(Posted Dec. 11, 2019)
By Andrew Garrett, Staff Writer
Mount Sterling Village council continues to wrestle over what course of action to take regarding utilities giant American Electric Power (AEP)
The company plans to erect two 80- to 90-foot steel poles with accompanying lines and fixtures as part of a “supplemental electrical power loop” across the southern section of Mason Park.
Council members have concerns, as do congregants of Mount Sterling First Church of the Nazarene. The church owns land adjoining the southern property line of the village park.
Nick Brown spoke on behalf of the church’s board at the Dec. 10 council meeting. He said the project should require easements from the village and the church.
He also said that the project would not only have a negative impact on the park and adjacent properties, it also would hinder the growth potential of the village. Brown said the church board contends that accepting nominal compensation from AEP now puts at risk future income generated from village growth.
Council member Becky Martin agreed, saying the AEP project would devalue the property. She also said the easement was much wider than council had originally been led to believe.
The village’s parks and recreation committee is drafting a letter outlining the perceived problems to send to Josh Pedaline, AEP’s representative. Martin suggested that the church do something similar.
Council member Andrew Drake is concerned that children would be playing under high-tension power lines. He alos worries about the impact the project would have on village growth.
“We do stand in solidarity with the church, and as a community we need to proceed forward together,” he said.
Drake also thinks the village is not being compensated fairly for the property and should find its own appraiser. The current offer from AEP for the 0.7-acre tract in question is $15,886.
Martin wants to make sure the public understands that council does not want to sell any part of the park “just to make some money.”
“We were told they are coming, like it or not,” she said.
Mark Pitstick, village solicitor, suggested that council further negotiate with AEP.
In other business, council:
- adopted the budget for 2020;
- set procedures for accepting payments on residents’ water bills and setting timeframes for shutting off service for delinquent accounts. Payments are due on the 15th of each month. Shut-off for nonpayment is scheduled for the 1st of the following month;
- adopted health insurance packages for three village employees for 2020–the mayor, utilities clerk and fiscal officer.
The position for village administrator has been posted to the village website and applications are being accepted. Also, a spot on council will open in January and residents interested in filling it should contact the administration.