PIQUA —The Piqua City Commission approved joining approximately 48 municipalities in litigation against Substitute Senate Bill 331 during their meeting Tuesday evening.
Substitute Senate Bill 311 will allow telecommunication companies to place small cell towers anywhere within the public right-of-way of municipalities without any oversight from the local government, according to the resolution. Cities will have to provide the telecommunication companies access to city-owned poles and other structures in the public right-of-way without having to follow any guidelines in regards to aesthetics or safety.
Substitute Senate Bill 331 became effective Tuesday.
“That has a great danger,” City Manager Gary Huff said, citing that there are no restrictions on how many small cell towers or antennas can placed in one location. They are also not regulating what the towers or antennas look like, which can conflict with the city’s design standards, Huff said.
Huff explained that the city is not opposed to telecommunication companies locating their small cell towers or poles within the city, but the city would like to be able to work with those companies and establish guidelines rather than the companies having full autonomy in the public right-of-way.
The cost will be $4,000 for the city’s share of the retainer of Ice Miller, LLP for the joint litigation. City Attorney Stacy Wall said Ice Miller is a national and international firm and that the city will be joining Columbus and Dayton area cities on their joint litigation. Wall also noted that Toledo, northeastern cities, Cleveland, municipalities within Lucas County, and municipalities within Cuyahoga County are expected to file separate pieces of litigation against the state.
Later in the meeting, the commission authorized a contract with Gamble Associates Architecture & Urban Planning to perform professional design services for the Lock Nine Park Renaissance project. This firm already completed 35 percent of the construction drawings and specifications for the project. This contract will be for the completed, detailed construction documents to have the project ready for the bidding and construction phase.
Design elements for the project mentioned during the meeting include unearthing and exposing the historic canal, a terracing effect on part of the park, upper and lower interactive water features, and more. The bike path is also expected to be “enhanced” at this location to provide better connection and access to the downtown, according to a representative from Gamble Associates.
This year, the city will be working on unearthing the foundation and the historic canal, moving the history wall, and moving the utilities at this location. The earliest construction could begin for the rest of the park would be 2018, but the city is still pursuing grants and other possible funding sources.
This engineering contract will be $247,500, which will come from the city’s general fund. The total construction budget of the project is expected to be $4.5 million, according to that contract.
Following that, the commission authorized an agreement with Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber, Inc. for engineering detailed design work on the wastewater pump stations. This is the next step in improving the wastewater lift stations.
“We have aging pump stations,” Wastewater Treatment Superintendent Chris Melvin said.
This agreement is not to exceed $188,000 and will come from the wastewater budget. Melvin noted that they will be applying for a grant and/or loan through the Ohio Public Works Commission for the construction cost. They are expected to start construction next year in July.
The commission also authorized the purchase of property located at 9480 N. County Road 25-A next to the current Water Treatment Plant. This is a sheriff’s sale, and the city’s bid is not to exceed $10,000. The city is purchasing this property as a potential spillway should the levy happen to breach or if the city decides to do any future construction in this area.
The commission also approved two lease agreements, one for the Miami Valley Corvette Club use Fountain Park on June 24 for a car show taking place between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and the other agreement for Mainstreet Piqua to use Lock Nine Park for Down a River, Down a Beer to take place on Aug. 12. River events at Down a River, Down a Beer will be held between 3-7 p.m. The beer tasting and other events will be held between 6-10 p.m.
During public comment, Ruth Koon of the beautification committee of Mainstreet Piqua asked for the commission’s blessing to start a committee to focus on the grassy slopes on U.S. Route 36/Ash Street on the way to the downtown.
“I think it’s so important on (U.S.) Route 36 that we look our best,” Koon said.
The commission also held public hearings on renewal applications for residents using parcels of land within the city for farmland use. They were all approved.
The commission also appointed members to the Energy Board and the Housing Council.
Reach Sam Wildow at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 451-3336