County backs rezoning for business expansion

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News     Rezoning of 74 acres north of Bowling Green was given the green light last week to make way for an expansion of Principle Business Enterprises. The Wood County Planning Commission voted to recommend the acreage be changed from agricultural to M-1 light industrial, according to Dave Steiner, county planning director. The Middleton Township Trustees will make the final decision on the zoning change request. The property is located on the north side of Devils Hole Road, just east of Interstate 75. The business, Principle Business Enterprises, can be seen from I-75. The company needs the land for additional production equipment and potentially to build a new warehouse/distribution facility. The new facility would replace the company’s current warehouse located in Ampoint, in Perrysburg Township. The company has already secured approval for an enterprise zone agreement with the Wood County Commissioners. The agreement gives the company 100 percent real and personal property tax abatements for 10 years. The company, which makes products for bladder control, is planning a $4 million expansion which would add 47,000 square feet to the existing building. Principle Business Enterprises currently employs about 235 people, and will create at least five new jobs with the expansion. That estimate is very conservative since each new line at the plant will employ six or seven people. The firm produces various products for incontinence, including “Tranquility” and disposable swimwear, and footwear like Pillowpaws and slipper socks. “We are really making a difference in the lives of people with difficult physical challenges,” Chuck Stocking, CEO of the company, said earlier this year during a meeting with the county commissioners. “We’ve had such consistent growth,” said Larry Jones, CFO of Principle Business Enterprises. “As the boomers shift into that period of their lives” when they have more physical needs, the company is expanding to meet them. “It’s a good problem to have,” Jones said of the company’s need to expand. Stocking also told the county commissioners that the company is now working with the Veterans Administration. “It took us seven years to crack the code on how to do business with the Veterans Administration,” he said. “We have a team working on better care for our veterans.” The long term vision for Principle Business Enterprises includes additional expansions, Stocking said. Jones said the company provides a safe and good work environment, so the longevity of its employees is quite high. Steiner said the company is a good neighbor. “They have been good corporate citizens as well.” As part of the enterprise zone agreement, Principle Business Enterprises will make the school districts involved whole. That means the company will pay $35,000 a year to Eastwood and $4,400 a year to Penta Career Center. Also at last week’s county planning commission meeting, approval was given to three housing subdivisions – two in Middleton Township and one in Perrysburg Township. The subdivision plans included: Saddlebrook Plat 18, with 20 single-family residential lots covering approximately 7.11 acres in Middleton Township. Eckel Trace Plat 4, with 14 single-family residential lots on 5.38 acres in Perrysburg Township. Riverbend Lakes Plat 3, with 22 single-family residential lots on 11.95 acres in Middleton Township.          

BG to spread wastewater rate hike over 4 years

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green wastewater customers will soon see a hike in their bills – but the increases will be spread out over four years to ease the pain. The city’s Board of Public Utilities voted Monday evening to raise wastewater rates so they cover the expense of providing the services. The city recently hired a consultant to look at the current wastewater rate structure, and look at the expenses to operate the city’s wastewater plant. The study found that the city is undercharging its customers. “We not currently collecting enough to fund the utility,” Bowling Green Public Utilities Director Brian O’Connell said last month. The wastewater study also noted that the city’s residential and industrial customers are currently subsidizing the commercial and wholesale customers. Consequently, the commercial and wholesale customers will see larger increases than the residential and industrial users. “You don’t want those numbers to get too far out of whack,” O’Connell explained. The results of the study were presented to the city’s board of public utilities, with recommendations that revenues need to increase by about 21 percent in order to meet the projected 2020 revenue requirements. “We need to have a rate adjustment,” O’Connell said. The rate hikes will be spread out over four years, with 5 or 6 percent increases each year. O’Connell sees the proposed rate increases as reasonable, especially since they will be spread out over a period of four years. “They can plan for it. It’s a more moderate increase for them,” he said. The study listed typical wastewater bills for each type of customer in Bowling Green. The average monthly residential bill is currently $17.30. Over the next four years, the proposed rate increase would bump the average monthly residential bill to $18.21 in 2017, $19.12 in 2018, $20.03 in 2019, and finally $21 in 2020. The report also compared wastewater bills in Bowling Green to those in other municipalities in the region.  Those monthly residential averages were $65.29 in Napoleon, $34.08 in Perrysburg, $30.94 in Fremont, and $26.41 in Findlay. The average commercial bill for wastewater in Bowling Green right now is $89.75. The proposed rate increases would hike those another $4.31 per month each year until 2020 when they will reach $107 a month. That compares to commercial monthly rates of $206.69 in Napoleon, $204.46 in Perrysburg, $162.44 in Fremont, and $97.36 in Findlay. The average monthly industrial bill in Bowling Green is currently $757.55. The proposed increases would bump those up by $30.11 per month each year until 2020 when they will hit $878 a month. Other area communities charge industrial monthly rates of $2,044.51 in Perrysburg, $1,718.69 in Napoleon, $1,359.18 in Fremont, and $676.74 in Findlay. “Wastewater is kind of a weird animal,” O’Connell said last month. Unlike water and electric, for which customers are charged more when the city delivers more – with wastewater the city charges for taking away a used product.  “There’s little ability to grow sales.”  

