent domain process for Sidney traffic project

The city of Sidney moved forward with traffic-control improvements on Ohio 47 near Walmart when City Council Monday night authorized the acquiring of easements through eminent domain proceedings.

Council passed a resolution to proceed with the eminent domain process in Shelby County Common Pleas Court concerning property owned by West Town Ltd. City Law Director Jeff Amick told council that all the other affected property owners have voluntarily executed easements. He said the properties involved have been appraised at $9,198. The city staff “was hoping to resolve this” without eminent domain proceedings, Amick said, but with the start date of the project approaching, the matter can't wait any longer. He said the court costs involved would not be high.

According to information on the city's website, planned improvements include installation of a new traffic signal on Ohio 47 (Michigan Street) at the entrance with Walmart and Buckeye Ford, in addition to other driveway access modifications along the corridor between Walmart's west and east access drives to Michigan Street, and Cazadore's Restaurant access drives to Michigan Street. Construction is expected to begin in mid-May. Project completion is slated to take about 180 days. During construction, traffic will be maintained but lane closures and delays are expected.

Council resumed discussion of the city charter review. Amick had presented the annual review in January and suggested changes to the charter, but said the proposed amendments were not crucial to city operations. Also, it would cost anywhere from $2,000 to $17,000 to put the amendments before voters, depending on whether the amendments were placed on a special election or regular election ballot.

It was the consensus of council members present that the city not proceed with amendments; however Councilman Rick Sims said two members who were absent — Janet Born and Steve Wagner — might want to provide input. Council asked Amick to bring the matter before council at a future meeting.

Council passed a resolution authorizing a 30-year lease with Aerotech Aviation to use part of the city's property at the Sidney Municipal Airport to build an 80-by-125-foot hangar. Aerotech would use the hangar to store and repair aircraft. At the end of the lease, the hangar would become the city's property. Mike Chappie, owner of Aerotech, currently is the city's airport manager.

All liquor permits in Sidney will expire June 1. Based on a recommendation by the Police Department, which found no reason to oppose renewal of the permits, council took no action on the matter. Responding to a question from Councilman Chuck Craynon, City Manager Mark Cundiff said he would find out how many permit-holders the city has. He said the number is based on population.

Catherine Toal presented information to council about the community prayer event to be held on the courtsquare May 3 at 10:30 a.m. Instead of a prayer breakfast this year, the Prayer on the Square will be held, she said. It is sponsored by the Shelby County Community Prayer Group and the Shelby County Ministerial Association. Toal said a prayer over council, and said she was not alone in keeping city officials in her prayers. “There are so many praying for you,” she said.

In other business:

• Sims asked about the parking ordinance. He said a resident told him about being ticketed by police because his vehicle blocked a sidewalk while parked in a short driveway. Police Chief Will Balling said the ordinance states that a vehicle can't block any part of a sidewalk. He said he plans to consult with the law director about revising ordinances dealing with parking and junk vehicles.

• Mayor Mike Barhorst said someone recently talked to him about the excellent parks and swimming pool the city has, and suggested that the city market them more. In connection with that, Parks and Recreation Director Duane Gaier reminded that season passes for the pool are on sale at 2012 prices until the end of May. He also said Tawawa Park will open to motor vehicles Saturday.

• Cundiff reminded campaigners that election signs can't be placed in public rights of way. He said he hasn't seen any school levy signs in rights of way, but he's spotted some signs for primary candidates there.

• Council went into an executive session to discuss economic development, appointment of public officials and employment. Barhorst said council would take no action on the matters at Monday night's meeting.