Regular Council Meeting
June 13, 2011
The Council of the Village of Riverlea met on the above date at the Thomas Worthington High School, Worthington. The following Council members were present: Mayor Mary Jo Cusack, Jon L. Ankrom, Scott K. Gordon, Donald E. Griffith, Briggs W. Hamor (arrived at 7:13 p.m.), Eric A. MacGilvray and Kirk M. McHugh, President Pro-Tem. Also present were Pamela M. Colwell, Clerk-Treasurer, Steven W. Mershon, Solicitor, William P. Charles, Street Commissioner, Michael Jones, Planning Commissioner, Jody C. Jones, Web Manger, Lois Yoakam, Newsletter Editor, and Karen McElmurray, Marshal. Guests are listed on the attached sheets. At 7:10 pm the Mayor called the meeting to order.
- The minutes of the regular Council meeting of May 16, 2011 were not read since each member had received a copy. Ankrom moved and MacGilvray seconded a motion that the minutes be approved as submitted by the Clerk-Treasurer. The motion was approved unanimously (5-0).
Report of the Clerk-Treasurer
- Griffith moved and McHugh seconded a motion to approve the payment of bills and to accept the financial report for May 2011, as submitted by the Clerk-Treasurer. The motion was approved unanimously (5-0).
Report of the Mayor
- The Mayor reported that there is a SWACO resolution that will be discussed later. They sent her a CD but she does not have time to look at it and wished these organizations realized that they would be better served to also provide a written summary.
- FEMA wants someone from Riverlea to attend their meetings in order for us to participate. She will check to see if that is a requirement.
- The July 4th picnic needs volunteers for games.
- The builder for the new home on Crescent Court has been contacted regarding issues with runoff to the storm sewers.
- The vacant home at Southington and Olentangy has overgrown grass and weeds. The Mayor has contacted them by phone in the past and is now in the process of having the Solicitor contact them.
- She would like to remind residents to review our sign ordinance and to make sure their signs are at least 10 feet from the curb.
Report of the Solicitor
- The Solicitor reported the company that proposed moving their radio station community license to Riverlea has amended their application to Westerville instead of Riverlea and has requested that Riverlea Council withdraw their objection. Council did not express any desire to withdraw the objection.
Report of the Planning Commissioner
- The Planning Commissioner reported a certificate of appropriateness application for landscaping and hardscape was approved for 142 W. Riverglen Drive.
Report of the Marshal
- The Marshal reported there were 240 checks with no citations or warnings.
- There were two thefts and she reminded residents to keep all doors and sheds locked.
Report of the Street Commissioner
- The Commissioner reported that Radico has the pumps in for the lift station and should get them installed within a month
- He spoke with the builder for the new home on Crescent Court regarding construction runoff and he stopped by to check on the property. They do have sediment controls in place.
Report of the Newsletter Editor
- The Editor said she would like copy for the Newsletter by July 5.
Report of the Web Manager
- The Web Manager reported that she is putting the current information on the web site and marks it as new so that residents have the most up to date information.
Report of Parks and Recreation
- There was no report.
Comments from Residents on Agenda Items
- Jody Jones expressed her concerns with mosquito spraying and wants Council to know that she objects to it, especially if no disease carrying mosquitos are found in Riverlea. She said the poison affect insects as well as humans.
- There was no old business.
MacGilvray moved and Griffith seconded the motion to authorize the payment of the Burgess & Niple invoice of $476.08. The motion was approved unanimously (6-0).
- 2012 Tax Budget
McHugh moved and Ankrom seconded the motion to adopt the 2012 Tax Budget of the Village. The motion was approved unanimously (6-0).
- Resolution 2011-06
MacGilvray moved and Griffith seconded the motion to adopt Resolution 2011-06, A Resolution Reauthorizing an Agreement Between the Village of Riverlea and the Board of County Commissioners, Franklin County, Ohio, In Order to Participate in the Franklin County, Ohio, Department of Housing and Urban Development Entitlement Program and Abide by the Covenants of that Program State Herein. The motion was approved unanimously (6-0).
