BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Parking, noise, traffic, crime and the need for increased safety services are among the concerns citizens raised about a proposed amphitheater during the July 25 Waterville City Council meeting.
Jeff and Angie Bronner, Steven Timms, Lisa Haberstock, Kelly Colling and Terri Massucci asked detailed questions about plans for a 7,500-seat capacity amphitheater on South Pray Boulevard near the US 24/SR 64 interchange.
Timms, who lives on Overlook Drive, asked who would enforce zoning violations, as the city hasn’t had a designated zoning inspector since 2017.
“My property backs up to Buffalo Rock Brewery, which they said would have no amplified sound … but they use it,” he said. “That’s small-scale. How can you enforce amplification at the amphitheater if you’re not enforcing it at Buffalo Rock Brewery?”
The Brenners live in the Mill Creek subdivision, which is near the proposed site, but are unsure of whether their backyard would face the amphitheater or its parking lot. Both wondered whether city residents would pay more in taxes to cover the cost of safety services.
“We are allowed to charge an admission tax of 3 to 8 percent per ticket to offset some of the issues of police, EMS and access roads,” said Phil Dombey, city law director.
Haberstock questioned why the city didn’t notify residents first before the news was shared in the media.
“That was the applicant’s decision to go to the media,” Dombey said, adding that the matter became public record when the request for a conditional use permit to operate the amphitheater came to council on June 27. At that point, council referred the matter to the Planning Commission. On Monday, August 1 at 7:00 p.m., the commission will meet to review the drawings, hear from the applicant and ask questions. It’s also the best time for residents to offer sworn testimony, Dombey said.
“We expect a full turnout and a spirited public discussion,” Dombey said. “But right now, we don’t have all the facts. You have four more opportunities to be heard.”
The commission may make a decision that night or await further information before making a recommendation to council, which would then schedule three readings. Comments are welcome at each meeting, especially during the third and final hearing, which includes a public hearing promoted on the signs and in public notices.
Council member Barb Bruno agreed that the amphitheater is “out of the box” and unusual for Waterville, but said she expects to learn more on August 1.
“We don’t know the nitty gritty until it goes to the Planning Commission,” added council member Mary Duncan.
During the meeting, council also:
• Thanked the Waterville Rotary Club for cleaning up portions of the Anthony Wayne Trail and the downtown area where the Blues, Brews and Brats Festival will be held on Saturday, July 30.
• Heard John Rozic say that the Waterville, Waterville Township and Whitehouse fire co-op steering committee is in need of a ninth at-large member who would chair the committee.
• Learned that the old Valero gas station was purchased by the owner of an adjacent property who has not indicated any immediate plans. The old gas tanks will be removed soon.
• Thanked Wendy Gray for her work in planning a Christmas celebration this year. She brought examples of wreaths that can be reworked to hang in 28 locations throughout the city, as well as plans for the event. She is asking for the city to invest $10,000 into the event and decorations.
• Agreed to table, for a third time, a vote on a new, five-year contract with Clean Wood Recycling to operate a yard waste transfer station at 6730 Anthony Wayne Trail. Clean Wood has requested a new lease with an annual payment of $35,000 a year, up from $18,000 a year. The postponement of a decision is to give time for administrator Jon Gochenour to negotiate with Clean Wood. Resident Randy Sikorksi said he doesn’t understand why the city is “dragging its feet” over the increase for a valuable service. Residents can still drop off yard waste, as services have not been disrupted.
• Held a first reading on a proposal by Steedman Apartments’ agent to rezone 12.5 acres of a 36-acre parcel on Pray Boulevard, in order to build four buildings with a total of 144 units. The complex, when complete, will have seven buildings with 252 units. The Planning Commission recommended that the request not be approved because the land is designated in its master plan for commercial use.
• Approved a $79,790 contract with North Branch Nursery to plant 143 trees in areas of the city where the tree coverage is 30 percent or less. The city received a $25,000 grant to put toward the project.
• Held a moment of silence for Melvin “Skip” Fredericks, a retired longtime Public Works employee, who died last week.
• Proclaimed July 26 as Americans With Disabilities Act Awareness Day. The ADA was enacted on July 26, 1990 to ensure the civil rights of people with disabilities.
• Learned that the Board of Zoning Appeals will be meeting to hear about a proposed Auto Zone store on Pray Boulevard.
• Heard Kelly Colling ask why the city is naming the park next to her home Parker Square when money from the estate of Maryann Parker has been pledged but not paid. Dombey explained that when the construction company sends an invoice to the city, the estate will be invoiced. The riverfront park comprises Memorial Park and Parker Square, which is phase one of the renovations. Work is underway to install an outlook, sidewalk and lawn.
• Agreed to support the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department’s active transportation plan, which encourages the use of non-motorized transportation.
• Learned that a speed study conducted on the section of Waterville-Monclova Road between Royal Hampton and Dutch has shown that 50 percent of the vehicles drive 44 mph. Because of that average perceived speed, the Ohio Department of Transportation will not change the speed limit to 35 mph in the southbound lane. In the process, the city learned that the county has jurisdiction of the northbound lane, which is technically 55 mph. That will be lowered to 45 mph. Council member Anthony Bruno questioned whether a three-day study was enough to indicate the number of speeding incidents.
• Heard that the total of all funds is $10,811,442 – up $52,000 over this time last year.
• Heard that Waterville police will be hosting a class for bike patrol officers, including both police and fire personnel, on Friday, July 29 through Sunday, July 31.
• Congratulated Police Chief Joe Valvano on completing the Police Executive Leadership College.
• Heard resident and part-time Public Works employee Cameron Miller say that both Baer Park and electric boxes around town are marked with graffiti, including the word “dope.” Valvano said he’s looking into purchasing cameras to monitor Baer Park and will be stepping up patrols.
• Listened to Deputy Chief Zachary Bingham say that call volume is up 20 percent, or about 100 calls, over last year with 502 runs as of June 30. On June 28, the department was assisted by Whitehouse and the 180th Ohio Air National Guard fire departments to rescue an individual who fell off the cliff near the Roche de Boeuf bridge. Waterville is looking into investing into equipment for ropes rescues.
• Heard Public Works Director Ken Blair say that a telephone pole damaged by an accident at South Third Street and South Street will be removed either by First Energy or the city soon.
• Discussed the need to involve residents in trimming of trees near the streets or to step up tree trimming where trees overhang the streets and get hit by garbage and delivery trucks.