City council discusses property citations

VAN WERT – New and former council members were sworn in on Monday evening before the start of the regular city council meeting. New members heard how complaints about property warnings are handled and were introduced to the drafting of new ordinances for the year.

Four new members of Van Wert’s city council were sworn in before the regular meeting. Former mayor Jerry Mazur was sworn in as chairman of the council. Taking the oath of office were David Stinett, Second Ward Councilman; Julie Moore, councilor for the third ward; and Judith Agler-Bowers, General Counsel.

The council began with an in-depth discussion of the clean-up orders which were discussed extensively on social media platforms. Enforcement of cleaning code violations has been a constant concern for years at Van Wert with the aim of keeping the city clean and clean. A few years ago there were 500 citations a year about the appearance of lots, but that number has declined in recent years to around 230, according to Bill Marshall, At-Large City Councilor. Much of the quotes appear to be the same from year to year with neighbors reporting recurring issues.

Jay Fleming, Director of Security, and General Counsel John Hatcher both added comments to help explain the process of warning the cleanup code to the public. According to Hatcher, written warnings and 10-day notices are issued before any citation, which is required by law. He further explained that only one warning per year is required by law. The warning could appear at a property for breach of order in January and then be followed by a citation in February or June. Another warning would not need to be served unless it relates to a different code problem. A new warning would then be issued, if necessary, in the following calendar year.

Fleming was concerned about discussions among the public that quotes appeared without warning. As Hatcher noted, warnings are always given at least 10 days before a citation. Hatcher also explained the fines and court costs for the property cleaning citations. When a landlord makes the effort to be in compliance by cleaning up the property before going to court, they recommend a zero fine. However, they have to pay the court costs. If the person does not bring the property into compliance, they are fined $ 100 per household.

Hatcher also informed the public and Council that municipal court fees have dropped from $ 95 to $ 135. He said it was the first increase in 10 years.

Hatcher reiterated that citizens should ask questions of his office if they are unsure of something. Complaining on social media doesn’t help; asking direct questions helps. Hatcher said: “I am open to working with people and prefer to work with people.”

Also under discussion, an issue raised by resident Mark Davis who felt the city was not keeping up with traffic barriers. He noted several corners with tall bushes in line of sight of traffic at intersections. He also pointed out that new city LED signs and some residential motion-sensing floodlights are too bright for light-sensitive people and therefore disrupt traffic.

In other areas, Council has approved ordinances to change ward boundaries to make them more balanced. Three 10-year 90% tax relief agreements have been approved: Van Wert Forward 1 LLC for $ 26 million; V-Wert II for $ 6.5 million; and MBK LCC for $ 5 million. The Council also heard resolutions recognizing former Council members for their service.

Three Board members accepted appointments by the Board. Andrew Davis has been appointed to the airport authority board of directors; Judith Bowers at the Woodland Union Cemetery Board and Bill Marshall at the Energy Special Improvement District Board.

The next Van Wert City Council meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, January 24, in the Council Chamber, 515 E. Main St.

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