BY MIKE McCARTHY | MIRROR EDITOR — Maumee City Council breezed through a light agenda at its March 6 meeting.
The meeting opened with a proclamation from Mayor Richard Carr recognizing March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in the city of Maumee.
Maumee City Council member Scott Noonan presented the mayoral proclamation to Michele Myerholtz, interim superintendent of the Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities, and Nabil Shaheen, public information manager for the organization.
While making the presentation, Noonan stated, “Recognizing this is very important to me, not only as an individual with a disability, but also as a former board member. I’m proud to be here on behalf of the city to declare this month of March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.”
After accepting the award, Myerholtz addressed city council, saying, “It’s partnerships like this that help us carry out our mission of improving life so individuals with developmental disabilities can reach their full potential. Getting awareness and education out there to all the communities within Lucas County is very important. This is one of those steps. Thank you so much.”
During the petitions and communications portion of the meeting, council accepted the Maumee Police Division’s annual report of the Law Enforcement Trust Fund and placed it on file with a 7-0 vote.
Moving on to the consent calendar portion of the meeting, council took the following action:
• Authorized the city administrator’s request to close three uptown Maumee streets on the morning of Saturday, May 6 to accommodate the Maumee Little League parade, which is scheduled to commence at 9:30 a.m.
Allen Street will be closed between West Wayne and West John streets, West John will be closed from Allen to Ford streets, and Ford Street will be closed between West John and West William streets. The streets should be closed for approximately one hour before reopening once the parade has passed.
• Authorized the sale of the city-owned residential property at 402 W. John St. to JC Fine Homes LLC in the amount of $7,500 for the construction of a new craftsman-style replica house, valued at $350,000.
The land was previously obtained by the city in an exchange of properties, when Daniel Calverley, owner of Calverley Heating & Cooling Inc., traded his building and property at 402 W. John St. to the city as part of a deal that would allow him to purchase the former Maumee fire station at 450 W. Dussel Dr., which was no longer being used as an active fire station.
The deal was conceived as a means in which to remove Calverley’s aging and environmentally unhealthy commercial building from the uptown residential neighborhood on West John Street to make way for the eventual construction of future residential housing at that site, while still enabling Calverley to retain his business operations within the city of Maumee.
“We originally talked about a $500,000 sale for the old fire department building on Dussel that we were essentially using as a storage building,” city administrator Patrick Burtch explained to council.
“In an effort to alleviate any concerns that Mr. Calverley had about leaving the community to find a proper building, we showed him (the old fire station). We agreed on a price of $375,000 to purchase the building. We also required Mr. Calverley, as part of that deal, to tear his existing building down. It had some environmental issues. They had to do borings. They had to do all the environmental paperwork that was required to make the land environmentally safe for its sale.
“We also required that he use the actual standard in terms of compaction, the ASTM standard for tearing out everything in the basement hole and replacing it, compacted at 95 percent, so it would be prepared for sale,” Burtch continued.
“We estimated that amount to be about $125,000 to $150,000 worth of work, so we got back up to the half-million-dollar original sales price. In exchange for that, we now have a builder who has a contract to build, for $350,000, a roughly 1,500-square-foot craftsman-style replica home that has natural siding,” Burtch announced.
Burtch added that one of the primary goals of the deal was to ensure the construction of an historically accurate home on that site, so that its design would fit in aesthetically with the other homes that comprise the neighborhood.
“This is a contract home, so two more people will be coming to live in the city on a lot that might have been difficult to sell because of previous environmental conditions,” Burch stated.
Since there was no other business on the agenda, the meeting proceeded to the citizen comments portion of the agenda.
Two members of the community took the opportunity to address city council.
Douglas Boyce, of 124 W. Harrison St., spoke of his support of the closing of the 100 block of West Harrison Street to traffic coming from Conant Street.
He offered a brief summary of how the traffic on his street became increasingly more hazardous after the former lane change on Conant Street, which saw many drivers attempting to avoid traffic on Conant Street by cutting through on West Harrison Street.
