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Council reverses action on 5th Street parking

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By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

Just a couple of weeks after putting on the books a new law governing parking for a large section of Fifth Street, the Vandalia City Council has voted to rescind that law.

Going along with a recommendation from its streets and sewers committee, the council voted unanimously to reconsider a law setting parking restrictions on Fifth Street between Randolph and Orchard streets.

The council approved at its Oct. 20 meeting an ordinance amendment requiring property owners along that stretch of Fifth Street who wish to use city right of way for parking must obtain either an excavation license or parking encroachment permit in order to prepare the parking area for coverage by either concrete or asphalt.

The measure passed in a 5-2 vote, with Bret Brosman, the streets and sewers committee chairman, and Mike Hobler casting dissenting votes.

In opposing the amendment, Brosman said he didn’t feel it was “good policy” to put such restrictions on just one street.

At least one section of Fifth Street drew considerable discussion as Mayor Rick Gottman asked the committee to study the issue of parking on city right of way.

“It’s unacceptable,” Gottman said, talking about city right of way being turned into unsightly areas because of vehicles being parked between the street and sidewalk.

After the meeting, Brosman said he would be meeting with Public Works Director John Moyer to discuss options on how to take care of the unsightly areas, and that the committee would continue to consider ways to prevent city right of way from being damaged in the future.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the council approved Tax Increment Financing agreements for five local property improvement projects, and declined to act on a sixth request for TIF funding.

The council approved:

• A TIF grant of up to $5,700 to Dennis Young to be used toward the replacement of the service department floor at Arthur Young Inc.

• A TIF grant of up to $3,000 to Doris D. and Eugene Conaway toward the conversion of an area of Something Special from a restaurant to a wine room and retail space rental area.

• A TIF grant of up to $7,500 to Mike Wehrle to be used toward renovations to The Way Inn, a building located at Sixth and Gallatin streets. The renovations are being made to make the building more usable as a banquet facility.

• A TIF grant of up to $15,000 and 70 percent of the property tax revenues created through a renovation and expansion project at McCarty’s Auto Body and Towing.

Ed McCarty initially sought only tax revenue reimbursements, but it was discovered that the amount would be minimal, due to the scale of the project.

As the council discussed the $15,000 grant, TIF Advisory Committee member Sandy Michel said she believed that such a change in a TIF request should go back to the committee before action by the council.

• A grant of up to $5,250 to Dennis Grubaugh to be used toward roof and exterior brick improvements on a building in the eastern half of the 500 block of West Gallatin Street.

Those five TIF projects were supported by the city’s TIF Advisory Committee, as was a request from Grubaugh for a $15,000 grant for improvements to the Liberty Theater building.

The council heard that request, but action on it died for lack of a motion.

Also at the meeting:

• The council approved the renewal of a lease with Bobby Sue McCall for the placement of a tourism billboard along Interstate 70 west of Vandalia. The lease covers 10 years, and the lease payment is $250.

• The council approved the rezoning of the former Tree House Day Care Center from RT (two-family residential) to CG (general commercial).

FAYCO Enterprises in the process of purchasing the property at 1114 W. Jefferson St. and rehabilitating it for use with its more severely disabled clients.

• The Vandalia Planning Commission voted 6-1 to recommend the voting change, with Steve Barker casting the lone dissenting vote. At Monday’s meeting, Alderman Larry Cable expressed the same concern that Barker had at the planning commission meeting, that any type of commercial business could locate in that building with CG zoning should FAYCO move out in the future.

• The council approved an engineering agreement with Hurst-Roche Engineers of Hillsboro for the replacement of the roof on the new city hall. The engineering fee is $12,900, and Hurst-Roche is recommending a construction budget of $133,620 for the project.

• The council unanimously approved Gottman’s appointment of Jim Pryor to the Vandalia Planning Commission.

• The council granted an easement to the Vandalia Park District to allow the district to erect a storage shed in the area along Locust Street that now houses an unused tennis court.

• The council chose to have Springfield-based Environmental Management Inc. of Springfield wrap up the work necessary to complete the leaking underground storage tank project at the city garage, instead of having the work completed by the local firm that has handled the project in the past.

The reason for going with EMI over Environmental Audits and Consultants is that EMI will pay out all funds required to complete the project, and then get paid with state reimbursement funds, according to City Administrator Jimmy Morani.

If it stayed with EACI, the city would be required to pay any costs, including the installation of monitoring wells, and then wait for reimbursement from the state.

• Two aldermen who supported a loan from the city’s Revolving Loan Fund responded to an anonymous letter received by one of them.

In the anonymous letter, the writer asked Alderman Mike Hobler to explain why he supported the loan for Mamma Antonio’s, even though the application did not require a personal guarantee, as required by the city.

“This shouldn’t even warrant a response, because the person didn’t sign it,” Hobler said. But he did explain his vote.

Hobler said he supported the loan approval because the amount of the equipment being purchased with the loan equals the amount of the loan, and that the city could recover that equipment in the event of a loan failure.

Jerry Swarm also responded to the letter, saying, “I wish that when I was in business in the 1980s that this type of thing was available.”

He said that in working with Fayette County Habitat for Humanity for the past eight to 10 years, he has seen houses built for families who have been unable to acquire conventional loans. “We’ve had excellent results,” he said.

The fact that the loan will help an individual who has a successful business in another community working to operate a successful business in downtown Vandalia, he said, “made me feel that this is somebody we should take a chance on.”