Piqua Commission debates zoning change


Change tabled 3-1

By Sam Wildow - Miami Valley Today



Resident seeks to remove charter

Bill Jaqua of Piqua announced that he would be working with a law firm to have an initiative placed on the November 2020 ballot that would propose changing the city of Piqua from a charter city to a statutory city, or general-law municipality.

“That’s going to happen, and we’ll let the public discussion, public debate, begin,” Jaqua said. “It’s one of the most exciting debates Piqua will ever have.”

According to the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office, the petition to place the initiative on the ballot may require the signatures of at least 10 percent of the electors of the municipality.

If the city were to become a statutory city, it could remove some of the local control in deciding how the local government is organized and the city would operate under rules in Title 7 of the Ohio Revised Code. The mayor would have more authority than other members of the commission and would become the chief executive officer for the city. Examples of statutory cities include the cities of Troy and St. Mary’s. Examples of other charter cities include the cities of Sidney and Beavercreek.

PIQUA — This week, the Piqua City Commission tabled an ordinance by a vote of 3-1 that would amend the zoning code to modify code provisions pertaining to standards for demolition projects.

Commissioner Bill Vogt voted against tabling the ordinance, which was on its first reading during the commission’s meeting on Tuesday evening, and Mayor Kazy Hinds, who motioned to table the ordinance, did not vote on tabling the ordinance.

The ordinance included a change that would remove the requirement to demolish accessory structures to buildings if the structure to which they are an accessory is demolished. The Piqua Planning Commission, by a vote of 4-1, did not recommend the zoning change. The request to change the zoning code originally came from Commissioner John Martin.

“If a house is destroyed in the city of Piqua or removed … if there’s an accessory structure located on the premises that is separate from the house, it would allow that structure to remain on the premises without it being removed,” City Law Director Frank Patrizio said. “Currently, if the main structure is damaged or destroyed … the code requires all structures be removed from the premises.”

Currently, if a property owner demolished a principal structure on a property and sought to keep an accessory structure on the property, the property owner could seek a special use permit from the Planning Commission that would allow the structure to stay. If the proposed change were adopted, the property owner would not need to seek that special use permit in order to keep the accessory structure.

Commissioner Kris Lee asked why the Planning Commission voted against this change.

Community and Economic Development Director Chris Schmiesing said it appeared the Planning Commission “felt like the provisions in the code work effectively as its currently written.”

Vogt stated that the way the zoning code currently reads, a property owner could be forced to tear down “a perfectly good garage.”

Hinds stated concerns about vacant lots with only just garages on those lots.

Martin said that tearing down a garage because the house was demolished could mean the property owner could lose value on their property and the city could lose additional property taxes. Martin also suggested later on that code enforcement could address any code issues with left over structures on the property.

During public comment, local property owners discussed how they were not aware of this requirement to demolish accessory structures when they demolished a house on one of their properties and left the garage up. They discussed how they had to replat the property to join it with an adjacent property in order to save the garage.

Hinds later motioned to table the ordinance in order to have a work session with the Planning Commission to discuss the proposed change with it.

Announcements, public comment

Also during the meeting, Nathan Penrod of Piqua announced that he plans to start a new, nonprofit Piqua Junior Baseball and Softball League in order to provide more baseball and softball options for kids.

“I have a group of trusted and dedicated volunteers ready to begin this journey with me,” Penrod said. Penrod said that he hopes to get affiliated with a nationally recognized youth sports organization.

“My vision is to make this all about the kids,” Penrod said.

“I’m excited to see what you can bring to Pitsenbarger,” Hinds said.

Later during Tuesday’s meeting, there were a number of calls for unity as members of Watch Piqua and Positively Promoting Piqua, as well as other residents, were present in the audience at the commission meeting. Hinds noted the “energy” in the room.

“The more that we are together, the stronger we are,” Hinds said after asking everybody in attendance to look around at their neighbors. “What happens here helps to build our city up or tear our city down.”

Later during public comment, Natalie Young of Piqua addressed “the elephant in the room” and said she was offended by an email sent out by members of Positively Promoting Piqua.

“I just wanted to make a few points that just because there are certain citizens that are content does not necessarily mean that those that aren’t so content are negative or trying to cause a problem or just cause a stir in general,” Young said. Young went over positive things she felt were happening in Piqua, such as the expected improvements at Lock 9 Park, while later stating that the population and income tax revenue have not grown.

Dan French, chairman of Positively Promoting Piqua, spoke after Young, saying the mission of Positively Promoting Piqua was to make Piqua a better place to live and work.

“Most of the people I speak with think our city is improving,” French said. After mentioning new health facilities and restaurants coming to Piqua, French said, “We’re going in the right direction.”

“You come to work every day trying to make things better, I believe,” French said to the commissioners and city staff.

French referenced the email Young brought up, stating it was a request for support for the commissioners. He called the commissioners volunteers and said, “I think as volunteers and just because we’re all humans, we need to be dealt with more politeness and civil discourse.”

Later during the commissioners’ comments, Commissioner Kris Lee said he was willing to listen to everybody who comes and speaks regardless of their tone.

“I appreciate everybody that comes up here and speaks,” Lee said. “You’re allowed to be upset.” Lee added, “We’re all in this together.”

“We’re here to serve the people,” Commissioner Chris Grissom said. “We’re all on the same boat.”

Utilities also came up again during the meeting, with Jey Roman asking about level billing and Martin asking why the city could not offer level billing all year long. Vogt also encouraged residents to keep track of their usage on their utility bills.

“If you cut down on your usage, you won’t owe as much,” Vogt said.

The commission ended their meeting by going into executive session to discuss pending or imminent litigation.

Change tabled 3-1

By Sam Wildow

Miami Valley Today

Resident seeks to remove charter

Bill Jaqua of Piqua announced that he would be working with a law firm to have an initiative placed on the November 2020 ballot that would propose changing the city of Piqua from a charter city to a statutory city, or general-law municipality.

“That’s going to happen, and we’ll let the public discussion, public debate, begin,” Jaqua said. “It’s one of the most exciting debates Piqua will ever have.”

According to the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office, the petition to place the initiative on the ballot may require the signatures of at least 10 percent of the electors of the municipality.

If the city were to become a statutory city, it could remove some of the local control in deciding how the local government is organized and the city would operate under rules in Title 7 of the Ohio Revised Code. The mayor would have more authority than other members of the commission and would become the chief executive officer for the city. Examples of statutory cities include the cities of Troy and St. Mary’s. Examples of other charter cities include the cities of Sidney and Beavercreek.

Reach Sam Wildow at swildow@aimmediamidwest.com. ©2019 Miami Valley Today, all rights reserved.

Reach Sam Wildow at swildow@aimmediamidwest.com. ©2019 Miami Valley Today, all rights reserved.