Government

BG to conduct overdue review of City Charter

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It’s won’t be a glamorous job, but somebody’s got to review the nuts and bolts of the Bowling Green City Charter. Mayor Dick Edwards reported to City Council Monday evening that he would like the city government to tackle a City Charter review in 2018. The last time the charter was reviewed was 2001. “Too many years have passed by,” Edwards said, noting the job should be completed every 10 years or so. The mayor said he will work on coming up with a timeline and potential people to work on the process. He already has in mind a couple Bowling Green State University faculty members, who have expertise in the area of city government. Above all, the City Charter review must be “citizen driven” and have sizeable participation by city residents, Edwards said. Council president Mike Aspacher said he is looking forward to a charter review. “I certainly am glad this is going to be a priority for us in 2018,” Aspacher said. In other business, City Council approved the rezoning of three parcels at the southwest corner of Manville and Clough streets, from planned institutional zoning to single-family residential. The zoning change will allow for three Habitat for Humanity homes to be constructed on the site. “I’m very excited it’s going to Habitat for Humanity,” council member Bruce Jeffers said. “I look forward to families moving into that area of town,” council member Sandy Rowland added. Also at the meeting,…

Read More

Last pitch made for BG charter amendment proposal

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   On the eve of the Tuesday’ election, proponents of the Bowling Green charter amendment made one last big pitch for the proposal to City Council Monday. And city officials, whose efforts had been questioned and criticized by the proponents for the past year, ended up thanking the college students behind the proposal for their passion and sincerity. The evening ended with a handshake between Mayor Dick Edwards and Brad Holmes, one of driving forces behind the charter amendment. On Tuesday, Bowling Green voters will determine whether or not the anti-pipeline amendment becomes a part of the city charter. Three BGSU students stood up Monday to defend the charter amendment. Alex Bishop, who is originally from Mansfield, said the Rover pipeline runs about a half mile from her home and spilled thousands of gallons of hazardous material that destroyed a wetlands. She doesn’t want to see something similar happen near her “second home” of BGSU. “This issue is really important to me,” Bishop said. “I wanted a chance to come here and talk about it.” Holmes said the charter amendment proposal had to jump through several hoops to even get on the ballot. “I’m just very happy we made it this far,” he said. Though the wording of the charter amendment has been criticized, the purpose of the proposal is to empower city officials and the community to reject plans for a pipeline that could be potentially dangerous, he said. “We’re very confident,…


BG Council members share big ‘wish lists’ for tight budget

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As members of Bowling Green City Council began their discussion on the city’s 2018 budget, it was fitting that Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter handed them “100 Grand” candy bars. There weren’t enough, so they had to share. That was pretty much the theme of the evening. The city projected a general fund deficit of $625,000 by the end of this year – primarily due to flat income tax revenues and continued cuts from the state. That deficit may be less than first projected, but will still be somewhere between $300,000 and $400,000. So Tretter used another food analogy. This time a pizza. “Perhaps you can think of all of the people who need to share the pizza,” she said to City Council. The pizza can be sliced many different ways. “But it’s still just one pizza we are sharing.” Before City Council gets its hands on any of the $15 million budget, much of it has already been allocated for personnel costs, debt services and ongoing contracts. Close to 76 percent of the general fund goes for salaries and fringe benefits, which is a reasonable percentage, Tretter said. So that leaves council with far less discretionary funds than their “wish lists” for the year. To get an idea of council members’ priorities, each was asked to identify areas they would like to see funded. Council President Mike Aspacher started off the list with the Community Action Plan – an item that made…


BG contested ward candidates identify top priorities

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Three of the four wards in Bowling Green have contested races for City Council. The only unopposed candidate in Tuesday’s election is the Third Ward’s Mike Aspacher. Two candidate forums have already been held in the city. So rather than ask the candidates to talk about the same topics, BG Independent News asked all of them to talk about their top three priorities if elected to City Council. Following are brief descriptions of each contested ward candidate and their priorities. The answers for the at-large candidates appeared on Tuesday. First Ward: Two candidates are running for one seat. Daniel Gordon, Democrat, who currently serves on City Council, manages Inner Peace Homes, a local foster care/adoption agency. He has two degrees from BGSU. He led the creation of Ridge Park, the first park in the First Ward, pushed city government to improve housing, and shaped legislation defending marginalized communities. Gordon’s priorities are: Revitalize neighborhoods in the city, especially on the East Side. Gordon said he has been working on this issue for a long time, and now the new Community Action Plan will support those efforts. “I want to make sure everybody lives in a safe and strong neighborhood.” Create jobs that will keep young people here in Bowling Green. “We need job creation, that will pay a living wage,” he said. The lack of those type of jobs is causing recent graduates and others to leave the community. “No one should have…


