Regional planners discuss public bus transit plan

Seneca Regional Planning Commission officials discussed a countywide public bus transit plan Thursday night that mostly is to be funded by state grants.

SRPC Executive Director Charlene Watkins said the project is to cost about $30,000 but will have 90 percent covered by reimbursement grants from Ohio Department of Transportation. She said Mary Habig, executive director of Seneca-Crawford Area Transportation, helped to obtain funding.

In December, Seneca County commissioners allocated about $5,000 for the plan, while the Opportunity Center pitched in $2,000 and the city of Tiffin had agreed to add $15,000. Watins said Tiffin University and SRPC also contributed funds for the study.

The study is to be conducted by RLS and Associates, a Dayton-based company that works on public transportation design.

Watkins said the design period could take 6-12 months and is considered the second phase of a bus route study for the county. The first phase, which examined the feasibility of a bus transit plan, was completed by Heidelberg University in 2015.

Watkins said the plan is to distinguish potential routes, stops, the timing of routes, how many buses are needed, the cost of operation and how to establish the route.

“It would also identify potential alternatives and partnerships,” she said.

SRPC website to include information on wind turbine projects in area

The board directed Watkins to add information about wind turbine projects to the regional planning website.

Watkins said SRPC formally supports wind energy and wind turbine developments. She said this is because the organization advocates for land rights and usage.

“That is regional planning’s responsibility,” she said. “We can’t tell someone what to do on their own land unless you’re zoned … then you follow the zoning.”

Commissioner Mike Kerschner, who on Tuesday became the only commissioner to publicly oppose wind turbine projects in the county, said he believes the wind turbine project issue is not about land rights.

“If a farmer wanted to put a turbine on his property, he’d have to go to the zoning board for approval,” he said. “They may or may not be able to do it, it depends on their neighbors.”

Kerschner said the issue is more about the rights of energy companies, because the state decided to waive zoning laws to allow the turbine developments without consideration or consultation of neighbors.

Commissioner Holly Stacy, Kerschner and the rest of the board agreed that information and links to official sources should be listed on the regional planning website.

“We want regional planning to be a resource of information,” Stacy said. “I think it’s far, as long as it is factual information, not anything more than that.”

In other business, Watkins said county transportation priorities were set for 2018 and approved by the Transportation Improvement District.

She said the first priority is adding turning lanes at three intersections on US 224, including SR 231, SR 100 and South CR 19.

The next priorities in order were the Fostoria Iron Triangle emergency vehicle plan, phase I of the Tiffin/Fostoria Connector that would help congestion issues and increase development opportunities. The connector plan would widen and straighten curbs along a four-mile stretch of Maule Road. The work would begin at Tyber Road and go north to CR 592.

The final priority on the list is the Fostoria Urban Paving project, which would include surfacing work on several roads in the city.

Also during the meeting, Watkins gave an update on Community Development Block Grant 2017 projects.

Watkins said equipment for Clinton Township’s fire department has been ordered and five families have been assisted in avoiding homelessness through the United Way.

Watkins said a New Riegel Sewer District equipment upgrade project is to receive quotes soon. She also said bids are to be opened June 12 for a New Riegel sidewalk project and the bid process is to start June 11 for a County Services Building restrooms upgrade.

The New Riegel projects include 9,000 square feet of sidewalk to be replaced along Findlay, Perry and Tiffin streets, as well as the replacement of two pumps in the New Riegel Sewer District. The CSB bathroom upgrade would bring the facilities up to code with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“We are progressing on the CDBG grant, I’m really happy with it,” she said.

The county received about $297,000 through the program for 2017 and 2018 to complete five projects.