DORA proposal, municipal projects among topics discussed at Hillsboro City Council meeting

Reports from Hillsboro City Council members and city administrators at the Thursday, Aug. 11, council meeting included updates on a city’s DORA proposal, concerns about increased spending, and information on current projects and events in the city.

In Council Committee Reports, Streets and Safety Committee Chairman Adam Wilkin gave an overview of a recent ‘investigation’ meeting to discuss the submission of an application for an outdoor refreshment area designated (DORA) for the city.

According to the Ohio Department of Commerce, “Per RC 4301.82, a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area or “DORA” (aka Outdoor Refreshment Area or “ORA”) is no more than a specified area of ​​land that a local legislative authority has designated as exempt from certain open container provisions as defined in the legislative act that created the DORA.

“Thus, patrons of a DORA who purchase an alcoholic beverage for consumption on the premises from a designated DORA liquor licensee may leave the premises of the license with an open container of alcoholic beverage and continue to consume it within the DORA.”

Wilkin said Chillicothe and Wilmington are among the cities in Ohio that currently have a DORA. As previously reported, the Village of Greenfield recently engaged in similar discussions.

“Simply put, it would be a neighborhood that legalizes the ability to be outdoors in a certain area of ​​town with drinks from local establishments that contain alcohol,” Wilkin said. “The city administration asked for this to be put to committee for several reasons. The main reason is to promote the walkability of our city.

“Ideally, the neighborhood will be located to include the established restaurants we have, as well as other businesses and stores that are already here or may come to upscale Hillsboro in the future. The idea is to integrate a large part of the urban area into the DORA. »

Wilkin said if approved, the city “would have the ability to set the guidelines” for DORA, including its size, number of districts, location(s) and hours of operation.

Wilkin said “many downtown business owners and our own police chief support this idea.” However, he said the committees plan to hold additional meetings and get additional public input before making any formal recommendations.

Patty Day, the chair of the community improvement committee, said that aside from meeting with the street and safety committee, she had “no updates” from Horizon Telecom regarding their request. in June to set up a new point of presence site for an extended Internet connection. services on municipal property.

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Reporting to council, director of safety and services Brianne Abbott announced that the proposal to fund the Roberts Lane extension project was ranked first at the Commission’s second county caucus meeting. of Ohio Valley Regional Development in July.

The city has already secured funding for the estimated $8.6 million project, including a $2.3 million roadworks grant from the State Controlling Board for the extension of Roberts Lane to connect Fenner Avenue, State Route 73, Te Mar Way and Fairground Road.

As previously reported, the city also received a $336,000 pedestrian safety grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation, which will include the creation of “new high-visibility crosswalks with the installation of markings on the ground, islands of refuge and beacons for pedestrians” in the historic district of the city center. , according to Abbott.

Abbott told council on Thursday that city and ODOT officials had begun preliminary talks on the pedestrian safety project, with a site survey conducted in July.

“Construction won’t start, I believe, until 2024, so it will be a little while, but planning will start soon,” Abbott said.

For other city project updates, Abbott said the Northwest Waterline replacement project was scheduled to begin Aug. 22 and the new tornado siren was being installed from of Thursday.

In another discussion, Abbott told the council that the Hillsboro Police Department recently held mass casualty incident preparedness training with schools in the city of Hillsboro.

“Nobody really wants to talk about it or think about it, but it’s really important to be proactive in light of some of the events going on,” Abbott said. “All officers and dispatchers have visited the facilities in case of a terrible event, which we hope we never have to worry about.”

For economic development updates, Abbott said the city received 11 commercial and 12 residential building permit applications in July.

The new businesses, or new locations for existing businesses, are in various stages of development, with the exception of the new Hillsboro McDonald’s building, which opened this week. Other projects under construction include Buckeye Family Eye Clinic, Fenner Ridge Apartments, Marriott Hotel, Marshall’s and Patriot Public House.

The city also continues to host events including the downtown farmers market every Saturday morning; two “Movies Under the Stars” events scheduled for Friday August 12 and Saturday August 13 in the West Main Street green space; and a community barbecue scheduled for Sept. 2 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the former Governor Trimble Place Fire Hall. Abbott invited board members to attend and/or help serve food at the barbecue.