“This caused several problems,” Boyce said. “First, the amount of commercial traffic, including trucks, increased markedly. Second, while we have occasionally had drivers going the wrong way on Harrison, the number increased substantially as drivers, unfamiliar with the area, began using Harrison as a cut-through. This was especially dangerous during the school and church hours at St. Joe’s, significantly for children walking to and from school.
“Finally, drivers making the turn onto Harrison Street typically blocked the through lane on northbound Conant, either stopping traffic in the through lane or causing traffic to swerve into the right-hand turn lane,” Boyce continued.
“After the lanes on Conant were redrawn, rush hour typically leads to a backup all the way to downtown Perrysburg. It would be impossible to ever get to the turn lane on Broadway, or even Harrison Street, without significant delay.
“Since the latest change, traffic is at a more reasonable level and church traffic and drop-offs from St. Joe’s has a more efficient and safer traffic pattern,” Boyce observed.
“There may be a solution to the frustration expressed by some residents on their ability to make a left-hand turn onto Broadway from the northbound lane on Conant Street,” he continued.
“First, I believe the traffic signal on Conant and Broadway is capable of being programmed to provide a left-hand turn only. Even a 15- or 20-second timing should allow three to four cars to safely make the turn.
“Second, the traffic lights on Conant could be better timed. For instance, the traffic light on the southbound lane at Conant and Broadway can be set to allow the traffic between Wayne and Broadway to clear and several vehicles to complete a left-hand turn before the light on Wayne Street is activated,” Boyce concluded.
Mayor Carr asked Burtch if he cared to respond.
Burtch stated, “The timing of the lights on Conant Street are determined by what happens on the Anthony Wayne Trail. That trumps all, so we have very little change that we can do.”
As for the left turn signal at the intersection of Conant and Broadway streets, Burtch stated that the city had previously experimented with the timing of the left turn signal to make it 20 seconds long, but it caused the southbound traffic on Conant Street to back up all the way to the railroad tracks near The Andersons silos.
“So, we’re waiting until we are all finished (with Conant Street construction) to figure out whether that timing could be adjusted slightly,” Burtch said. “We do know that we have already decided that we are going to create a dedicated right turn signal during non-school hours, turning west on Broadway, which should help alleviate some of the traffic.
“Quite frankly, we never really had the ability to turn left on Harrison, because on Harrison it was always striped out for an island. You weren’t supposed to turn left on Harrison ever – but, people did,” conceded Burtch.
Once the project is done and new traffic signaling controllers are in, traffic should flow much smoother, Burtch explained. “These controllers have been malfunctioning for almost a decade and, as part of a larger project, they are being switched out,” he added.
Zach Rader, of 1333 Birch St., spoke next and offered his praise to city council members for supporting the proposed non-owner-occupied rental property ordinance. He also criticized those who are vociferously opposing its passage.
“For how much these landlords are fighting this ordinance, it honestly sounds like they are just bad landlords, trying to hide neglected properties,” Rader said.
“City council has listened to these property owners long enough and should no longer consider meeting with them,” Rader continued. “From the beginning, council had the courtesy to listen to their input and actually adjust parts of the ordinance; but instead of being grateful for the opportunity and being realistic, the landlords have worked to make themselves look like the victim by continuing to lie about meetings or conversations with city council.
“One of them actually mailed out a letter saying they would pay for someone’s campaign to run for city council just to get the current members out. I mean, does city council really need to listen to this and bend to what they are saying? If anything, the city should see how hard they are fighting this ordinance as a reason not to back down and to continue this ordinance to make it into law.
“We should want incoming residents to know that they are joining a community with rental properties that are up to code and safe,” Rader concluded.
Following the comments from citizens, city council entered executive session to discuss pending litigation. When council members returned from the lengthy executive session, the meeting was adjourned.
The next meeting of Maumee City Council is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. on Monday, April 3 in council chambers at the Maumee Municipal Building, 400 Conant St.
As always, Maumee City Council meetings are open to the public.