Police/fire levy, 2 rezonings head to May ballot in Twinsburg
TWINSBURG – Three local issues – a 2.4-mill property tax levy to benefit police and fire pension funds and capital improvements and two rezoning measures – will be on the city’s May 4 primary election ballot.
At its Jan. 26 meeting, City Council authorized the Summit County Board of Elections to place the issues on the ballot.
The 2.4 mills is the same amount Council had hoped to enact in the latter part of 2020. That attempt was thwarted when voters passed an initiative issue in November to limit unvoted charter property tax to 2 mills.
Of the total, 0.7 mills each would generate funds for police officer and firefighter pensions, while 1.0 would go for police/fire capital improvements. The levy would generate $1.7 million per year. If passed, the first collection would be in 2022.
Mayor Ted Yates and Councilman Scott Barr explained Council proposed the levy after analyzing results from a community initiative survey indicating residents are supportive of backing the police and fire departments financially.
Barr added part of the money will go into the existing police/fire pensions funds, while two other funds would be created for police and fire capital improvements. The money could not be spent for any other purpose.
Meanwhile, voter approval of the two rezoning measures would pave the way for a pair of future housing developments.
The Hillview Co. (Heritage Development) is seeking to build up to 44 single-family cluster homes on 13.3 acres south and west of the Ravenna-East Aurora roads intersection and 35 homes on 12.3 acres on the southwest corner of Route 82 and Chamberlin Road.
The firm is asking voters to rezone the Ravenna Road parcel from I-2 limited industry to R-5 cluster housing and the Route 82 property from C-2 commercial to R-5.
The Ravenna Road site could allow for a maximum density of 46 units under R-5 zoning, but a conceptual plan by the Hillview Co. indicates 44 units. A townhome design is envisioned, with no more than four single-family cluster units attached in any building group.
Hillview has sought to have the Route 82 parcel rezoned three times in the last five years. Hillview rep Rob Benjamin told the planning panel late in 2020 that the land was zoned I-1 industrial when the firm bought it nearly 40 years ago, but voters OK’d rezoning to C-2 in 2005.
Because it has been difficult to find a business that is interested in the property, Benjamin said Hillview sought R-5 single-family cluster housing zoning in 2015, but soon after withdrew the request. In 2018, R-5 zoning was sought again, but Council voted unanimously not to send the issue to the ballot.
Hillview’s conceptual plan calls for 34 homes to be built by Ryan Homes along two cul-de-sac streets, with access onto Chamberlin Road. Plans are to call the subdivision Chamberlin Crossing.
A revised sign code will be on second reading at Council’s Feb. 9 meeting. Law Director David Maistros explained the revisions will put the city in compliance with Ohio Revised Code updates and case law relating to signs.
Council approved amendments to Section 147.1 of the codified ordinances regarding employees’ temporary work assignments and working out of their classification, and supported a resolution recognizing February as Black History Month.
The Section 147.1 amendments allow an employee to fill the vacated position of a department head or senior administrative staffer for a period not to exceed six months. If the vacancy continues beyond that time, the mayor can extend the temporary assignment for up to six more months, but the assignment cannot last beyond one year.
Compensation would be at a rate above the employee’s current rate, but no higher than 15 percent below the starting rate of the department head or senior administrative staffer.
Furthermore, if an employee’s duties include the requirements or skills of two or more positions, the base pay for the higher skilled position will prevail, provided that at least 50 percent of his/her average work week is occupied by utilizing those skills.
Yates praised the city’s finance department for receiving an Auditor of State Award with Distinction for the first time. He also sent his condolences to the family of Daniel Simecek, a 40-year veteran of the Twinsburg Fire Department – including 12 years as chief – who died Jan. 24 at age 84.
The mayor said plans are under way to install a crosswalk on Liberty Road near the Liberty Park ballfields, and announced the city soon will start hiring temporary summer workers.
He noted the city is ready to transition to a self-funded employee health care program. “We have been successful in holding down health care expenses in the last couple of years, and I believe it will be a seamless transition to the new program,” he said.
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