West Jeff council says ‘no’ to narrowing street

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(Posted June 25, 2018)

By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer

A council vote has thwarted a West Jefferson businessman’s efforts to narrow a street and tear down a building.

John Harmyer of Fisher Cast Steel Products Inc. requested permission to narrow Water Street in West Jefferson from 36 feet wide to 26.4 feet wide so that he can demolish the building at 12 E. Town St. and rebuild.

The West Jefferson Planning and Zoning Commission sent a recommendation to village council to grant the request. On June 18, four council members voted in favor of the request and two, Mike Conway and Howard Wade, voted against it. While a majority voted for the request, the village charter requires six votes to pass a Planning and Zoning Commission recommendation.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7005 (VFW) expressed opposition to the request. VFW spokesman Bob Harper said post members are concerned the change would make the street too narrow for two-way traffic in and out of the VFW’s parking area. They also fear the village would eventually change the street to one-way. Harper noted that Water Street in front of the VFW Post is actually called Veterans Way.

After council voted, council President Steve Johnston apologized to Harmyer and suggested he contact Arnie Booth, the village zoning director, to see what his next steps would be. Harmyer had wanted to start demolition in July.

Also at the June 18 meeting, council held a public hearing on resident Ed Haenszel’s request to rezone property at 120 Jackson St. from residential zoning to small business zoning to accommodate his family’s hobby.

No one commented on the request. Council approved it in a 6-0 vote.

Mayor Ray Martin presented a certificate of appreciation and $1,000 to Ohio Changers, a volunteer group that makes small home repairs for elderly homeowners at no cost. Spokesman Matt Stickel said the group worked at nine sites this year, replacing siding, installing a wheelchair ramp, making roof repairs, and completing other tasks.

This is Ohio Changers’ third summer working in West Jefferson and the first year the village was able to offer them money to buy supplies, Martin said.

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