By Dean Vaglia
Leader Staff Writer
The Oxford Village Council met Tuesday, July 13 to discuss a variety of issues. Once the pledge was recited and agenda approved, the meeting began around 7 p.m.
Pontiac Street Stop Sign
While the question of whether to remove a stop sign from the intersection of Park and Pontiac would come up later in the meeting, the first public comment was about the issue.
“I just don’t want it to come down,” Gail Grandy, a Park St. resident said. “I have too many cars that just slowly drive by and then just whip through it. If it wasn’t there they would be going from Moyers to Dennison at 40 mph. It’s a school zone, it’s a library zone, I see so many families with children [and] little dogs.”
Another Park St. resident stood up to voice their opposition to removing the sign. Their sentiments were echoed by Police Chief Micheal Solwold.
“I know some folks have voiced their concerns about having to stop too many times,” Solwold said. “I look at the safety issue of it. At least if anything we’re slowing traffic down, breaking traffic up in that particular area. Pontiac St. is one of our main roads in the village, so I am opposed to [removing the signs].”
Councilmember Maureen Helmuth was in favor of removing the stop sign, though she was unable to find a councilmember to back her up. Council President Kelsey Cooke proposed a motion to keep the sign in place, and the council voted 4-1 in Cooke’s favor.
Tattoo Parlors & Commercial Vehicles definitions amended
Two amendments to zoning terms and definitions were brought to the council for final approval.
The first amendment would move tattoo parlors from “Adult Regulated Use” — a classification used for business such as pornographic theaters and strip clubs — into the category of “Personal Service Establishments” alongside barber shops and nail salons.
The second amendment updated the definition of commercial vehicles to be more accommodating for contractors who keep their work vehicles at their home.
Both amendments were approved unanimously.
“Jake Brake” Ban
A resident and 15-year firefighter sent an email to the council asking for a step “to restrict or eliminate the use of jake brakes within the village limits.” A “Jake Brake” is a method of engine braking semi trucks use to quickly reduce speed alongside regular brakes.
The subject was previously discussed in 2020 with attorney Robert Davis concluding the village should adopt a measure to restrict engine braking in the village limits.
Helmuth raised concerns about enforcement and informing truck drivers of the ban. Davis mentioned that signage along the village limits would inform drivers and that it would be enforced along the lines of a noise violation.
The council asked Davis to prepare a draft ordinance for the August meeting.
Church Special Event Request
Oakwood Community Church submitted a request to use Centennial Park for a public event. Called “Worship in the Park,” the church states the event will feature “live music” and will take place from 6:30 – 8 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 22. 125 attendees are expected, Oakwood says their own safety team will be on site and requested the use of municipal electrical connections.
The council unanimously approved the event.
Glapsie St. Crosswalk
Students and teachers from the Oxford Virtual Academy (OVA) asked the council to approve the construction of a crosswalk to connect the OVA with Scripter Park. Students use the park on recess, though crossing the street is dangerous since there is no crosswalk or signage.
In order to further their case, students measured how many vehicles passed through the area within a 10 minute period, counting 36 including several gravel haulers. Students sent Chief Solwold letters regarding the issue and presented their case for the crosswalk to the council.
Though the council approved the crosswalk’s construction unanimously, further discussion will be had to determine more advanced signage. The crosswalk and static signs are expected to cost about $300.
“How cool of your teacher to teach about local government and how you can come in and ask for something and then your ask can be granted,” Cooke said.
Polly Ann Trail Eagle Scout Project
During construction on M-24 in 2020, an antique stormwater catch basin was unearthed and was moved to Polly Ann Trail property. A local Boy Scout came to the Polly Ann Trail to inquire about improving the basin as part of their Eagle Scout project.
“Fencing it, putting ‘don’t climb’ [signs] on it,” Trail Manager Linda Moran said. “Having a sign made for it that actually explains what it is, where it came from, how it was used [and] what this thing is.”
While the plans for the project are unclear at this time, the issue at hand is getting approval. In order for the Polly Ann Trail’s council to approve the project, Moran needs the Village Council’s approval.
After several minutes of discussion trying to sort out which way would be the most timely to get the project approved, Councilmember Allison Kemp proposed a motion for the village to “give it’s blessing” for the project pending the trail’s approval. The motion was unanimously approved.
P.U.D Agreement Expiration
In 2016 the village, the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and Weckle Properties LLC entered into a planned unit development agreement to develop DDA land along Burdick and Stanton streets into several buildings and parking lots. Some construction has begun at the locations in question, though delays to construction and permit acquisition have dragged the project into 2021 and led to four amendments to the agreement.
The council decided to have Weckle Properties develop a timetable for the project, giving everyone involved an idea about when it will be complete.
Marijuana Industry Ordinance Sunset Clause
In the last meeting, a protest petition was filed against the approval of amending an ordinance to allow regulated marijuana industry within a village industrial zone. While attorney Davis — after working with land surveying professionals and examining the petition closely — expects the petition to fail, the issue at hand regards a sunset clause in the ordinance.
If the sunset clause was not removed and the petition successful, marijuana industry could move into Oxford without any regulation regarding where, when and how they conduct their business outside of what the state allows and requires. If the clause was removed, the ban on marijuana industry in the village remains until the council were to explicitly allow it.
The council voted 4-1 to remove the sunset clause, Helmuth providing the only vote against removal.