(Posted Sept. 14, 2023)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Mount Sterling village council is considering legislation to change zoning for 17 undeveloped lots located behind the former IGA grocery store on the south side of town. The first reading was held at council’s Sept. 11 meeting.
Harral and Stevenson Engineering and Surveying out of Circleville submitted an application to Mount Sterling’s planning committee in July requesting that zoning for the lots be changed from low density residential (R-1) to higher density residential (R-3).
In correspondence with the village, the company stated, “The proposed zoning is necessary to allow modern home sites that provide an area and width that is compatible with current styles and construction trends. This style of single-family development seeks to balance desired density with an efficient use of the land. The style preferred by major home builders favors a narrower lot than has been the case in the past.”
The letter further states that the area proposed for rezoning could support approximately 27 homes on R-3 lots. No information has been released about any specific development plans.
Andy Drake, a council member and chair of the planning committee, said the 17 lots were platted out in the 1960s. Since then, the neighborhood surrounding those lots has changed. In recent years, more than 100 homes on R-3 type lots have been developed on adjacent land.
After hearing from Harral and Stevenson and asking follow-up questions, the planning committee recommended approval of the rezoning request and forwarded it to council for a vote.
“We would like to look forward to some more houses being built,” Drake said at the Sept. 11 council meeting.
Council will hold another two readings of the proposed legislation and a public hearing before voting on the rezoning request. The date of the public hearing has not been set but likely will take place at one of the council meetings in October.
Drake reported that construction on the new water tower is set to start in June 2024. The new tower will replace the village’s existing tower which is approximately 100 years old.
The village has secured grant funding to cover the entire $1.37 million cost of the project, however, Drake said the village might have to pay some of the costs up front then wait for reimbursement.
“This is probably going to put some significant pressure on our general fund which acts as a cushion for emergencies as a carryover,” he said.
Drake said the village needs to think carefully about other big-ticket projects over the next couple of years to make sure money is available for those up-front costs.
He noted that the finance committee has started the budget process for 2024, is reviewing the capital budget for 2024 and 2025, and is keeping the five-year financial outlook in mind.
The public is welcome to attend finance committee meetings and work sessions related to the budget. The next regular finance committee meeting is set for 2:30 p.m. Oct. 4 at town hall. Those interested can watch the village website for dates and times of other budget-related meetings. Copies of information regarding the budget and village finances can be found in the town hall lobby.
Council voted 5-1 to eliminate medical benefits for the mayor’s position. Becky Martin cast the “no” vote. The change will go into effect with the next mayoral term which is up for election this November.
Council approved medical benefits for the mayor’s position 4.5 years ago. It is the only elected position with benefits. According to Martin, the measure was designed to make the position more attractive to potential candidates.
Drake said the finance committee recommended eliminating those benefits as a cost-cutting measure. He said the cut will save the village approximately $130,000 over the next four years and even more over the following term.
• Mayor Marci Darlington is organizing a county-wide food drive again this fall. The first one took place last year. The mayors from London, Plain City, and West Jefferson are on board. The towns will compete to see which one can bring in the most food. The collection is set for Oct. 15-21.
• The Mount Sterling Eagles Youth League’s trunk-or-treat is set for 5-7 p.m. Oct. 27 at Mason Park.
• Mount Sterling’s trick-or-treat night is set for 5:30-7 p.m. Oct. 31.