Pedestrian traffic in Canal Winchester will again have a safer path to follow as Canal Winchester Village Council prepares to take action on a sidewalk grant program for residents following three readings.
The village established the policy to require property owners with sidewalks to maintain them in good repair in accordance with the Ohio Revised Code. In order to assist with the mandate, Canal Winchester created the Sidewalk Improvement Grant program to offset costs associated with repairs.
Although property owners can have the repairs assessed on their tax bill, they also have the option to pay for it themselves and then submit a grant application for a 50 percent reimbursement of their costs. Once the work is complete and inspected, the applications, along with paid invoices, will be considered for the grant.
To be eligible for financial assistance, an applicant’s income must be at or below 175 percent of the federal poverty guidelines as published by the Ohio Consumers Counsel. Applications will be reviewed and awards made no later than 30 days after they are received.
"The ordinance is basically to do sidewalks and the grant is to help people who can’t afford to put in a sidewalk," said Councilwoman Peggy Eisnaugle during council’s Nov. 5 meeting.
Questions arose regarding trees planted under the village’s street tree program causing changes of an inch or more in sidewalk elevation and the $25 permit fee for sidewalk renovation/restoration. Public Works Director Matt Peoples said only people receiving a letter from Planning and Zoning would be charged the fee, which covers a trio of inspections.
In regard to village responsibility for trees planted by Canal Winchester, Councilman Steve Donahue said, "I think a lot (of trees) were planted with the owner not having a say. If someone sees a tree is pushing up their sidewalk, then something should be done."
A resolution is in sight for returning a parcel of Winchester Pike land owned by the Pfeifer family to its 1983 zoning following months of discussion and allegations of document tampering.
Councilwoman Bobbie Mershon motioned that the village return the property to its 1983 status following a recommendation by Law Director Gene Hollins.
On Oct. 15, attorney David Dye, representing Henrietta Pfeifer and the Mid-Ohio Historical Museum, said, in reviewing records for a triangular parcel owned by the Pfeifer family, an error was discovered. Village documents show the 1983 rezoning for a three-lot buffer was approved with the understanding the property immediately across remain residential to serve as a buffer zone. A1988 zoning plan does not indicate the Winchester Pike frontage as residential in accordance with the ordinance, but shows all Pfeifer property as general commercial. Zoning problems within the area surfaced last year and earlier this year when Damon Pfeifer requested rezoning for a winery.
Dye said the bulk of the site zoned general commercial was correct, but the triangle was in error. The south side of Winchester Pike is residential, but in 1983, the only existing residential uses were where the three lots were carved out. The attorney reported the southeast portion of the site was not part of the buffer and, in 2002, an overlay showed split zoning. He alleged maps vary on the zoning and, because of discrepancies, all references should revert to 1983 agreement as approved by the council and not subject to discretion by the village’s Planning and Zoning Administrator, Allan Neimayer.
However, Neimayer said the statements made on Oct. 15 practically accused him of doctoring official records.
"Doctoring documents is a strong statement that I take seriously," emphasized Neimayer, "and I am outraged over the comments. I did not falsify or doctor village documents."
Upon further examination, Neimayer said the minutes from 1983 contain discrepancies including an incorrect discussion paragraph, wrong signatures, and incorrect meeting times. He told the council he provided the Pfeifers and their representatives with copies of an officially adopted ordinance, and noted there was no follow-up ordinance to the amendment.
"There is still ambiguity," continued Neimayer. "I spent a great deal of time reviewing records."
Herb Pfeifer said Neimayer gave him copies of the minutes and if they were wrong, he should not have received them.
"Plans were changed," contended Pfeifer. "I stand by that. I think Mr. Hollins has come up with a pretty good proposal. His proposition is probably the best this council can make."