Councilman Bill Marshall introduced an ordinance that addresses fencing within the City of Van Wert. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)
Councilman Bill Marshall introduced an ordinance that addresses fencing within the City of Van Wert. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)

VAN WERT – During Monday’s regular meeting, the Van Wert City Council further discussed how to tighten up the city fencing ordinance.

Councilman Bill Marshall, who heads up with the Health, Service, and Safety committee, has been focusing on the portion of the fencing ordinance that talks about what should happen to a fence should it need to be replaced. Marshall said he has received input from the community.

“I did not hear any opposition to having something that would relate to this,” he said.

Initially, Council discussed adding a percentage of damaged fence to the ordinance. For instance, if 50 percent of a fence that wasn’t in-line with City ordinance was damaged, the damaged portion would need to be brought up to code when it was replaced. Any damage less than 50 percent could be replaced to match existing fencing.

However, Councilman Jeff Agler disagreed and felt that any portion of a fence that was damaged should be replaced with fencing that was up to code.

“I think if any of the fence goes down––I don’t care if it’s three-[feet]––if three [feet] of the fence gets damaged he’s going to have to comply with the ordinance,” said Agler.

Many Council members agreed.

“In my thought process, if any part of your fence is damaged, if you’re going to put a new structure in, it’s got to be up to code,” said Council President Jon Tomlinson, who noted that when people renovate their homes they are required to be brought up to code in the process and felt the fences should follow the same rules.

If a part of a fence does fall down, the City can not make the property owner take down the fencing that is still up, but Tomlinson noted that the replacement fencing likely will not match the existing fencing.

“We shouldn’t allow people to match their fence because the old fence is [out of compliance],” said Tomlinson. “The new fence should be up to code because if not all you’re doing is perpetuating the cycle.”

The ordinance, said Council, is aimed at preventing unsafe and make-shift fences in the future and at helping to clean up the city. It’s also aimed at tidying vague language in the Van Wert City Code of Ordinances, which Law Director John Hatcher said will assist him in telling people exactly what needs to be done in order for their property to be in compliance with City code if a property owner receives a nuisance violation.

Marshall amended and introduced ordinance 21-02-009, which states that should a fence become damaged, the replacement fence must be brought up to code and be in full compliance. The ordinance was read for the first time and will be read again on March 8. It will be read for a final time on March 22 and then passed. Residents of the city are welcome to provide input on the ordinance before its passage.

Also during the meeting, both Mayor Ken Markward and Safety Service Director Jay Fleming noted that a public meeting is set for the new flood map. The meeting will be held via Zoom on March 5 at 5 p.m. More info can be found at vanwert.org.

Fleming also addressed the mailbox policy of the city. He stated that if a city plow worker hits a mailbox with a plow, not with snow coming off the plow, they will replace the mailbox as long as it was already in sturdy condition.

In other business, Council made the following motions:

Council passed the following ordinances on the first and final reading:

- a resolution authorizing the sale during the calendar year 2021 of municipally-owned personal property which is not needed for public use, or which is obsolete or unfit for the use for which it was acquired by internet auction, pursuant to Ohio Revised Code section 721.15(d).

- an ordinance to authorize the safety-service director to advertise and sell the city’s unused, unneeded, obsolete, or unfit vehicles by internet auction.

- an ordinance approving the community reinvestment area agreement between the City of Van Wert and Trucent Renewable Chemicals, LLC, Ohio.

- an ordinance approving the community reinvestment area agreement between the City of Van Wert and First Federal Savings and Loan of Van Wert.

- an ordinance to approve the detachment of a parcel of land on John Brown Road from the city of Van Wert.

Council read the following ordinances for the second time (one more reading will occur before passage):

- an ordinance modifying the speed limit on Mendon Road to 45 mph within City limits.

Council voted to table a resolution that accepts the Van Wert Forward Downtown Redevelopment Plan and read a resolution authorizing the Mayor and the Auditor on behalf of the City of Van Wert to sign a partnership agreement with the Van Wert County Commissioners for a State Department of Development’s Community Development Block Grant.

With no further business, Council adjourned. The next regular City Council meeting is set for March 8 at 6:30 p.m.