MILLERSBURG -- In an effort to keep up with the demands of modern technology, Village Administrator Nate Troyer encouraged council to move on coming up with some sort of regulation to keep up with the proliferation of wireless communication facilities in towns across the state.
"A rider on a bill that was recently passed into law, these facilities can now be put up just about where ever these companies want to," Troyer said. "There is a process to permit them, regulate them somewhat. It is our understanding that we don't have a lot of teeth in that. "
More than 20 municipalities have joined in a lawsuit to try and fight this, and Wooster's city manager has graciously shared the permits and development standards they have with Millersburg.
"After looking at it, I'm not an engineer," Troyer said. "I don't know that I'm comfortable, that if a company applies for something like this, I don't have the knowledge or the tools here to say if what they're proposing is adequate.
"They can be potentially be talking about going on traffic signals, and things like that," he continued. "I don't have the ability to determine that. What I'd like to see happen is, we farm this out to a consultant with an engineering department that can handle the dirty deeds for us."
The applicants would pay the consultant a fee.
"I think that's how we should go," Troyer added. "I don't think the lawsuit is going to change anything.
Village solicitor Bob Hines said the lawsuit asked for a temporary restraining order, which was refused by a judge.
"The law, as it stands, is in effect, so we could get applications at any point," Hines said. "If we're going to do this, we should move. I think we should do it to regulate as much as possible."
He pointed out Wooster has two engineers on staff. "To read the ordinance that Wooster passed, it is very technical," Hines said. "It is really hard to understand. The attorney from Wooster I spoke with couldn't understand it either. It would be tough for Nate or any non-engineer to know if the application meets the requirements of the ordinance. There is a provision where you can refer it out to a consultant, and charge the applicant for the consulting fee. That's the way I think we should do it."
Hines said the village should be able to cover its consulting fees.
"If we set it up where it gets approved in-house, than I would be responsible for approving the requests," Troyer said. "If we farm it out, the consultant makes that decision. It still goes through council."
In response to council member Brent Hoffstetter's query about rejecting an application, Hines pointed out that things like maintaining a historic district or some god-awful tower in a residential district might be grounds for denying.
"Wooster has already had a couple applications," Hines said. "We may only get a handful. But we want to make sure that the ones we do get are aesthetically pleasing and structurally sound."
Troyer noted that a request for an 80-foot tower on Clay Street had been requested last year before the new law was passed.
Hi-definitiion TVs and smart phones, and faster and faster communications are the reasons behind the big push for these towers.
"From the background I read about it, Ohio wants to be business friendly," Hines said. "This was ram-rodded through under the radar, which hit all of these towns by surprise that the state had passed this law. Wooster borrowed its ordinance from Cincinnati. I recommend we borrow from Wooster."
Council member Kelly Hoffee said that normally she is against more regulation, but she is for it in this instance.
The village will work on putting together an ordinance based on Wooster's.
In other business, Brian Collett was selected to fill the utility department position. Collett is a Millersburg resident with past work experience with Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the University of Akron maintenance department, as well as working part time with the Holmes County Park District.
Plans for resurfacing are set to advertise with a bid opening on May 19.
The streets to be paved include Lakeview, Spring, Northern, Sunset, East Jackson Extension, Briar Lane, Rustic, Hillside, Cliff, Pearl, Fairview, No Name, Quail, Kenton Alley, Douglas, South Crawford, Blackbird Alley, (north and south of Jackson), South Alexander, Swan Alley, Courthouse Alley, South School, (Adams-Jackson), Clinton Alley, Liberty and an unnamed alley perpendicular to Liberty.
"We re also awaiting contractor quotes on the curb repairs in Rustic and storm sewer extension on Spring Drive that we want to complete prior to resurfacing," Troyer said. "We're just waiting to get them lined up and scheduled in. We're going to have a busy summer."
Troyer noted that he spoke with Village Motors about the storm sewer that was causing problems, and they are meeting with a contractor this week to see what they can do to remedy the situation.
"We hope to get that resolved pretty soon," Troyer said.
Reporter Kevin Lynch can be reached at 330-674-5676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.