The Mayor is still trying to contact them regarding our mandatory attendance at the meetings or we will not be able to get any grants from them. She received emails about this and they were not very clear, so she is trying to find out what we need to do.
- SWACO Resolutions
Two resolutions were provided: one to approve and one to disapprove the Solid Waste Management Plan Update for the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio. Gordon suggested that this be tabled until the next meeting so Council would have more time to review the plan update. The Mayor said she received a CD but did not have the time to review it. She will contact SWACO and ask if they could provide a summary of the plan update. Council agreed to wait to discuss this at the next Council meeting.
- Mosquito Spraying
The Mayor asked if Council wanted the Village sprayed for mosquitos. Columbus does the spraying. The West Nile Virus has not been found in the Village but it has been rainy and mosquitos abundant. Griffith asked about the reach of the spraying and Jody Jones answered that it would probably not reach back yards. He asked if Jones could put the opt-out forms on the Village’s web site and she said she would put a link to it. Council decided that the Annexation discussion was more important and postponed the mosquito spraying decision until the next Council meeting.
Comments from Residents on Non-Agenda Items
Discussion on Worthington Annexation
The Riverlea Annexation Commissioners, McHugh, Gordon and MacGilvray, conducted the forum with a presentation (the bulleted portion below) and solicited feedback from the residents. MacGilvray explained to the audience that this was not a debate but an information session as this is a very complicated issue. What is agreeable to one person may not be agreeable to another. The discussion will be about the implications of annexation and on certain items they will be asking for input from the audience.
- Back in November a group of Riverlea residents circulated a petition requesting that the Village initiate annexation proceedings with Worthington. Under Ohio law, if such a petition is signed by 25% of electors then Council must pass an ordinance appointing three commissioners to negotiate terms of annexation’
- In early February the Village received notice from the Board of Elections that the petition had enough signatures to trigger the statute. At the next regular meeting on February 22 Council appointed three of its members, Scott Gordon, Kirk McHugh, and myself, as annexation commissioners. This ordinance was delivered to the Worthington City Council, and at a special meeting on April 10 they appointed three of their members, Louis Goorey, Robert Chosy and Robert Schmidt, to serve as commissioners.
- The statute gives the commission 120 days from that point – until August 9 – to negotiate the terms of annexation. If we fail to agree on terms then the Franklin County Probate Judge will appoint a seventh commissioner to break the tie. The annexation proposal must then be approved by a simple majority of voters in both municipalities in order to pass. If it passes then annexation would take effect 30-45 days after the election.
- The commissioners convened on April 15 to discuss procedural matters, and have been meeting on a weekly basis since May 5 to work through the various substantive issues. Although we haven’t always agreed, the discussions have been amicable, and the aim of all parties has been to work out a fair proposal that could be attractive to voters in both municipalities.
- We hope to have a proposal on the ballot in November, but the statutory timetable puts us hard up against the 2011 filing deadline for ballot initiatives (August 10), so there’s a chance that the vote won’t take place until the primary election in the spring of 2012.
- The property tax rate in Worthington is about 3.5 mills lower than Riverlea, which translates to roughly a $250 annual savings per $200,000 home. This figure does not take into account special assessments that Riverlea residents might be required to pay.
- In addition, Worthington levies a 2.5% local income tax, whereas Riverlea has no income tax. This tax would apply to anyone who works at home or runs a business in Riverlea, and to anyone who works in a community with a local income tax rate of less than 2.5%, in which case the difference would be paid to Worthington.
- Finally, if annexed, Riverlea residents would pay $5 more ($20 instead of $15) for vehicle licenses, and would pay a surcharge of $1.50/cubic foot for water and sewage usage, which is projected to amount to about $18/year for the average household.
