More charter changes may appear on ballot
Green City Council also considering decrease in required parking space dimensions
GREEN — City of Green residents could keep gambling facilities out and put a law director of their choosing in, if two initiatives are placed on the Nov. 6 General Election ballot and approved by the majority of voters.
During the Rules and Personnel Committee meeting, held prior to the Aug. 28 Council meeting, Council President Joel Reed (at large) announced two petitions for proposed amendments to the city charter were turned in to the administration Aug. 27.
The signatures on the petitions reflect 1,191 residents would like the charter amended to state all casino gaming, horse racing, scheme of chance, game of chance and gambling devices shall not be allowed or operated in the city, except for nonprofit charitable purposes; and 1,028 residents would like the charter amended to provide for the election of city’s primary legal counsel.
“Residents want a say,” said resident Des Wertheimer, who heads up a group of residents against a “racino” and other gambling facilities in Green.
According to the Summit County Board of Elections (BOE), 901 legitimate signatures are needed for the placement of a proposed charter change on the ballot.
Reed explained the law requires a resolution from Council to accompany each petition to the BOE and those must be received by Sept. 6. For that reason, Council scheduled a special meeting for Sept. 4 at 6 p.m. in Council Chambers at the Central Administration Building (CAB), 1755 Town Park Blvd., to review the petitions. Six favorable Council votes are needed to move the petitions on to the BOE, who then will verify the signatures.
Wertheimer said miscommunication led the petitions to be turned in late to Council, but he appreciates their willingness to meet and get the initiatives on the Nov. 6 ballot.
He said after rumors circulated in the spring that a racino could be constructed near the Akron-Canton Airport, a number of residents wanted to make sure all gambling facilities stayed out of the city.
Wertheimer added several residents’ dissatisfaction with current Law Director Steve Pruneski led to the petition to make the job an elected position instead of an appointed one.
These possible ballot issues would be added to six proposed charter change amendments already approved by Council for placement on the Nov. 6 ballot, including the possibility of increasing the city mayor’s term limits from two consecutive four-year terms to allowing him or her to serve three consecutive four-year terms.
If approved, the additional charter changes proposed would:
√ require a mayor to treat the position as a full-time job;
√ create new time limits for Council to fill a Council vacancy and only allow a new Council member to be appointed between 30 and 45 days after a vacancy occurs;
√ change how Civil Service employees obtain positions, which no longer would be based on test scores alone;
√ allow 15 percent of the 7 percent of income tax revenues allocated to the city parks and recreation program to be used for special events and programming; and
√ allow Council to correct typographical errors in the charter and make corrections so it is in compliance and consistent with state law.
During the Planning, Community and Economic Development Committee meeting, also held Aug. 28, a great deal of time was spent discussing an ordinance that would amend the codified ordinances to provide an alternative parking stall design.
Councilman Gerard Neugebauer (at large) said the measure would allow a developer to make a development’s parking spaces 9-by-18 feet, as opposed to the current 10-by-20 feet, in exchange for additional green space on the property, which could reduce storm water run off.
Jeff Noble, of the Design and Review Board, spoke out against the proposed change. He stated a mechanism currently is in place to allow for a variance so the dimensions of the parking spaces could be changed, but as a whole, he does not believe a 9-by-18-foot parking space is appropriate for safety reasons.
“I fear all the majority of developers will choose this because it costs them much less,” he said. “It could end up costing our residents more to save the developer money.”
He reminded Council that Target was allowed to go with the smaller parking spaces but explained the spaces are difficult for parents of multiple children, as they have a hard time safely getting all of their children in and out of the car and into the carts without placing them in danger.
“You can’t get a shopping cart between the cars at Target,” he explained.
Neugebauer said Council would take time on the matter to consider it further, but the recommendation resulted from frequent requests from developers to decrease the stall size.
A public hearing on the issue will be held at the next regular meeting Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. at the CAB.
During the regular meeting, Council heard the second reading of legislation for a municipal economic development grant agreement with Comdoc Inc. Director of Planning Wayne Wiethe explained the company has outgrown its headquarters on Massillon Road and wishes to relocate its sales staff and some of its technicians — a total of 65 employees — to a rental facility at 3475 Forest Lake Drive. He said the measure would ensure the company stays in Green and encourages its future growth. Wiethe said the five-year agreement is based on a $3 million payroll. As part of the agreement, the city would reimburse the company about $30,000 in collected income taxes each year.
Also during the meeting, Council heard the second reading of an ordinance authorizing the city to enter into a real estate purchase agreement with MG & L Properties for lot No. 3 in Town Park Center, next to the CAB. Wiethe said the city would purchase 1.1 acres of land, which was appraised at nearly $410,000, for $394,000 to create green space in the central area of the city.
Green Mayor Dick Norton explained the land could be used for a park, much like Central Park in New York City, with trails and water features.
During the committee meetings and regular meeting Aug. 28, Council additionally:
• approved an ordinance changing the zoning classification of about 3.05 acres of land from I-1 (General Industry) to B-1 (General Business) and approximately 0.06 acre of land from PD (Planned Development) to B-1 located on the east side of Massillon Road, north of Franks Parkway, to allow for the construction of a CVS Pharmacy;
• approved a resolution confirming the final plat of the first phase of the Diamond Shores Allotment at the west end of Jarvis Road. The phase consists of one lot at about 0.23 acre;
• agreed to give more consideration to an ordinance that would compensate members of the Civil Service Commission $1,500 a year to be sure all board and commissions are being treated fairly when it comes to payment;
• delayed a vote on a matter to narrow an unnamed alley abutting Berna Road. Both sides of the request were present and spoke during the Rules and Personnel Committee. Council is hopeful both sides will come to an agreement, although a lawsuit on the issue is pending;
• discussed the need for a new speed study to be done on Massillon Road to see if a slower speed limit is now more appropriate; and
• joined state Rep. Anthony DeVitis (R-District 43) in honoring Green High School senior Morgan Estes for winning the pole vaulting championship at the State Tournament in June.
Council will meet for a special meeting Sept. 4 at 6 p.m. in Council Chambers at the CAB. Council’s next regular meeting is set for Sept. 11 beginning at 5 p.m. for committee meetings and continuing at 7 p.m. for the Council meeting in Council Chambers.
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