WILMINGTON — Wilmington Council’s judiciary committee met Wednesday to discuss cooperative purchasing agreements and creating a zoning task force.
Wilmington resident and landlord Vince Holmes said the task force was a “do over” and accused council of trying to pass “G-2.”
Marian Miller, executive assistant to Wilmington Mayor John Stanforth, said she would work with Wilmington Law Director Brett Rudduck to draft legislation providing the structure of the task force for the committee’s consideration.
As part of the process, it’s expected that Taylor Stuckert, executive director of the Clinton County Regional Planning Commission, will host a “zoning school,” as committee member Matt Purkey called it, which would be open to the public and would inform residents of current zoning regulations.
“The goal should be to simplify,” said Wilmington Safety and Service Director Brian Shidaker. “I challenge anybody to try to understand our zoning laws because it is extremely complex and it contradicts itself in our own ordinance.”
Committee members Purkey and Kelsey Swindler agreed with Shidaker.
Holmes, however, said council members have an underlying agenda.
“You folks will move heaven and earth to develop downtown Wilmington, and if it includes taking property from people just out of the perimeter of that, you’re on board,” Holmes said. “Unbelievable. You folks are unbelievable, and you don’t play fair.”
For instance, Holmes said “the real agenda” behind a safety committee discussion about the need for crosswalk improvements downtown was actually about building additional crosswalks rather than improving safety.
Earlier in the meeting, Holmes said it was an attempt to re-create Gateway zoning.
“Boy, there’s some people who are really sore about how that vote went,” said Holmes, referring to the November vote to repeal Gateway zoning.
“They’re not discussing Gateway right now, Vince, they’re discussing zoning in general for the city of Wilmington,” said another resident, Chris Walls. “This has nothing to do with Gateway.”
“It sure does,” Holmes said. “This is a re-do. … Just call it G-2.”
Holmes said council will “re-teach people, re-educate people, ’cause they’re stupid. That’s insulting.”
Walls said simplifying zoning would be “great” but said it was also important to have someone available to enforce it.
Purkey told the News Journal that he hopes the task force will simplify the city’s zoning, which he said was “overly complicated.”
“We’re not trying to re-create G-1. We’re not trying to make a G-2,” he said. “We need new zoning. The zoning in Wilmington has been built layer by layer. … It’s time to re-do it all and make something simple that people can understand.”
For instance, Purkey said he hopes zoning can eventually have all residential properties zoned R, rather than having the three residential zones the city currently uses.
Swindler said the goal of creating a task force is to get citizens’ input about what zoning is needed for the city; whereas, she said, last year’s council passed G-1 with a specific goal in mind for a specific area.
“It’s patchwork,” she said of the city’s zones. “This is a way to start from scratch. … Where we need to be will be determined by the community.”
She also said that residents might be surprised to see how some areas and properties of the city are zoned, adding that education about zoning can help people see how zoning has been implemented in the city.
The committee also:
• Agreed to put forth to council legislation that would allow agents of the city authorized by the mayor to enter into any state-approved cooperative purchasing agreements. Those agreements allow city departments and officials to purchase items without going through the weeks-long bidding process.
• Approved for council’s consideration a litter ordinance that would change the timeline for picking up litter from 20 days after notification of violation to 5 days. Wilmington Mayor John Stanforth has been acting as the city’s code enforcement officer. There is no funding for a code enforcement official otherwise.
• Discussed again a hotel lodging tax ordinance. Committee member Matt Purkey said he was under the impression the Clinton County Convention and Visitors Bureau intended to make a presentation. Committee member Randi Milburn said that presentation should come at the committee’s next meeting.
• Approved for council’s consideration a Community Housing Impact and Preservation Program agreement that would combine the county’s and the city’s programs and secure an additional $100,000 in funds, bringing the total up to $800,000. The Clinton County commissioners would also have to approve of the merger. CHIP provides grants to communities for housing rehabilitations and other projects.
• Heard from Bill Limbacher, who asked whether council would consider petitioning the Ohio’s legislators to raise the minimum wage statewide. Purkey and Milburn suggested Limbacher start by reaching out to his state representatives.
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.