City of Wilmington amends water theft rules


By Gary Huffenberger - ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com



Wilmington Safety/Service Director Brian Shidaker, left foreground, speaks with city council members about a small potential annexation on the city’s south end. Councilman Jonathan McKay is pictured in the background.

Wilmington Safety/Service Director Brian Shidaker, left foreground, speaks with city council members about a small potential annexation on the city’s south end. Councilman Jonathan McKay is pictured in the background.


Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

WILMINGTON — City council has passed a measure that allows the city to immediately disconnect a consumer’s water service if that customer turns the water back on after the city has turned it off.

Previously in that scenario, the city ordinance did not permit the city to disconnect the water again until a notice was given to the consumer. The prior ordinance also required that the second disconnection come “after the time herein provided for requesting a hearing has expired if no hearing is requested, or if a hearing is duly requested, then only after such hearing and upon a finding and determination by the Director of Public Service adverse to such consumer.”

The city’s prior ordinance that contained provisions for preventing the theft of water service and tampering with water system apparatus, was amended chiefly because of the actions of residents “who go out and turn their water back on after it’s been turned off,” Wilmington Safety/Service Director Brian Shidaker said Thursday night.

“It does happen. We will turn water off, and unfortunately we will have individuals who will turn it back on,” he said following a special council meeting that addressed several items of city business.

“And so we need some teeth to it,” Shidaker said.

A tampering fee of $1,000, the same amount as before, will be assessed to the account of the premises. As before, water service will not be restored until the entire amount owed to the city utility departments is paid, including the tampering fee.

On another matter, council heard one reading for legislation that would streamline the approval process for some requests within the city’s H-1 Commercial Historic District — requests pertaining to things such as paint colors and sign sizes.

Currently, all of these applications go before a volunteer City Planning Commission that meets once a month, which means people who live in the downtown district sometimes end up waiting weeks in order to paint their door, said Shidaker.

So, if the applicants’ chosen color is an approved color, or their requested business sign fits the prescribed size, those applications would be handled administratively in the future.

However, if there is a discrepancy or a question about whether the request is clearly permitted, then the application will still go before the planning commission, Shidaker said.

In addition to streamlining the process for some downtown applicants, Wilmington Mayor John Stanforth said, “The other issue is, we’ve had two meetings where that was the only thing on the agenda. So we bring our volunteer board members in, to approve something that they’re [downtown applicant] already in compliance with. And I don’t think that’s a good use of our volunteers’ time.”

Also on Thursday, council approved spending $64,267 to replace the series of controls and devices that regulate the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system at Wilmington City Hall.

After the council session, Councilman Bill Liermann noted that within a couple weeks city hall will be fully paid off when the city makes a bond payment.

Council heard a first reading of a measure to accept the annexation of 4.6 acres of land adjacent to Southwind Boulevard properties already in the city. The homeowner petitioners want to tie into city utilities, reported Shidaker.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.

Wilmington Safety/Service Director Brian Shidaker, left foreground, speaks with city council members about a small potential annexation on the city’s south end. Councilman Jonathan McKay is pictured in the background.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2021/07/web1_DSC_0240-cropped.jpgWilmington Safety/Service Director Brian Shidaker, left foreground, speaks with city council members about a small potential annexation on the city’s south end. Councilman Jonathan McKay is pictured in the background. Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

By Gary Huffenberger

ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com