In Hillsboro Planning Commission news, Abbott said the commission has “approved a Certificate of Suitability for 24 Deli and held additional conversations regarding the Imagine Hillsboro Master Plan.”

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In addition to reviewing the preliminary tax budget, Auditor Alex Butler discussed Thursday the city’s tax revenues as well as their expenses, both higher than expected.

As of July 29, the city had received $3,037,966.39 in income tax revenue, an increase of 14.4% over the same period in 2021, according to Tax Commissioner Sherry Davis.

“I am confident that by the end of the year we will exceed what we have planned to collect this year,” Butler said. “On the other hand, spending has been tough, as we expected, this year.

“Utilities, our insurance costs, fuel costs – I know this will resonate with all of us. Water Plant Chemicals, [public works superintendent Shawn Adkins’] the materials and things he needs to run his department have been a budget challenge.

Butler said that while the city “anticipated” cost increases and was able to cover price increases, he warned the matter may need to be “reviewed” by council before the end of 2022.

“We may have to revisit that by the end of the year and increase the appropriations to make sure we have enough to get to the end of the year,” Butler said. ” We do not know yet. We’ll see how things play out over the next two months, but in October or November we might have that conversation, so I just want this on your radar.

Council Chairman Tom Eichinger asked, “When you say we need to own, is that money we have that hasn’t been formally budgeted? So it’s not a question of lack of money?

Butler said Eichinger’s clarification was “correct”.

In another chat, Butler provided insight into the city’s U.S. bailout law payments, as they received their last scheduled relief payment in July.

According to Butler, the city received $343,269.22 in September 2021; $1,370.41 (from unclaimed funds) in March 2022; and $344,639.63 in July 2022, “bringing the total to $689,279.26”.

“I no longer expect ARPA dollars to go to the city, so that’s what we have,” he said.

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Mayor Justin Harsha, who was unable to attend the July council meeting, dedicated his report to city employees who contributed to the success of the 2022 Bell Festival.

The three-day festival took place July 7-9 at its new location in the Town of Hillsboro’s green space on West Main Street. Abbott said in July that “the city’s public works and police departments were an integral part” of this year’s event.

“I just wanted to personally thank some of the people who put in a lot of overtime and were called late at night to help out,” Harsha said. “We had people from the water and sewer department, the street department and the storm department.”

As Harsha noted, after Thursday night’s concert, the green space stage was moved. He said crews worked late Thursday night into Friday morning, returning home around “three a.m..”

“It was a long night, so I really appreciate the extra help moving this stage,” Harsha said. “Some of the other people were involved in getting the grass ready and working on the electricity and everything that went into setting up and running the festival. I think it turned out to be a great event, and I think we found a permanent home for the festival, so I’m excited about that.

Harsha also credited the crews for working as a third shift over the past few weeks to complete a crack sealing project on city streets.

“I don’t know if you’ve seen some of the little wavy black marks on the sidewalk across town, but this is our crack-sealing machine that we’re finally going to use,” Harsha said. “We hope that the works in the streets will prevent potholes from appearing in winter.”

Harsha added that although Adkins “wants no” recognition, he played a major role in both projects.

“We have a great team working for the city,” the mayor said.

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Also on Thursday:

• During the citizen feedback portion of the meeting, a resident, Aaron Brown, spoke about concerns about a home, where he alleged that children were using drugs in the household. He gave Abbott additional details after the meeting.

• At the start of Thursday’s meeting, the board voted 6-0 to excuse the absence of board member Greg Maurer, who Eichinger said was “out of town practicing.”

• In a rare instance, the council president voted to break a tie at the Hillsboro City Council meeting on Thursday, August 11, leading to the passage of an ordinance banning large fireworks public in the city. For more on this vote and other legislation considered by the council, see the article at: https://highlandcountypress.com/Content/In-The-News/In-The-News/Article/Hillsboro- City-Council-president-casts-rare-tiebreaker-vote-council-debates-vacuum-truck-purchase/02/20/82462.