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Summary of August 28 Bluffton Council Meeting

NOTE: Can't make it to a Council meeting? Icon readers may submit questions to [email protected]. Our resporter will ask Council on your behalf and summarize the answer here.

By Andy Chappell-Dick

Bluffton Council met on August 28 with an agenda of standard business items. Submissions in the Public Comment sections introduced two notable topics: the Route 9 Allen County RTA bus route through Bluffton and the ongoing inspection of sump pump outlets in Bluffton homes. (The meeting packet is HERE.)

In Committee Reports, Parks and Rec had an on-site negotiation along the 103 Pathway project regarding the relocation of a farmer's field access; the Tree Commission is still working on the Riley Creek Village replanting effort; the Airport Commission is hopeful that FAA funds for the big taxiway rebuild will be available next year.

Two bills were considered, both dealing with vacations (as in vacating something; to abandon): the second reading of a Cherry Street alley, and the first reading of a Parkview sanitary easement. Both passed unanimously. Who doesn't like a good vacation?

In their Administrator's Report, Jesse Blackburn and his assistant Bryan Lloyd presented a list of project starts and stops; leaks and fixes; snafus and smoothing overs. See the photo at right.

Presenting for Safety Services, police chief Ryan Burkholder was on hand. He again lamented that Ford can't deliver a new police cruiser, even for the anticipated $63,000. The chief is looking at a Dodge Durango, which is available and will cost over $10,000 less. And as he seeks to hire several officers, he requested a meeting with several committees to evaluate the department's pay scale and benefits package, since Bluffton seems to have fallen behind even the surrounding villages.

Now to the Public Comment. Brian Wildermuth oversees the Allen County bus system, and he stood up to ask Council's permission to establish fixed stops throughout the village, with signs to mark them. Until now, that RTA bus coming through town was a "flag stop", meaning you had to wave it down. Wildermuth said that fixed bus stops are more efficient and enhance the public's ability to use the system.  Plus, he said that a phone app will be in place this fall to track the bus in real time.  Council will take a look at the signs and the proposed stops.

To close the meeting, resident Jason Swartzlander stood up to ask questions about the sump pump mandate. Several years ago Council enacted an ordinance that outlaws discharge into the sanitary sewer, and homeowners have been receiving letters informing them of the new rule and how it will be enforced. 

Swartzlander had several concerns, among them why this configuration was tolerated for so long, even in relatively new houses; whether the new rule was actually codified as law; and a worry that many residents on a fixed income may find the repair too expensive. 

Blackburn explained the rationale behind not sending storm water to our sewer plant--only about ten percent of homes are out of compliance, but even a few can overwhelm the plant's capacity--and made assurances that village employees work diligently with homeowners to find workable solutions. Swartzlander thanked Blackburn for the clear explanations.