Regional Planning Commission backs $5 vehicle fee

Seneca Regional Planning Commission gave its endorsement to a proposed $5 permissive tax for registered vehicles in the county Wednesday night, Tiffin Mayor Aaron Montz said.

Commissioner Fred Zoeller brought the idea to Tuesday’s Seneca County Board of Commissioners meeting, and said the county could raise $300,000 by implementing the fee, which could ultimately be used to match a grant from the state to improve SR 53.

Zoeller, who is chairman of the Highways and Transportation Committee for regional planning, asked the commission for its support for the permissive license plate fee idea, Wednesday night.

Montz, who is president of regional planning, said there was about 45 minutes of discussion about the fee, and the board decided to endorse it, with two members voting no.

Montz said the commission unanimously approved four specific goals for 2013.

“I felt we needed to give the organization more direction, and make it, quite frankly, worth everyone’s time and investment,” he said.

One goal includes working on bypass roads in Fostoria and in Tiffin. This would include the loop road, which has been discussed in previous Tiffin City Council and commissioners meetings.

Montz said County Engineer Mark Zimmerman said the loop road would be more of a bypass road.

“As part of that bypass plan, regional planning wants to show support and get behind Fostoria’s bypass that they’re trying to build,” he said. “Even though a large portion of it is not even in Seneca County, we feel that if they’re project is successful, by them looping their road, it actually connects Fostoria to I-75 directly. Which then gives Tiffin a direct route to I-75, which we’ve never had before.”

Another focus for regional planning will be SR 53.

“We would love to see a four-lane highway, but we’re trying to be logical and realistic,” Montz said. “I guess we’re shooting for the stars, hoping for a four-lane, but completely understanding that it’s more likely that we’d get funding for a super-two, which, of course, we would take.”

Making SR 53 a super-two highway would eliminate the hills on the road, add turn lanes and widen the road, allowing for more room along the berm.

He said the commission is dedicated to making safety improvements to the highway.

“I definitely see the benefits,” Montz said. “All the people that have died on 53, it is pretty sad that nothing has been done.”

Another goal for regional planning is to develop a comprehensive plan for a geographic information system.

Montz said the county is only using about 10 percent of the GIS tax map’s capabilities. Regional planning will work with the auditor’s office to manage the map.

The GIS could have more information including pipelines and underground utilities displayed on the map, he said.

“There’s so many possibilities for that,” he said. “Businesses love it because it saves them so much time They can do 90 percent of their work they need off of that GIS map, but right now we’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg on what can be done with that.”

The fourth goal is for the commission to open a dialogue about countywide zoning.

He said the goal is to have uniform language for zoning throughout the county, so every city, township and village uses the same terminology.