The City Council met at Carnegie Hall on Monday, July 12 with four items on the agenda to be discussed.
Marie Shepherd from Area Planning informed the Council that action will be taken against residents who have made the ground floor of at least one building zoned Commercial Historic Downtown (C-HD) their home, although the commercial zoning ordinance states only commercial use is permitted on the storefront ground level.
In similar cases, a property owner can request a variance when their planned use of their property deviates from local zoning laws designed to protect property values. If granted, a variance acts as a waiver to some aspect of the zoning law or regulations. However, Shepherd took the matter to Brad Kage, who declared it was a zoning issue, and therefore a variance couldn’t be used in this case.
She did say that she contacted the owner of one of the buildings, who thought it shouldn’t be a problem since the tenants keep the space maintained, but that still doesn’t concede with the ordinance.
Shepherd was asking the Council for support as they start addressing the people living in the downstairs areas.
Brian Hatfield gave his support, stating that he feels no one should live in the storefronts. A show cause hearing was scheduled for the Area Plan Commission. No motions or action took place.
The topic of ordinances continued when Clerk-Treasurer Shawn Gerkin requested a temporary waiver of Ordinance #878 on behalf of Andy Ertel. Mr. Ertel is planning a previously approved music event at Tripton Park on Sept. 4, and requested that the city temporarily waive the ordinance that prohibits the use of alcohol at Tripton Park so a beer garden can be utilized during the concert. Councilman Trent Wisner made the motion to allow the temporary waiver for Sept. 4 and the motion was seconded by Baron Wilder. Motion carried 4-1 with Jerry Lamb opposed.
Anna Walker then addressed the Council in regards to the new Main Street program she is spearheading. Walker requested a startup of $60,000, which will cover an operating budget, director salary, office expenses and more, and asked that the Council offer their financial support for the program at $45,000 a year for the next three years as the initiative gets off the ground. North Vernon Main Street is in collaboration with OCRA in order to offer resources and support to the current businesses and property downtown as well as implement new, fruitful businesses in the future.
Walker had originally addressed the Council during their April 12 meeting, requesting the Council to approve the establishment of a Main Street board, which currently consists of nine members, for use of the Stellar building as a meeting location and for the Council to be a financial partner.
The Council approved the first three requests at the April meeting, appointing Jack Kelley as their liaison for the Main Street board. They tabled approving a financial partnership and asked that Anna present them with a financial and sustainability plan before moving forward with funding.
Walker says she is ready to begin work, that bylaws and incorporation are almost finished and she is working on creating a 5-10 year work plan.
The Council agreed to her request, all except Jerry Lamb, who felt uncomfortable agreeing to finance three years as opposed to one.
The final item on the agenda was the promotion of Officer Wes Thayer of the North Vernon Police Department to detective in lieu of the departure of Detective Nick Megel. Thayer has been an officer with the NVPD for seven years and is a local resident.
“Wes is a good candidate. He’s a good guy.” Hatfield said of Thayer. He was selected by NVPD Chief Keith Messer out of three candidates. His first official day as detective will be Sunday, July 18.