GC council adopts plan to bury some utility lines

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Utility poles are one-step closer to burial after the Sept. 17 Grove City Council meeting.

Council passed a resolution to adopt an underground utilities policy with a 4-1 vote.

Council members Maria Klemack-McGraw and Ted Berry began pushing for an underground utilities policy early this year.

"This will benefit the health and safety of residents and visitors to this city," said Klemack-McGraw.

The policy states that council will have to seriously consider burying power lines when any new development or major road reconstruction project comes before council. It also says utility lines on poles create a safety hazard, jeopardizing the health and lives of motorists involved with collisions with the poles. They can also be inconvenient, or even deadly, to residents when the lines are damaged because of accidents, ice storms, lightning strikes or windstorms.

"Power outages can put people at a serious risk," said Klemack-McGraw, "especially the sick, elderly and very young."

David Kandel, external affairs director with AT&T, told council his company would like to work with the city when converting aerial to underground telephone facilities.

"Typically, AT&T pays to move and bury its facilities when they unreasonably interfere with safe travel on a public street or sidewalk or where it is necessary to eliminate a bona fide safety hazard," said Kandel. "But for beautification projects, costs associated with moving or burying telephone facilities are borne by the governmental entity or property owner requesting that the facilities be buried."

Klemack-McGraw explained that one reason this measure has taken so long to pass is that it faced resistance from the city administration.

"Some said the cost was too great or it would postpone projects," she said.

Then she explained that according to the Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC), federal dollars could be available to assist with burial costs.

"This resolution says the administration must provide cost estimates for underground utility lines or provide other alternatives," explained Klemack-McGraw.

Councilman Larry Corbin voted against the resolution. He said the cost for burying power lines could increase project totals up to six times.

"We have an obligation to protect our residents," he said. "Someone will have to pay for that and it will be the citizens."

Council will hold a special meeting on Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. in council chambers to hear a presentation from American Electric Power (AEP) regarding the resolution.

In other news:

•Council passed a resolution to downsize the inside millage from 0.90 to 0.70. The budget commission determined the 0.90 rate. Councilman and Finance Chairman Richard "Ike" Stage said 0.90 inside millage would bring in approximately $755,000. He suggested changing the millage to 0.70, which would generate about $568,000 for the city’s general fund.

"Why not share that $280,000 with the residents?" asked Stage.

Council will send the tax levies to the county auditor.

•Grove City Mayor Cheryl Grossman honored dozens of community members who keep the city green. They received a Green Thumb Award.

"They truly make a difference in our community and help keep Grove City beautiful," said Grossman.

•The mayor also recognized Miss Ohio, Roberta Camp, who comes from Grove City and is a 2002 graduate of Grove City High School. Camp will now compete in the Miss America pageant on Jan. 26 in Las Vegas.

"Best wishes for Miss America and we are very proud of you," said Grossman.

The pageant is scheduled to air on The Learning Channel (TLC).

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