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County Council seeking solutions to road issues

6/7/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

DOWNTOWN AKRON — A week before final public hearings on the proposed vacations of three roads in Boston Township, Summit County Council members discussed June 4 what could be done to address potentially dangerous situations on the roads in question.

Council President Jerry Feeman (D-District 6) said he asked the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office to look into whether it would be possible for property owners to be assessed for road repairs, as is done in Akron, on Wetmore, Oak Hill and Stanford roads in the township. The problem, however, is that the property in question is owned by the U.S. government, and the federal government is immune from taxation from another government entity, according to Mary Ann Kovach, of the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office.

Concerns were raised about Oak Hill Road specifically, which staff from the Engineer’s Office has said needs about $1 million in repairs.

“Something has to be done to that road,” said Councilwoman Gloria Rodgers (R-District 3).

Heidi Swindell, of the county Engineer’s Office, said there is currently a load limit of 5 tons on the road. Council members noted that one of the reasons to avoid vacating the roads is due to concerns from safety forces that said they need the roads for access.

“We do not recommend that safety vehicles take that road,” Swindell said, because of the poor conditions.

Boston Township officials have requested vacating the roads because of the costs to maintain them. Council held public hearings May 14 and will conduct final public hearings on the vacations June 11 at 4:30 p.m., before the start of committee meetings.

Councilman Tim Crawford (D-District 7) commented that he’s not sure if an inability to pay for maintenance is an acceptable reason for vacating the roads under the Ohio Revised Code. He also noted that he spoke with Cuyahoga Valley National Park Deputy Superintendent Paul Stoehr, who told him the township has only requested funding for road striping this year, but not road repairs.

Councilwoman Ilene Shapiro (D-at large) reiterated her wish that the affected communities and entities work together to see that the problems with the roads are addressed.

“These communities that have issues need to be talking together to find a solution,” she said. “To come to Council and say ‘we can’t do it’ isn’t enough.”

Also Monday, Council adopted a resolution declaring it necessary to renew the 2.25-mill levy for Summit County Children Services (SCCS). The resolution is the first of two pieces of legislation Council must approve to get the levy on the Nov. 6 General Election ballot.

The second piece of legislation, which allows the levy to be placed on the ballot, was introduced during the meeting.

Council also adopted a resolution establishing the Summit County Land Reutilization Corporation and authorizing the Fiscal Office to file its articles of incorporation. Also at the meeting, a resolution was introduced that designates the corporation as the agent for the reclamation, rehabilitation and reutilization of vacant, abandoned, tax-foreclosed and other real property in the county.

In other news, Council adopted an ordinance that would require businesses that use county roadways with heavy machinery, trucks and equipment to execute a Roadway Use and Maintenance Agreement with the county.

According to the Engineer’s Office, the agreement will protect county roads from damage that leads to costly repairs due to excessive and overweight vehicle use, especially with the increases in hydraulic fracturing activity.

Companies signing the agreement will be responsible for bringing roads up to the standards necessary for hauling heavy and/or oversized equipment frequently. The agreement calls for the widening and other improvements to such roads, including upgrades to culverts, bridges and road shoulders, according to the Engineer’s Office.

Also Monday, Council heard a first reading of new legislation dealing with panhandling and the cleanup of clandestine drug labs in the county. Committees will discuss the proposed ordinances during their next meetings.

County Council will meet for committee meetings June 11 at 4:30 p.m. in Council Chambers on the seventh floor of the Ohio Building, 175 S. Main St.

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