(Posted Sept. 14, 2022)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Mount Sterling village council is considering legislation that would require general contractors doing business within village limits to register with the village.
The proposal calls for an annual registration fee of $75. The measure would allow the village to keep a list of contractors and track and prevent those who do poor work or who defraud customers from doing business in the village.
“My main concern with this is storm chasers–people who come in after hail, tornado, or a high wind event and take advantage of the most vulnerable people in our community,” said council member Andy Drake, chair of council’s zoning committee.
Should council approve the proposal, homeowners would be able to ask contractors if they are registered with the village or call the village to confirm their registration, Drake said.
He added that other municipalities in Madison County have registration requirements in place for general contractors. These business operators must register in each municipality that has such legislation on the books.
Mount Sterling’s proposal was passed on first reading at council’s Sept. 12 meeting. It will be up for a second reading at council’s next regular meeting on Sept. 26.
Also up for a second reading on Sept. 26 is legislation that would establish building code compliance standards and a $40 permit fee for residential swimming pools. As new housing has come into the village over the last several years, the village is receiving inquiries from new residents about the standards, Drake said.
Environmental Engineering, a consulting firm out of Columbus, recently flew a drone over the Mason Park property to get a lay of the land. With input from council’s parks and recreation committee and the community, the firm will put together a multi-year plan for improvements at the park.
Thanks to fundraisers and a $75,000 grant from the state capital budget, the village has approximately $100,000 to spend on a first phase of improvements. Becky Martin, chair of the parks and recreation committee, said the group hopes to nail down a list of projects for the first phase in the next few weeks.
Possibilities for improvements in the short- and long-term include memorial benches, a dog park, swings, a splash pad, a walking path that connects the village to the park, a concession stand with flushable restrooms, extension of the parking lot, and new or refurbished fencing. Martin said the committee welcomes other ideas from the public.
“We have a lot of great ideas, but we’d love more,” she said.
The parks and recreation committee’s next meeting is set for 6 p.m. Oct. 5 in council chambers at town hall. The meeting is open to the public.
Council held a second reading on a resolution authorizing Mayor Marci Darlington to apply for a loan through the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to help cover the cost of a new water tower. The resolution will be up for a third reading and possible vote at council’s next regular meeting.
Drake, chair of council’s finance committee, emphasized that a loan isn’t necessarily the way the village wants to go for funding the water tower. The resolution would just give the village the opportunity to do so.
“We’re going to look at all of the options in front of us,” he said. “My personal preference is to never borrow money.”
The village plans to replace the current water tower, which is approximately 100 years old, with a new one with a capacity of 150,000 gallons. In April, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved a grant to cover 75 percent of the cost to erect a new tower. The estimated cost of the project is $1.37 million which means the grant would cover just over $1 million of the cost. The village is looking into options for covering its 25 percent share. Possibilities could include cash, other grants, a loan, or a combination thereof, Drake said.
The final engineering study for the project should be done sometime next year.
Stop signs and crosswalks
Council unanimously approved installation of stop signs at two intersections that currently do not have stop signs–Friend and Market streets and Jefferson and Market streets–as well as one on the alley between the Tri-County Fire Department station and the Sunoco gas station, to take the intersection from a three-way stop to a four-way stop.
“We had a lot of community input on this,” Drake said about the sign placement.
This is one of many measures council’s street committees are making to improve safety around town. Rebecca Brown, who lives outside the village limits but spends a lot of the time in the village for her children’s activities, had another suggestion. She said she would like to see crosswalks (paint, lights, and signage) in the main square in downtown Mount Sterling.
“We have a very cute, quaint little town, but we get a lot of traffic,” she said.
Drake said the street committee agrees with Brown and has discussed the need for crosswalk upgrades. He said the issue will be on the agenda at the committee’s next meeting set for 8 a.m. Oct. 5 in council chambers at town hall.