CHARDON — Construction could begin on a new subdivision before the end of the year, after council last week authorized the city manager to enter into a development agreement with Thistlecreek Development, LLC for a housing plan.
The proposed 32-home subdivision would be the first new development in the city in 10 years. Council also approved the preliminary plan that Sommers Real Estate Group submitted for the development.
“This is the last step we need to go through to adopt the preliminary plan for Thistle Creek,” Chardon Law Director Ben Chojnacki clarified. “Last month we did have a public hearing adopting the plan and there was a draft at that time and there was a motion to accept that decision, so this motion memorializes last month’s decision.”
In a move to start the process for Geauga’s first electrical vehicle charging location, council voted to apply for a $30,000 VW Environmental Mitigation Grant through the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to purchase the station from EVunited of Dublin, Ohio. City Manager Randal Sharpe said, with the grant, it would only cost the city $6,000 on top of the cost to run electrical lines behind the city-owned garage at 106 Water St.
“If we do get the grant, they would be installed in March or April of next year,” Mr. Sharpe said at the meeting. “The benefits are it would drive more traffic to businesses, boost the downtown economy. People could plan their trip around when they need to charge. They look and their computers tell them.”
Council voted to grant Chardon Tomorrow a stipend of $3,500 that will help the nonprofit through COVID-19 related financial difficulties until “at least March,” according to Mary Glauser, the organization’s executive director.
“Last week we sent a letter to the city outlining our needs,” Mrs. Glauser told council. “We estimate a loss of revenue. Our budget this year was $90,000. We anticipate a loss of $55,000 due to the cancellation of First Friday Events, Dog Days and Brew Fest. We also incurred expenses that were not reimbursed. Rental fees, deposits that can be rolled over to 2021 but were unable to be reimbursed.”
Councilwoman Heather Means asked what the organization’s role would be moving forward, and what benefits Chardon Tomorrow provides for the city. Mrs. Glauser said the organization contributed economic development to Chardon by attracting businesses and people to the city.
“One of the projects we worked on this year was to bring the library and school together for shared and consolidated parking,” she explained. “We provided design plans and budgeting so we could keep both the library and school on the square. I think there’s continued value in that.”
If they didn’t receive the money, Mrs. Glauser said the organization would have to vacate their offices at 213 Main St. and operate on a virtual model, as they have been. She added that they have sent out about $15,000 in grant requests, but none have been guaranteed so far.
“I think they’ve done good work over the years and I don’t think $3,500 is going to hurt the city,” Councilman Jeffery Smock said prior to the vote.
In other financial business, Mr. Sharpe said Chardon’s allocation of Senate Bill 357 will be $185,908 if Gov. Mike DeWine signs off on it. The bill looks to distribute federal coronavirus relief funding to local governments and has most recently been passed by the Ohio Senate.
Council also said yes to a $23,000 change order to JP Interiors of Madison Township after they discovered deteriorated electrical conduits at the base of the columns on the gazebo in Chardon Square that needed to be removed. Chardon Director of Public Service Paul Hornyak said JP is in the process of restoring the gazebo along with Ayrshire, Inc. of Chardon.
Council members had a brief discussion about Chardon’s homeless population, or rather what to do when interacting with them.
“[Chardon Police Chief Scott Niehus] explained that if someone is in that kind of situation, the first step is to call dispatch and have police officers come out and assist,” Ms. Means said.
In other police business, Chardon City Manager Randal Sharpe commended Chief Niehus for putting together and executing a plan to keep attendees safe at the Sept. 4 rally in support of the Thin Blue Line flag that took place in Chardon.
Vice Mayor Chris Grau said the Safety Committee talked about devising an emergency notification chart to help get information out to residents and businesses in the event of an emergency at their most recent meeting.
During his report, Mr. Sharpe said the Home Depot in Chardon donated about $1,500 of black mulch to be used for land and building in the city’s Recreation Department.
He also announced that Chardon has made a conditional employment offer to a new full-time maintenance worker candidate, who will assist in cemetery and park upkeep. They have also posted advertisements for a second shift, full-time operator position with the Water and Wastewater Departments.
A $2,500 Go Green Grant from the Geauga-Trumbull Solid Waste Management District will pay for the purchase and installation of a new receptacle containing trash and recycling bins to be placed in the park on the square, Mr. Sharpe added.
Council approved ordinances to have streetlights and sidewalks assessed for potential repairs and maintenance needs.
“We’re using the assessment to help change out the streetlights to LED,” Finance Director Mate Rogonjic said.
The next Chardon City Council meeting is 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 8 via Zoom.