Van Wert City Mayor Ken Markward speaks about his discussion with a business at the north end of the City regarding litter. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)
Van Wert City Mayor Ken Markward speaks about his discussion with a business at the north end of the City regarding litter. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)

VAN WERT – During Monday's Van Wert City Council meeting, members of Council heard about future efforts to promote cleanliness within the City. During the last meeting, a concerned citizen approached Council about the amount of litter at Towne Center Square. Mayor Ken Markward updated Council on the situation.

Markward noted that after inspecting the surrounding areas, not all of the trash was coming from one business.

"Not all the trash in the north end of town is from the Walmart area," said Markward. "It's pretty obvious that some people are just throwing things down."

He did speak with the manager of Walmart, who said they plan to help reduce any litter by enacting several measures. Walmart plans to increase the number of times employees do perimeter walks to pick up trash. They also plan to contact the company that picks up their recycling bales to have them pick up more frequently. Markward noted that a dumpster that was placed outside during Walmart's recent renovations will soon be gone, which may also aid in efforts to reduce trash blowing away.

During his report, Councilman Bill Marshall reported that he is working with Young's Trash Service to hold a city-wide trash clean-up day, similar to the one held in 2018. Marshall said they are looking at September for a date but are still working out the plans.

Further, Marshall said there has been an uptick in code violations. Four types of violations are most prominent on his list: weeds and grass, trash, roofs and sheds with holes, and general junk. He asked that citizens remain vigilant in keeping up with their property.

It was also noted that brush pick-up is slated to begin Monday, May 3. Residents should have brush set at the curb Monday morning.

In other business, Auditor Martha Balyeat noted that the City's finances look better than expected. She said the City has taken in $27,000 more year-to-date than what they have spent.

"We're really not in as bad of shape as what I thought we might be," said Balyeat. "So, hopefully, that trend will continue."

Also during her report, Balyeat requested that Council pay out 500 hours of unused sick time to the estate of Tammy Ford, an assistant to the auditor who passed away earlier this month. Typically the City pays out up to 240 hours for deceased employees but had Ford retired she would have received 500 hours worth of pay. As a thank you for her years of service, Council approved the resolution to pay her family for the 500 hours.

During the economic development report, Council heard a request from the Van Wert County Foundation regarding downtown zoning. The plan under the Van Wert Forward project is to add residential spaces downtown, specifically on the second and third floors of downtown buildings. Under the current B-2 zoning of the downtown buildings, residential space is a conditional use, meaning the Foundation would need to get individual approval for each building. To help ease the process, Hall Block, property manager for Van Wert Forward, suggested that Council make residential use for floors above the first floor a permitted use.

Council plans to look over the information and will discuss the issue in the future.

In other business, Council made the following motions:

- Approved an ordinance vacating the alley behind inlots 2658, 2659, and 2660 in the City of Van Wert on its first and final reading.

- Approved an ordinance that prohibits citizens from leaving their animal’s waste on property that isn’t their own on its final reading.

- Approved an ordinance changing the first parking space north of the northwest corner of the intersection of East Central Avenue and South Market Street to a handicap parking space on its final reading.

With no further business, Council adjourned. The next Van Wert City Council meeting is set for May 10 at 6:30 p.m. During that meeting, the legislation for the adoption of the Downtown Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) proposal will be prepared.