Six BG at-large candidates reveal their top priorities

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Six candidates are running for two open At-Large City Council seats in Bowling Green. And for the first time, the ballot has a mix of Democrat, Republican, Green Party and Independent candidates. Two candidate forums have already been held in the city. So rather than ask the candidates to talk about the same topics, BG Independent News asked all of them to talk about their top three priorities if elected to City Council. Following are brief descriptions of each At-Large candidate and their priorities. The answers for the contested ward candidates will appear on Wednesday. Holly Cipriani, Democrat, works at BGSU as an academic adviser. She has two degrees from BGSU, and has worked for various non-profit organizations serving survivors of domestic violence and people who have been trafficked or exploited. She serves as the programming chair for Not In Our Town, and was on the planning committee for Court Street Connects. Cipriani’s priorities are: Continue to review and keep a close eye on the city budget. “I would continue to anticipate cuts from the state,” Cipriani said. “So we need to be prepared.” Help to implement the Community Action Plan, with a focus on neighborhoods and Complete Streets. “We need to find ways we can actually implement it,” such as ways to fit bike lanes on existing streets and focus on improvements to the East Side. Examine ways to keep building city and university relationships. “I would like to continue to…


Nexus pipeline offers BG $80,000 to cross city land

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Earlier this month, Nexus pipeline officials filed a lawsuit against all holdout property owners. Bowling Green was one of those communities that had refused to grant the pipeline an easement to cross its land. This time around, the pipeline company was armed with eminent domain. On Oct. 11, Bowling Green agreed to a magistrate’s order to join in settlement discussions. And on Friday, the city received an offer of nearly $80,000 from Nexus to cross city-owned land in Middleton Township. “They were granted eminent domain powers. Now they’re exercising it,” said Bowling Green City Attorney Mike Marsh. But local pipeline protesters see it differently. They see it as the city selling out. “This morning we checked court records and found that on October 11 Mike Marsh silently signed away the city’s easement rights to Nexus pipeline,” Lisa Kochheiser stated. “The city has betrayed citizens’ trust and has scandalously kept it to themselves.” Last December, Bowling Green City Council voted unanimously to not grant as easement for the Nexus pipeline. Concerns were expressed about the pipeline route running just 700 feet from the city’s reservoir at the water treatment plant. “They have failed to inform the public that they aren’t willing to stand up for the will of the people,” Kochheiser continued. But Marsh said the city and other holdout landowners across the state have lost to eminent domain. All that remains to be determined is the dollar amount that will be paid….


BG council candidates try to win BGSU student votes

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council candidates wooed student voters Monday evening with promises to work on decent housing, better job opportunities and more renewable energy. Ten of the 13 candidates running for City Council spent two hours answering questions during a forum at Bowling Green State University. Third Ward candidate Mike Aspacher is running unopposed, so was present but did not participate. At-large candidate Carolyn Kawecka and Second Ward candidate Kent Ramsey were no-shows. The candidates were asked about three local topics by the moderators – rental housing, environmental safety, and the city-university relationship. They were asked how the city could hold landlords more accountable for the condition of rental properties. The question specifically referenced the “power over the city” held by landlords like the Newlove, Maurer and Green families. William Herald (Republican for Fourth Ward) said efforts have been made by the city to improve housing through such proposals as the master plan update. The city has worked on improving the appearance of neighborhoods, but “those efforts need to be continued,” he said. Scott Seeliger (Democrat for Fourth Ward) agreed that housing is a problem. “We certainly have an issue in housing.” He suggested that zoning changes would be the best way to make improvements. “We have to work with the owners. We have to work with the students.” John Zanfardino (Democrat for Second Ward) said the current programs in place for correcting substandard housing are insufficient. “I have grave concerns about…