Friday, September 26, 2008

John Matuszak reports on Bexley City Council Meeting of September 23.


Capital University's "good neighbor" agreement with Bexley, signed last spring, is being put to the test already with a rash of wild parties being reported. The latest one last Friday included fights, marijuana and several arrests.

At the Sept. 23 Bexley City Council meeting,City Attorney Lou Chodosh said he thinks the agreement is working, and that university officials, including President Denvy Bowman, are responding personally to these problems.

Chodosh reported that Bowman has urged the city to "prosecute to the fullest extent of the law" any violators who end up in Bexley's mayor's court. Those who are arrested are also being referred to Capital for further disciplinary action.

Capital signed the agreement with Bexley to handle complaints about student behavior and trash and beer bottles being left on the streets and lawns. The complaints surfaced when the university sought a zoning change to turn condos for senior citizens on Astor Avenue into off-campus student housing.

The most recent event to get out of hand was an annual gathering of fraternity and sorority members from different universities. That event has already been cancelled for next year, Mayor John Brennan told council.

Residents living near the campus on Sheridan and College avenues have frequently complained about out-of-hand students. The good neighbor agreement came about last spring when Capital proposed to turn condos for senior citizens on Astor Avenue into student housing. that zoning request was okayed by council contigent on Capital'sromise to clamp down on rowdy students.

Another request for a zoning variance by Capital University had residents again questioning whether the institution is a good neighbor at last night's Bexley City Counil meeting.

Council did grant the latest variance that will allow Capital to convert a house at 2361 East Mound Street into offices for its alumni association. The property had been zoned for single-family use. The vote was 5 to 1, with Councilman mark Masser voting no and Councilwoman Robyn Jones absent.

The house is now being used as an honors dorm and is occupied by two students.

The request had residents concerned that Capital is encoraching on residential areas. They also questioning whether the renovation fits with the city's southwest master plan, which directs campus growth to the west side of the city rather than to the east.

Capital's attorney, Don Plank, explained that converting the building to office use creates a buffer between the university's administative buildings and the residential areas of the neighborhood.

The offices will mostly be used for small gatherings and will allow the alumni association to host potentialdonors and others, Plank said.

Another Capital attorney, Troy Bonte, added that the building could be used ocassionally for alumni gatherings for as many as 30 to 40 people.

Bonte told council that the university will be asking for a maximum occupancy of 49 people. But Bruce Langner, the city's development director, said the occupancy limit will be decided after a review of the building plans.

Two residents who rent homes on Euclaire Avenue owned by Capital, Tamara Angle and Melinda Akins, spoke to council and said that the university should be putting more attention into these properties before it spends money renovating.

The women reported that they have had difficulty getting the university to respond to requests for maintenance. Attorney Troy Bonte responded that Capital has hired a new management companyto take care of its rental properties.

Councilman Ben Kessler stated that the university has a lot of space for gatherings and he didn't think this site was a good spot for such events.

Mayor John Brennan suggested that Capital provide a schedule of events at the alumni offices to keep resident and police officers informed. The city has a similar arrangement with Ohio State University President Gordon Gee, who has his home in Bexley, the mayor aid.

Before voting for the zoning variance, Councilman Rick Weber said he was "not jumping up and down' about the new use, but he was comfortable with it and was committed to improving relations with the university.

Weber did add that Capital could make things easier when it comes forward with these zoning requests if it did a better job keeping up the properties it owns.


In other business-

Council's finance committee is expected to discuss next year's budget at an Oct. 7 meeting.

A proposed ordinance to prohibit picketing in front of residences has been referred to the safety committee and will be discussd at its Oct.14 meeting starting at 5:30.

The second round of bids for a new police station will be opened Sept. 30. The first set of bids came in around one milion dollars over estimates, leading architects to revise the projected cost for the project.


It looks like Mozart's pastry shop in Bexley has closed after being open only a short time in the new Gateway complex. But Breugger's Bagels,which had a shop in town for several years, is coming back and will open in the former Woodworker's building at Main and Cassingham, next to the Penn Station sub shop.


Service Director Bill Harvey reported that, because of skyrocketing costs, he has not yet ordered any road salt for the upcoming winter. He told council that the cost has jumped from $50 a ton paid last year to $150 a ton for 1,000 tons. And there is no guarantee of delivery. The city has about 150 tons on hand, and uses 100 to 200 tons per winter storm.

Harvey said he is looking at other options to de-ice streets, including brine and sand. There is also a possibility that crews will only salt main roads and intersections this winter. He said he will wait on a decision by council as to whether to order salt at the higher cost, or wait until the price possibly comes down.

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Design is copyright 2008. All rights reserved. Bexley Public Radio Foundation. Text is copyright 2008. All rights reserved. John Matuszak.

1 comment:

policoll said...

In Bexley, town and gown relations have improved during the past year, citing, for examples, the Fourth of July celebration and the art walk.

It takes a committed effort given the number of students and their yearly transitions to make the relationship with an educational institution work for the good of students and city residents. Liaison activities and ongoing collaboration are necessary to ensure that the concerns of the constituencies of both gown and town are carefully and properly addressed. Business and tax revenue could benefit from truly effective relationships.

Council should be encouraged to take the higher ground to make the relationship work and to encourage the opportunities increasing visitors bring to our city.