According to the city’s parking ordinance, parking is prohibited in the municipal building between midnight and 6 a.m., unless a space is rented for $1 a day. Currently there are no spaces rented.
Mount Vernon Police Department was planning to start enforcement on Aug. 1.
Those parking in the spots overnight are mostly tenants in the nearby rental units, according to Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis.
“What are the taxes if we lose the tax exempt status,” asked John Booth, council president.
The city received exempt status for the parking levels when it removed the parking meters and no longer makes money from the spaces.
Shane Wagner, who owns a small apartment building near the municipal building, said he would have a hard time renting units in his building if parking is prohibited in the municipal garage.
“This whole area has two-hour parking,” Wagner said. “Do they enforce it during First Friday.”
Wagner suggests that parking in the garage should be free just like on the street. If more restrictions and fees are required to park in the garage overnight, Wagner said, “I might as well shut down because there is no parking.”
Council instructed Safety-Service Director Dave Glass to delay enforcement for 90 days so that council could review the necessary financial information.
Council also discussed a proposed easement agreement with Owl Creek Conservancy regarding the Blackjack Road Wetlands. The property was purchased several years ago with a grant from the Clean Ohio Funds and in-kind contributions from the previous owner. Part of the application for the grant money was to enter into an agreement with OCC in order to allow the group to maintain the natural integrity of the property. The city, however, would retain all ownership and financial responsibility of the 52 acres.
For 30 minutes, council members asked questions regarding the proposed easement.
“I’m not happy with it,” said Nancy Vail, 2nd Ward representative. “This says it will be enjoyed by the public. The public won’t be walking in it — they have no right to be there unless it is with an organized tour or controlled groups.”
Jay Maners, 1st Ward councilman, asked what owning the property does for the city.
Mavis explained the city was able to purchase the property, without any local funds, to preserve green space within the city, protect the wetlands and recharge the aquifer.
A more restrictive agreement was passed years ago, Mavis said. After reviewing the agreement at a later date, council rescinded the agreement which is why council is being asked to review the current proposal.
Mavis stated if the city and OCC could not come up with an easement that was suitable to both parties, the city could look for a third party organization to develop an easement agreement.
A public hearing to discuss a rezoning request for a piece of vacant property on Beech Street took place with two area residents speaking out in opposition. Both gentlemen were concerned the change from residential single family to residential multi-family housing would affect their property values and the character of their neighborhood.
There was no one at the public meeting to speak in favor of the rezoning of 1-acre property located to the east of the Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Church. The property is owned by Floyd and Patricia Swanson who were looking to build upscale duplexes on the site.
Mike Hilliar, councilman at-large and chair of the Planning and Zoning Committee, explained the zoning request was discussed at Municipal Planning Committee meeting where the committee unanimously voted to reject the rezoning request.
Council heard the first reading on legislation to rezone the property Monday night. It should come up for vote on Sept. 12.
In other council news, council:
•Adopted a resolution to reappoint Sharon Slain Fair to the Shade Tree Commission for a term that will expire June 18, 2014.
•Adopted resolutions that will pay $6,000 for pool chemicals, transfer $2,700 to the burial relief fund, pay $1,959.44 to Pace Analytic Services Inc. for water testing; transfer $8,030.55 to a maintenance and repair fund from insurance proceeds related to January fire at the city’s impound lot, to pay $3,800 to the Knox County Commissioners for use of the compost area and $4,779.96 to CenturyLink for telephone system and equipment maintenance.
•The city’s state audit was returned, according to Bruce Hawkins, chair of the Finance Committee. There were no findings nor citations. The state, however, recommended council and administration approve a government-owned vehicle and equipment policy be approved and payroll reports for prevailing wage should be time stamped.
In regard to vehicle and equipment policy, Hawkins said, “This recommendation was on last year’s audit, too. Let’s get it out.”
Council will meet Aug. 22 at City Hall with legislative session slated for 7:30 p.m.