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Summary of January 10 council meeting

By Andy Chappell-Dick

Mayor Richard Johnson called the first Village Council meeting of 2022 to order at 7 p.m. on January 10. All members were present, and they began this meeting by looking over and approving payment of the Village's bills.

The council agenda includes an item for comments from members of the public. None were present on this date beyond the Icon reporter.

PERSONNEL

The Personnel Committee reported that Bluffton native Logan Fruchey has been hired for the Village maintenance department. He brings considerable experience to the position and the committee and administration were grateful for such a strong candidate.

ORDINANCE

The Ordinance Committee summarized their initial exploration into an overhaul of the village's zoning ordinance. Members are considering the groundwork laid by a "visioning" process conducted in 2006, along with resources from the county and regional planning groups, and the expertise of private consulting firms.  An emerging trajectory on a Comprehensive Plan would again involve asking a diverse group of townsfolk to develop a consensus around a desired future for Bluffton.

LEGISLATION

Council voted on a single piece of legislation. Members passed the first reading of a bill that updates the village's laws to reflect changes to Ohio Basic Code. Besides governing the daily operation of the village, these laws "provide for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, safety and general welfare."

A series of Bluffton-specific laws about vehicle use are added, which will be of special interest to Bluffton residents. For example, section 72.18 makes it illegal to squeal your tires or otherwise engage in "peeling"; section 96.20 defines a car radio as "too loud" if it can be heard 50 feet away; section 72 lays out lengthy requirements for golf carts used on public roads.

ADMINISTRATION

In their reports, administrators Jesse Blackburn and Bryan Lloyd outlined progress on ongoing projects. Council approved their request to engage the Tawa company in grinding mulch at the brush dump, which will happen yet this month. They passed along an income tax collection report which showed 2021 with the third highest total receipts in eight years.

Also presented was a chart of water use in the Village in 2021, as measured at the water meter. It is no surprise that our industrial resident SumiRiko topped all water users, followed by Grob Systems. Mennonite Memorial Home was third. Individual Bluffton University buildings held five of the next ten spots. Riley View Apartments were fifth, the hospital was sixth, and Vance Street Apartments was seventh. The high school was twentieth, just after the first private resident on the list (This could be an unusual water leak or one household used more water than the entire school). Luke's Bar and Grill was 21st.

MAYOR

Council nominated and re-elected Jerry Cupples as Council President for 2022.

POLICE DEPARTMENT

Chief Ryan Burkholder presented his Police Chief's report, supported by a chart summarizing all 6,600 incidents handled by his department in 2021. He stated that an opening for a part-time officer posted in October has yet to result in a single application. Talks are beginning with the school in the matter of a full-time officer to be placed there. He requested a meeting with the relevant Committees to clarify Village parking laws.

Chief Burkholder then invited Officer Dominic Francis, the Bluffton patrolman who was involved in the December 2021 shooting incident, to address Council. Dressed in civilian clothes, Officer Francis stood and thanked Council and the Mayor for their support. As in any police department incident involving the discharge of firearms, his actions were reviewed by the Allen County Prosecutor's Office and by the Allen County Sheriff Department. His actions were cleared by these agencies. All present offered a round of applause.