Mt. Sterling council wary of plan for utility pole at Mason Park

(Posted Nov. 26, 2019)

By Andrew Garrett, Staff Writer

Progress sometimes comes at a price, according to an old adage. Mount Sterling village council members found this to be true as they deliberated over a contract with Ohio Power Co. at their Nov. 25 meeting.

Council tabled a resolution that calls for selling a 0.7-acre tract of village-owned land to Ohio Power (better known as AEP) for a fair market valuation of $15,886.

On the land, Ohio Power intends to construct a “supplemental electrical power loop”–essentially a 90-foot steel pole with accompanying fixtures and equipment. Its purpose would be to assist in electric transmission and distribution, thereby reducing the number of power outages in the area, as well as boost communications networks infrastructure.

The one hitch is that the proposed site sits within the village’s little league hub, Mason Park.

According to council member Becky Martin, the proposed location of the pole is nowhere close to where council was told it would be.

“It’s actually between two playing fields and the batting cage, which is very problematic. They are absolutely destroying our park,” she said.

Council member Andrew Drake requested that the matter be discussed in an upcoming financial meeting, hoping the village might negotiate a stronger deal.

Mayor Billy Martin was less hopeful about concessions from Ohio Power. Given the company’s track record in similar situations, as well as its leverage with the federal government, he said, he believes the project will go on exactly as the company plans.

“I wish you all the luck in the world, but I don’t want to create any false hopes for anybody,” he said.

During the public comment portion of the council meeting, resident Rich Holroyd angrily voiced his concerns over trucking company BST, which he claims is destroying his property at 224 W. Main St. and the corner of Clark Street. According to Holroyd, trucks attempting to enter the BST lot via Clark Street are regularly running through his yard and making a huge mess. Holroyd contends that Clark Street is too narrow for large trucks to use as an entrance. He said he has photos and videos of them tearing through at all hours of the day with total disregard for his property.

The mayor agreed that it was a problem, saying some of the trucks had torn down wiring from the side of the American Legion post.

Despite there being a nearby lot for sale suited for the construction of a driveway for BST, the mayor said he doesn’t see the company stepping up to the plate any time soon.

“Had I had the opportunity to talk to Jerry (Alcott, deceased former owner of BST), I’m sure this would have been resolved. But his nephew has taken over the business, and I can’t get a meeting with him,” he said.

Holroyd said he plans to come to every council meeting to voice his complaint until the issue is resolved.

In other action, council voted to hire resident George Anderson as a public service worker. Anderson, who starts on Dec. 2, will be assigned to the street department, making him the department’s second full-time employee.

A public hearing will be held at city hall at 6 p.m. Dec. 3 regarding proposed changes to subdivision zoning rules. The proposal calls for changing the allowed width of newly constructed roadways from 32 feet to 36 feet. It also calls for allowing temporary versus permanent shipping containers to be sited on certain properties. Residents are welcome to attend and voice their opinions. This will be the first public hearing held following the creation of the village’s new zoning commission.

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