- Most residents probably wouldn’t notice much of a difference in the level of municipal services that they receive in the event of annexation. Two exceptions are that Riverlea residents would receive the resident discount at the Community Center and the Griswold Center, and that Worthington provides street sweeping and curbside leaf removal whereas Riverlea doesn’t currently provide those services.
- Worthington ordinances allow 51% of residents on a block to petition to add sidewalks, and for property owners representing 60% of the frontage on a block to petition to add streetlights. Residents are assessed for 50% of construction costs for sidewalks, and for the cost of any upgrade to streetlights beyond a basic wood pole design. The Worthington City Council also has the power to install sidewalks and/or streetlights unilaterally if they determine that there’s a significant public safety concern. That power has rarely been used.
- The Worthington commissioners, who are all Council members, have said that they have no intention of connecting streets in Riverlea to streets in Worthington. However they can’t bind future Councils against doing this. With the exception of the eastern end of Melbourne Place, any effort to connect Worthington and Riverlea streets would require an eminent domain action.
McHugh stated there is no guarantee that something will not be done in the future. A resolution can be passed showing the intent to not connect streets but it is non-binding. Melbourne looks like the one street that can be connected with the fewest obstacles.
- Riverlea residents would of course be subject to Worthington rather than Riverlea ordinances in the event of annexation. The codified ordinances of both municipalities are searchable online, so if any of these issues is of interest to you then we encourage you to look into it further.
McHugh reminded everyone that Worthington’s ordinances are much larger than Riverlea’s, including the zoning ordinances.
- In the event of annexation the High Street properties in Riverlea would become part of the Worthington Architectural Review District (ARD), and external improvements to those properties would be subject to the same level and kind of review as properties in Old Worthington and along the High Street and Dublin-Granville Road corridors.
- External improvements to the non-High Street properties in Riverlea would no longer require special approval by a planning commission. Residents will have to obtain building permits and observe Worthington ordinances regarding setback and height requirements etc., but there would not be an additional layer of review based on aesthetic considerations.
- In the event of annexation our neighborhood would still be called the Village of Riverlea, and the entrance signs on Riverglen Drive, Southington Avenue and Olentangy Boulevard would remain in place, although they would be maintained by volunteers or a neighborhood association rather than by the City of Worthington itself.
- Following annexation there will be three primary zoning designations in Riverlea.
- Properties along High Street will be zoned AR-3, medium-density apartments that permits commercial usage with the approval of the Worthington Municipal Planning Commission.
- Homes along Olentangy Blvd will be zoned R-16 for very low-density single-family residences. R-16 has a 100-ft. frontage requirement and a 10-ft. side setback.
- All other homes in the village will be zoned R-10 for low-density single-family homes. R-10 has an 80-ft. frontage requirement and an 8-ft. side setback.
- There are no lot coverage restrictions under either of the Worthington zoning designations; Riverlea currently has a 40% coverage limit for hard surfaces.
The Commissioners stated that Worthington is very strict about frontage and basically they do not allow lot splits. Their lot size requirement is much larger than Riverlea’s. The existing homes will be grandfrathered in but new homes must meet their requirement or will need a variance (which may not be granted).
The Commissioners asked if the High Street properties should be zoned AR-3 which would allow commercial usage or AR-4.5 which would be residential only? Some residents were in favor of AR-3 because commercial generates revenue for the city and they felt it fit in with the area. Other residents were in favor of AR4.5 because commercial would generate other problems such as traffic and parking and may lower property values nearby. The Commissioners asked for a raise of hands to change the proposed zoning on High Street to the AR4.5 and a majority raised their hands. McHugh reminded everyone that once we become Worthington, they can change the zoning.
- The Worthington charter requires that citizens be residents of Worthington for at least two years before they’re eligible to run for elective office. This means that in the event of annexation Riverlea residents wouldn’t be eligible to run for office in Worthington until some time after the 2013 election, meaning that barring any special elections they would effectively be unable to run for office until 2015.
