Council debates Tiffin’s birthday

Tiffin City Council shifted funds set aside for a bicentennial celebration to the Shade Tree Commission budget for riverfront improvements after a 6-1 vote during a meeting Monday.

The money had been allocated for the bicentennial celebration, but after research, Mayor Aaron Montz said the previously celebrated year of 1817 was incorrect. Montz said, with additional input from residents, he received an image of a souvenir from the 75th anniversary of the city. It showed that anniversary was celebrated in 1897, resulting in a birth year of 1822.

The souvenir also provided information about the decision to celebrate that year as the 75th anniversary.

“The true beginning of Tiffin, they believe, is 1822, when the town was surveyed and became the seat of justice in Seneca County,” he said.

Councilman Jim Roberts said he would prefer to work from the 1817 date for the bicentennial celebration”It binds the community together,” he said. “I just think it’s a mistake to take it away, because we can’t really prove this or that.”

Research is to continue on the anniversary of the city’s creation.

Council also held a joint public hearing with the Planning Commission to take comments on the proposed zoning changes and amendments to the property on the southwest corner of Earl Street and St. Francis Avenue.

The request was for rezoning from a single-family residential district to a multiple-family residential district.

Richard Wagener, representative for Wagnerlongobardi Ltd., said he was frustrated with the slow-moving process, but Law Director Brent Howard said council had to follow the city charter because it affects other properties in the neighborhood.

Planning Commission member Bob Williams asked whether approving the rezoning would be considered spot zoning. Howard said no statute defines spot zoning and it is based on case law. He said land cannot be rezoned to make it very different from than the surrounding parcels. For example, Howard said if a parcel is zoned commercial in a residential area, it would be considered spot zoning.

Because land surrounding the parcel in question allows for multi-family dwellings, Howard said it would not be considered spot zoning.

The Planning Commission is to meet to discuss the zoning changes and amendments, then will provide its recommendation to council, Howard said.

In other business, resident Victor Perez presented information about the NatureWorks Grant. He said the grant would provide a 75 percent match to renovate or acquire land for the city’s parks.

Perez suggested applying for funding to rehabilitate Applejack Park, which is located on the corner of Apple and Jackson Streets. His proposal includes adding water fountains and parking strips, accommodating more coach-pitch and Little League diamonds, and improving equipment.

About $28,000 is available to Seneca County and the grant is competitive, he said.

Perez said he is willing to work with the city on the grant application, which is due Sept. 1.

The Recreation and Public Property committee is to meet to discuss the application. Their meeting has not been set.

In his report, Montz supported the continued use of the Courthouse Square for public events after work hours and on weekends.

Seneca County Common Pleas Court Judges Michael Kelbley and Steve Shuff presented a letter to the Seneca County commissioners requesting the board appoint members to a review committee for the use of Courthouse Square during the commissioners meeting last Tuesday.

Shuff and Kelbley also requested a stay on any new applications to use the square during the proposed three-month review process. Due to safety and security concerns of using the lawn, especially during jury trials, the commissioners are to consider the refusal of all future applications to use the space.

Montz said he thought all events outside of work hours should be considered.

“I think it’s very important for continued development and momentum in downtown Tiffin that residents and events are allowed to continue to use that space after hours when court is not in session and on weekends,” he said. “We have seen so many successful events with no damage to the property.”

In other business, council unanimously approved an ordinance repealing a section of Tiffin Codified Ordinances that banned carrying weapons in public places.

After a court ruling, state law allows individuals to openly carry weapons in public places, Howard said. Since state law trumps local ordinance, council had to repeal the law.

Council also approved an amendment to a proposed ordinance allowing for the bidding for curbside recycling and trash hauling. Added to the ordinance was language providing for a pay-by-use option and , along with providing services for not only residential units but also municipal facilities. Commercial facilities are not included.

The ordinance is to be read for a third time and voted on at the next council meeting Aug. 4.

Council also unanimously approved an amended ordinance allowing qualified military veterans to become employed by the police department up to age 39 and the fire and rescue division up to 35. The previous age limit for the police department was 35, while the age limit for the fire and rescue division was 31.

The Finance Committee is to meet 10 a.m. Thursday to discuss financing options for improvements to the wastewater treatment plant and any other business to come before the committee.

The Streets, Sidewalks and Sewers Committee is to meet 4:45 p.m. July 29 to discuss storm sewer drainage on Continental Street and any other business to come before the committee.

Council also is to meet as a committee of the whole at 5:30 p.m. July 29 or after the Streets, Sidewalks and Sewers committee meeting to discuss the downtown facade program.

Council is to discuss recitation of the Lord’s prayer before council meetings at a committee of the whole at 6:45 p.m. Aug. 4.

In other business, council unanimously approved:

An ordinance amending the budget to appropriate funds for a donation received for the July 4th fireworks display and suspending the three-reading rule.

An ordinance authorizing Montz to accept a license agreement and take all other actions necessary to acquire a license agreement for the Phase 3B combined sewer separation project, declaring an emergency and suspending the three-reading rule.