Panel talks about

sign code changes

At the city planning commission's Jan. 4 meeting, Planning-Zoning-Building Director Denise Januska said the latest sign code revision requires electronic signs to be at least 250 feet from a landmark district. It previously was set at 500 feet.

Members also agreed to apply the 250-foot distance to the areas surrounding the T-1 transitional zoning district along East Garfield Road. Chairman Kathi Grandillo pointed out electronic signs are already prohibited in the T-1 district.

Based on the panelists' comments, Januska said her staff would revise the map and text, and present them to the members at the Jan. 18 meeting. Members then forwarded the changes to City Council with a positive recommendation. They were on first reading at Council's Jan. 23 meeting.

In other matters, the panel voted to forward a positive recommendation to City Council for the approval of the final plat for Hawthorn of Aurora Phase 5.

That phase consists of 26 single-family lots and 24.5 acres of open space. There would be nine lots on Morgan Trail Extension, seven on Nancy Drive Extension and 10 on the Nancy Drive cul-de-sac.

The commission also approved a final site plan for a Tire Max auto care business on West Maple Extension behind the PNC office building. Tire Max plans to build a 7,000-square-foot facility on 1.28 acres, with parking for 33 vehicles.

The panel re-elected Grandillo as chairman, and selected Peter French as first vice chairman and Laura Duguay as second vice chairman.

Capital fund sees

surplus of $2.2 M

According to Finance Director Timothy Clymer's report to Council on Jan. 23, the city ended 2016 with a balance of $2.2 million in the capital improvement fund. That was after a transfer of $1 million from the general fund.

The 2017 budget proposed $6.8 million in new capital investments from all funds.

The general fund ended 2016 with a balance of $9.1 million. Clymer said the city has an informal policy of maintaining at least three months of budgeted expenditures in the general fund as an emergency reserve, which equates to $8 million to $9 million.

The water and sewer funds collectively decreased by $433,000, primarily because of significant waterline improvements. "While restricted capital funds of $4.4 million exit for the combined enterprises, a long-term funding solution for a sustainable capital improvement plan must remain a priority," Clymer said.

"The 2017 budget conservatively projects income that is attainable, with the general fund having a $61,000 operating surplus," he noted.

Raise is proposed

At its Jan. 23 meeting, City Council's committee of the whole discussed granting a 2 percent increase to the base salary of the law director. The measure would raise Dean DePiero's base salary from $134,152 to $136,835.

Council also heard a request from Police Lt. Rob Hagquist that part-time dispatcher Dawn White fill the full-time dispatch position being vacated by Becky Ballou, who is retiring.

Other actions discussed were purchasing a cot loading system for the fire department from Stryker EMS at a cost of $26,282 and a contract with GPD Design ($24,250) for engineering design services for a parking lot at the Hartman property on Townline Road.

City one of safest

places statewide

A website called valuepeguin.com has ranked Aurora as Ohio's 37th safest community for 2016, with a crime score of 530.

Ther website rated 221 communities, using data from 2014 FBI crime statics, which are the recent data available. The raw data included property and violent crimes.

Broken down into three population groups, Hudson was the highest ranked community in the large category (over 20,000 residents), followed by Hamilton in Warren County, Solon, North Ridgeville and Brunswick.

Brecksville had the lowest crime score in the mid-sized category (10,000 to 20,000 residents), followed by Brunswick Hills Township, Broadview Heights, Poland Township and New Franklin.

Leading the small communities (5,000 to 10,000) were Russell Township in Geauga County, St. Clair Township in eastern Ohio, Olmsted Falls, Kirtland and Waterville (south of Toledo).

Final crime scores ranged from 178 (Russell Township) to 6,021 (Cleveland).

Book sales slated

Friends of Aurora Memorial Library will have book sales on the following dates in the next few months: Today (Jan. 25), Feb. 8 and 25, March 8 and 18, April 5 and 22 and May 10 and 27. Many books and other media are available.

Recycling a must

Per city Ordinance 1997-37, all residential households in Aurora must participate in the city's system of collection and disposal of recyclable materials. Each new household is responsible for registering with the Portage County Recycling Center to commence service. Single-stream recycling became effective recently. Any questions about recycling should be referred to the city's service department at 330-995-9116 or Portage Recycliing at 330-678-8808 from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

City brush pickup

The city's service department conducts a brush pickup program from April through October, weather permitting.

Brush must be placed at the curb before 7 a.m. on the designated deadline dates to guarantee collection (see calendar of services at www.auroraoh.com/530/Brush-Collection). Brush shall be picked up from residential-developed lots only with existing homes, excluding private developments, condominiums, apartment complexes, and any other commercial properties.