- In the event of annexation Worthington would bring the streets and curbs in Riverlea up to the standard found in the rest of Worthington, and then add them to the City’s regular maintenance and repair schedule.
- Current plan would replace all curbs and grind road surface probably in one large, rotating project within first couple of years after annexation. Total project is estimated to cost around 1.6M. Project will be paid for by special assessment to all the homeowners of Riverlea.
The Commissioners noted that if we stay a Village we will have to come up with the money to fix our streets and curbs, probably through a bond issue that would be voted on by the residents. We applied a slurry seal to buy us 5 to 10 years to plan and to review the infrastructure before putting in new streets and curbs. During annexation discussions they saw it would be more cost effective to replace all of the curbs and streets at the same time instead of by section or street over many years. Our Commissioners did not want a special assessment hanging over the heads of residents for years until their road was done. They want this done within the first couple of years of annexation. They felt it would be unfair to assess residents to fix the roads ten years later.
Special assessments can be based on property area or street frontage. Residents have no direct vote regarding the costs. Assessments would need to be enacted by Worthington Council, and there is a chance for input in that legislative process. There is also a procedure for property owners to contest the amounts of assessments against their individual properties. They would have the option to pay up front or over 20 to 30 years which would include interest costs. It is hard to give an example for the assessment because there are many factors involved, including the total cost of the project.
Residents wanted to know if there was a timeline for the street/curb replacement and the infrastructure repairs so that the new streets were not dug up. The Commissioners will try to address that issue at the next annexation meeting.
Charles, Street Commissioner, reported that Worthington’s engineers feel our street base is fine but our engineers have a different opinion. Residents need to be aware of this. Also, Riverlea’s infrastructure is old and this is a common problem facing municipalities across the country. We are not alone.
McHugh pointed out that as a small Village we could potentially get money or low interest loans to fix these problems that larger municipalities cannot. If we stay as a village, he would hope that the residents would stand up and volunteer to help pursue these grants. It will take a community effort to obtain financial assistance by chairing committees, regularly attending Council meetings, writing grants, etc.
Infrastructure – Sewers
- Sewers are currently being assessed by Riverlea. Flow assessment is still being performed. These assessments were paid for with village funds. We do not yet know the results of the flow assessment.
- Projected need of $650,000 of repairs to re-line the sewers and do a host or repairs. Again, costs of any additional flow problems are not known. Worthington has agreed to cover these costs.
- In the next 3-5 years Worthington will be installing a new gravity flow line through the woods at the south end of Olentangy Blvd. This will eliminate the need for lift station. The lift station will be removed at the cost of $350,000. These monies will come from the current general fund held by Riverlea that will be turned over to Worthington upon annexation and held in reserve for this project.
The Commissioners noted that all Franklin County municipalities were under an EPA mandate to review and upgrade their sewers, not just Riverlea.
Infrastructure – Water Lines
- Riverlea water line break history is as good as if not better than Worthington and there appear to be no major issues with the current water lines. Hence they will not be replaced.
- Following annexation Worthington will repair any water line breaks.
- The terms of annexation will include a clause that states if there is any catastrophic failure of the water lines in the first 5-7 years following annexation, Worthington reserves the right to assign a special assessment to the residents of Riverlea for those repairs.
Charles, Street Commissioner, stated there was no excessive break history in Riverlea but the water lines need to be assessed before street construction. Construction could cause water lines to fail and this is something our engineers are looking at but Worthington’s engineers are not.
Comments What is the impact of annexation on Sharon Township? Sharon Township officials have not attended any of the meetings so there may not be any immediate impact.
Why would Worthington want Riverlea? Higher household income, higher property values, already part of the community, to square off boundaries and Worthington may qualify for funds from the State for combining municipalities.
Worthington is not a goldmine. They have their problems too.
Next Meeting Announcement
MARY JO CUSACK, MAYOR
M. COLWELL, CLERK OF COUNCIL