Government

Golf carts must pass inspections to be on city streets

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green residents who like to drive golf carts on city streets may soon be able to do so legally. The first step in the process was accomplished Monday evening when City Council passed an ordinance regulating under-speed vehicles. The next step must be taken by the golf cart drivers, whose vehicles must pass an inspection process. As of Jan. 1, a state law deemed it illegal to operate under-speed or utility vehicles on public streets unless they are registered, Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter told City Council on Monday evening. The city ordinance will allow the golf carts on city streets with speed limits of 25 mph, except for Main and Wooster streets. The inspection program has been set up with the local police division. The vehicles must have proper brakes, lights, turn signals, tires, windshield wipers, steering, horns and warning devices, mirrors, exhaust systems, windshields and seat belts. Once an inspection is passed, the golf cart or other slow-moving vehicle can be registered and titled just like other vehicles. Stickers indicating registration will have to be placed on the carts. Police Chief Tony Hetrick said after the council meeting that two inspection events will be scheduled for golf carts. After that, the police will do inspections by appointment only. Also on Monday evening, council passed an ordinance authorizing the trade of property with First Presbyterian Church, and the donation of land to the Wood County Committee on Aging to be used for a new senior center. Former city administrator Colleen Smith praised council for its decision to donate the property for…

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Planet Fitness plans to open gym in Bowling Green

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green has long been the home to plenty of pizza joints. Maybe that’s why it’s becoming the home of more exercise gyms. Planet Fitness is the latest gym business to plan on making Bowling Green its home. At Wednesday’s city planning commission meeting, Planning Director Heather Sayler said Planet Fitness has plans to open a gym in the Shoppes on South Main strip mall, south of East Gypsy Lane Road. Sayler also announced a few other commercial and industrial projects underway in the city. A permit has been issued for the construction of a Home2Suites extended stay hotel at 1630 E. Wooster St., in the space formerly used by Victory Inn. The Home2Suites is one of Hilton’s hotels. Another permit has been issued for an addition to the Aldi grocery store at 1010 S. Main St. Currently under review is a permit for site improvements of the McDonald’s restaurant on East Wooster Street. Sayler also noted an increase in requested zoning permits, with 166 being sought this year compared to 137 at his time last year. New construction this year includes 17 single-family homes, three commercial buildings, 1 industrial site, and three institutional facilities. The city’s engineering division has approved construction plans for Plat 1 of The Reserve at Martindale, which consists of three proposed lots along Pearl Street and Martindale Avenue. The city is also reviewing a preliminary drawing for Plat 8 of Pheasant Farms. Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the planning commission reviewed a manufacturing zoning definition request that would allow a vocational training school to be built in Bellard…


Conneaut water project a ‘nightmare’ for city and residents

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Neighbors and city officials can agree on at least one aspect of the Conneaut Avenue water project – it’s been a nightmare. For those living along the stretch of Conneaut from Mitchell Road to Wintergarden Road, the project has meant multiple boil advisories, yards still torn up for the waterline work, and almost constant dust from the gravel roadway. For the city employees, the project has been a source of frustration caused by faulty waterline equipment and unexpected delays. Has the waterline project been a headache and a nightmare? “Yes and yes,” said Bowling Green Public Utilities Director Brian O’Connell. In an attempt to explain the delays, the city invited residents along the waterline to an open house Thursday. On display were some of the pieces of defective equipment that have plagued the project. The project began in January to replace the old water main, affecting about 50 homes along Conneaut Avenue. For each home, a “saddle” is wrapped around the waterline, allowing a hookup with the home. The saddles used with the old line were made of cast iron and were severely deteriorated. So new saddles were ordered and fitted to the waterline. But the new saddles would not seal on the old waterline, since it was not an exact round shape. So new PVC pipe was installed and the saddles were fitted. Residents were advised to boil their water, and all seemed good. Then the saddle connections started leaking. So different saddles were ordered and put on the waterline. Residents were again asked to boil their water. Again the seals…


