The Chesterhill Village Council met Monday, Nov. 5, at the village hall.
Mayor Richard Wetzel began the meeting by apprising council of the steps taken by the village in its evolution to install a public sewage system to comply with federal and state Environmental Protection Agency mandates.
Mayor Wetzel introduced Mitch Altier, an environmental engineer with IBI Group who has been working as a liaison between the state and the village toward the development of the sewage system project.
Altier apprised council of the village’s placement on the state’s Water Pollution Control Loan Fund draft list for $3,570,000, which will cover the sanitary sewage portion of the project and keep customer rates low. Altier expected EPA confirmation around the first of December followed by environmental assessments. Next, the village would have to advertise, collect and approve contractor bids in the summertime. Then, have all the amounts will be presented to the state in September for closing documents to be signed and funds to be released.
Altier explained to council their next step will be to hold a public meeting to bring the community on board, allow them to ask questions and inform the residents with project details. Altier handed councilmembers a list of frequently asked questions that they should find the answers to before the next meeting.
Council agreed to set the sewer project’s public meeting for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, November 29, at the community center.
Altier said he would be working with the county’s Economic Development Director Shannon Wells to seek additional funding and this project will be key to leveraging future neighborhood revitalization funding.
Wayne Gilchrist attended to notarize signatures on documents that permitted a public utility easement across village property to provide a resident with natural gas.
Henry Miller attended on behalf of the Amish community to learn the progress the village was having toward finding a banking institution that would accommodate the needs of the Amish. Mayor Wetzel said he was waiting for a response from a credit union in Athens.
Council President Ken Peters said he was seeking on his own behalf as a private citizen information for economic development to document the findings to present to those who might be interested in investing in the community.
Miller explained he had an account with a local bank and had no problem obtaining access but his concern was with the younger generation who are being denied. He said the community would be willing to act as notaries public that would vouch for members who don’t have documentation and there may be 200 Amish families across the region that would be willing to patronize a bank that would recognize them.
Miller said local banks refuse to serve customers who do not provide a Social Security Number and that a McConnelsville attorney told him there has to be a way for the Amish to do banking because the local bank policies are unconstitutional.
A village property owner addressed council concerning a burned-out house. He claimed the structure was unsanitary and unsafe. He asked council if anything was being done to address the issue. Village Councilwoman Chasity Mayle explained that the structure was owned by an unknown mortgage company and that the village was having trouble tracking them down.
Mayor Wetzel said it is difficult to enforce one property when there are two or three others that are just as bad or worse. Mayor Wetzel said the village has a condemnation ordinance that must be followed and a village solicitor who can guide council to actions that can be taken.
The property owner asked if he needed to write a certified letter asking for the problem to be addressed and several councilmembers chimed yes. The property owner said he would write a letter addressed to council.
Village Fiscal Officer Jerrica Simmons asked council how she should apply a new $5-waste-water fee to vacant water taps. The existing ordinance stated the fee should be charged to any property improved with a dwelling or other structure.
Councilwoman Kathy Smedley argued that the sewage system will increase property values and that would constitute property improvement. Council President Peters said it would be unfair to residents with a structure on their property not to charge every property the waste-water fee. He also suggested installing sewage-line laterals on every property to allow easier future access on undeveloped properties.
Mayor Wetzel suggested amending section two of Ordinance 2018-2 to read that every property within the village that has a water-tap will be charged a waste-water fee. Council voted to approve amending the ordinance.
Council approved the previous meeting’s minutes as written and approved the revenues and expenditures accrued since the previous meeting.
Council ended the public portion of the meeting by voting to enter into executive session to discuss personnel.
The next Chesterhill Village Council meeting will be held 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 3, at the village hall and a public forum to discuss the village sewage-system will be held 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29.