Citizens raise questions about West Jeff development

(Posted June 8, 2018)

By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer

Two citizens brought forth ideas and concerns regarding development at the June 4 West Jefferson village council meeting.

Resident Tony Murray started things off with a presentation to encourage the development of a master plan to manage growth in the village, while Kelley Ballard talked about environmental concerns regarding planned development on the east edge of town.

Council President Steve Johnston advised both speakers that they had five minutes each for their presentations, however, when council members started asking questions, 50 minutes passed before council returned to their agenda.

Murray advocated development of the downtown core.

“Downtown looks the same as it did when I was a kid and Dad and I would drive through” he said.

He wants to see the planned Kroger store located in the downtown area with parking in the rear.

“That way people can hang out and mingle with others in the front,” he said.

This idea did not sit well with Johnston. He pointed out that getting the store has been years in the works, and Kroger has purchased land at the corner of State Route 142 wand U.S. Route 40 on the east side of the village.

“You just don’t tell a big corporation what to do,” he said.

Council has already approved annexation and extension of utilities to the Kroger corner. Mayor Ray Martin said the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has signed off on the project, and he’s waiting for the Environmental Protection Agency to sign off so construction of the Kroger Fresh Eats can begin.

“I’m not against development; that’s my job,” Murray said. “But I want the Kroger store downtown.”

Ballard confirmed that she is among a group of people trying to slow down development on the village’s east side. An email to that effect was circulated at an earlier council meeting.

Relatives of the late developer John Galbreath were among those who received the email. Ballard said she is not part of the Galbreath family nor does she own property on the Galbreath farm.

“My concerns are environmental,” she said. “I want to know what this development is going to mean to the Darby Accord.”

Johnston displayed a copy of the Darby Creek Town Center Master Plan.

Murray said the village needs to provide the public with better communication and suggested that village leaders send out a newsletter on a regular basis.

After about 50 minutes of discussion, Johnston abruptly turned to the agenda.

Business items

Council:

– authorized a contract with Storm Dog Tactical for a new canine, handler course, full veterinary check, all shots and associated equipment at a cost of $15,500. A donation from the Tidd family is covering the cost.

– approved the village’s annual donation of $3,000 to the July 4th Streetfest.

– authorized the public service director to contract with Prime AE to assist the village in developing a state-mandated water assets program at a cost of $18,500.

– authorized the public service director to contract with HD Water Services to clean and redevelop a water supply well at a cost of $18,000.

Parks and Recreation Director Marci Darlington said the Lunch & Learn series would begin June 11. The police department, fire department, Madison Health and COSI are just a few of the groups that will share lunch time with the youngsters. Backpacks filled with school supplies will be distributed at the Aug. 2 session.

Johnston scheduled a special council meeting for 7 p.m. June 11 to discuss Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) issues affecting the village. Tom Slack of ODOT will lead the presentation.

Sale of property

Council entered into an executive session to discuss the sale of property the village owns. When they returned to open session, they declared 25.43 acres of undeveloped land on London Road as surplus and approved putting it up for sale. The property will be advertised for five weeks; the land will go to the highest bidder.

Council member resigns

Johnston announced that council member Lorie Cafagno submitted her resignation on May 25. She has moved out of the village. Cafagno was chair of council’s employee benefits committee and a member of the police and finance committees. Her term expires at the end of 2021.

According to the village charter, the remaining council members must fill the vacancy within 30 days after the first meeting at which the resignation notice is received. If council fails to fill the vacancy in the allotted time, the mayor makes the appointment.

Anyone interested in being considered for the position should send a letter of interest and/or resume by June 19 to: Jack Herrel, clerk of council, 28 E. Main St., West Jefferson OH 43162.

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