BG Council debates further fight against pipeline

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   At least two Bowling Green City Council members are interested in taking the Nexus pipeline fight further. Council has already rejected an easement to allow the pipeline to cross city-owned land within miles of the city’s water treatment plant. The city held a panel discussion with four geologists addressing their concerns about the pipeline. And the mayor has written several letters identifying concerns to FERC, federal and state legislators, and the pipeline. But on Monday, council member John Zanfardino suggested that the city look into filing a motion to intervene on the project with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. “I know there are questions of cost,” Zanfardino said. But the costs may be worth it to ensure safe drinking water, he said. Zanfardino referred to one of the panelist’s concerns that the environmental statement for the pipeline did not even mention several risks. “This seems to give us a legal leg to stand on,” if something happens, Zanfardino said of the motion to intervene. Though one of the panelists said the cost to file a motion to intervene would be “negligible,” the city’s legal counsel thinks otherwise, especially if it leads to greater litigation and expense.  So Zanfardino suggested some exploration should be done. “We’re running out of time,” he said. FERC tends to rubber-stamp pipeline projects even in the best of times, Zanfardino said. “And we’re not in the best of times.” Council member Daniel Gordon agreed. “There is a real sense of urgency here,” he said. “We can’t put a price tag on our water supply here in Northwest Ohio.”…


BG cracks down on ‘deplorable’ house on Wooster

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The house is the problem child on the East Side – 1014 E. Wooster St. Neighbors have reported trash, a recliner and a mattress piled in the front yard. This past weekend, the college students living there had a TV “blaring” in the front yard. The inside of the house has also had its share of problems, according to records kept by the city. “It is unfortunate that conditions like this exist and there is so little regard for community values and people who reside in the neighborhood,” Mayor Dick Edwards said during Monday evening’s city council meeting. The owners of the house, Ronald F. and Mary Jo Trzcinski, live in Holland, Ohio. The city has recorded two pages of complaints and official responses to the “deplorable conditions and appearance” of the house that sits to the east of Crim Street across from Bowling Green State University. “It’s enough to make your head spin,” Edwards said. The mayor made several trips to the property over the weekend, and East Side advocate Rose Hess continued to monitor the site. “I think it’s time to take the gloves off with this property,” Edwards said. Over the last few years, the city’s police division, fire division, code enforcement officials, and Wood County Health District have intervened. Each time they have asked the owner to cleanup or repair items, the Trzcinskis have done just enough to comply. This past weekend, Hess recorded more problems at the property. “Last night we drove past there and a 36-inch flat screen TV was blaring in the front yard.  (Interior…


BG mayor may join ‘Climate Mayors’ national movement

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards is bucking President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate control. During Monday’s City Council meeting, Edwards said he is investigating joining the Climate Mayors national movement. “Several residents have been in touch with me about the possibility of joining with mayors throughout the country in combating climate change and in preparing for global warming,” Edwards said. “The intensifying of the environmental movement among mayors is proceeding on a bi-partisan basis in partial response to some of the proclamations emanating in recent days from Washington,” the mayor said. Edward’s statement earned him an emotional thank you from council member Sandy Rowland, and applause in the council chamber from citizens and council members. The mayor mentioned a recent NPR interview he heard featuring the mayor of Carmel, Indiana. That city, like Bowling Green, has no risk of the global warming risk from rising ocean waters. But the Carmel mayor also believes in the need for climate control efforts. “Mayor (Jim) Brainard’s comments about Carmel could well have been said about Bowling Green and our efforts to be on the leading edge of environmental sustainability,” Edwards said. Both mayors are Republicans and are bucking the trend of some in their party. In the NPR interview, Brainard talked about why his community in Indiana cares about climate change. “We see ourselves as a part of the country and the world. And we realize if there’s that sort of displacement, we’re at risk for all sorts of bad things,” Brainard said. “There’s also the frequency and intensity…


BG Council debates how to boost general fund

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Absence makes the heart grow fonder – even if it’s just the possibility of losing city trash pickup. Bowling Green City Council members held a meeting prior to their regular meeting Monday evening to debate how to keep afloat the city’s sinking general fund revenue. Prior to the meeting, the options had been narrowed down to three basic ideas: Redistribute income tax revenue, which would require a vote by city residents. This option would take money – $500,000 to $1 million – from city utilities and put it in the general fund. Charge a tree trimming assessment on property taxes, which would not require a citizen vote. An owner of a $150,000 home would pay $80 to $100 a year, which would generate about $300,000. Change city trash pickup, either by privatizing collection or maintaining city collection but start charging residents for the service. Privatizing would save the city $800,000 annually. Continuing the city service would cost the average homeowner $12 or $13 a month. This would not require a vote by citizens. Of those options, the one creating most citizen uproar is the privatization of garbage collections. That response came as a surprise to Bob McOmber, who has served on council for 12 years. During that period, trash pickup has been the source of many complaints. “They tell us how lousy our trash collection is,” McOmber said. But now that the service may go to a private company, the feelings have changed. “We love our trash collection,” he said. And many citizens have even expressed a willingness to pay the city…