Local candidates face questions at forum

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the nation was preparing for the second presidential debate Sunday evening, Wood County residents filled up seats in a Bowling Green church to listen to local candidates. Though the forum was much less contentious than the presidential debate, there were a few accusations lodged at the local level. The League of Women Voters from Bowling Green and Perrysburg hosted the candidate forum for nine county, state and national races. Questions for the forum were accepted from the audience on note cards ahead of the event. But because there were 17 candidates sharing the stage, only two questions were posed to each. The candidates were all given a couple minutes to sum up at the end. The biggest sparks flew when the candidates for the Ohio House – Republican Theresa Gavarone and Democrat Kelly Wicks – were called to the microphones. The first question asked each to identify their top two priorities. But in response to multiple flyers mailed to local residents and a television commercial accusing Wicks of not paying his taxes, Wicks took the opportunity to set the record straight. “I’m Kelly Wicks and I pay my taxes,” he said.  Several years ago, he missed the deadline for a property tax payment, but paid it as soon as he realized the error, Wicks said. He questioned why his opponent and the state Republican party were spending so much on untruths. “Why is she willing to go so ugly, so early?” Wicks said. “What are you hiding?” Gavarone said she did not review the ads against her opponent. “They were produced out of Columbus and mailed out of Columbus.” She also stated her top priorities would be the economy and education. “It’s important to keep Wood County working,” Gavarone said, suggesting the need to reduce taxes and regulations on businesses. Schools need to be funded adequately and the concerns of educators need to be heard, she said. The second question for the House candidates was about charter schools and the need to make them accountable financially and in terms of student progress. Gavarone said recent legislation is making charter schools more accountable, but added “we need to stay vigilant.” Wicks voiced a much different opinion. “I’m against charter schools,” he said. “They have done damage” by draining dollars from the public school system, he said, adding that charter schools are not held to the same standards as public ones. The state’s policies on charter schools are “failing our children and our communities,” Wicks said. In her summation, Gavarone talked about her business, law and city council experience. “I have a track record of working in a bipartisan manner,” she said. Wicks also talked of his years in business and as a community leader, and said he was someone who would “fight for real and meaningful change” for Wood County. Listed below are the other candidates who appeared Sunday evening. A wide variety of topics were covered, from deputy body cameras to water quality. Wood County Sheriff The forum’s other contentious moments came during the time allotted to sheriff candidates Democrat Ruth Babel-Smith and incumbent Republican Mark Wasylyshyn. Babel-Smith said her mantra is “public safety, not politics.” “The citizens of Wood County don’t feel safe under the current sheriff,” she said. Babel-Smith…

Candidate forum planned for tonight

The League of Women Voters of Bowling Green and Perryburg Area are hosting the Candidates Forum on Sunday, Oct. 9, at the First United Methodist Church, 1526 E. Wooster St., Bowling Green. The event is from 7-9 p.m. with doors open to the public at 6:30 p.m. Candidates in contested races for U.S., state and county offices will be present to answer questions.

Wicks calls on Gavarone to denounce Trump

Submitted by the Kelly Wicks Campaign BOWLING GREEN, OH – Kelly Wicks, Democratic State House Candidate for District Three, is calling on his Republican opponent to denounce the remarks as well as the candidacy of Republican standard-bearer Donald Trump. Wicks said, “On a day when the nation was reeling from the disclosure of the crude and degrading comments Republican standard-bearer Donald Trump made about women, my opponent, Theresa Gavarone, was introducing the ticket in Rossford. This is an appalling affront to women that has no place in America. I call on my opponent to denounce in the strongest possible terms not only these unconscionable remarks, but the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump.” Kelly Wicks is a small businessman who owns and has run Grounds for Thought, a coffee shop and bookstore in downtown Bowling Green, for 27 years. He is the former President of the Bowling Green Downtown Business Association. Kelly Wicks is a family man, married to Laura Wicks and has two children, Declan and Rowan who attend BGSU.

Garbage rules education over, enforcement begins

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   School is out on the new garbage bin rules in Bowling Green. Now it’s time for the test. After adopting new regulations for trash bins in August, City Council decided the focus should first be on educating residents rather than citing them for violations. So for the past month, city workers have been posting bright green stickers on trash or recycling bins that are not being used or stored properly. The stickers have boxes that can be checked to explain the violation. “Hopefully, this education process is working,” Public Works Director Brian Craft said to City Council Monday evening. Now that the education process has been given a month to sink in, the next step is issuing warnings for violations. If the violations continue, fines will be issued. It appears that the education effort on recyclables has been effective, since the amount of garbage in recycling bins has dropped from 35 to 20 percent in the areas on the east side of Main Street since the process started. Following is an explanation of the garbage bin regulations: On non-collection days all refuse containers, including dumpsters, whether city or privately owned, shall be stored within an enclosed area, or in the side or rear yard as defined by the city zoning code of the premises adjacent to the structure with the lid closed. Containers should be placed curbside no sooner than 5 p.m. the evening before collection and no later than 7 a.m. the day of collection. All containers must be removed from the city right of way by 7 a.m. the day following collection. Do not fill above the top of the container. Keep lid closed. Do not place trash in the recycling container. Do not bag your recycling. Place it in the container loose. Do not place brush or yard waste in either container. Do not place refuse beside the containers. It will not be collected. Failure to comply may result in a citation or loss of city refuse collection. First violation within any 12- month period: Written warning affixed or mailed to the premises. Second violation within any 12-month period: A civil citation to the occupants and a fine of $25. Third violation within any 12-month period: A civil citation to the occupants and fine of $50. Fourth and subsequent violation within any 12-month period: A civil citation to the occupants, and a fine of $100 for each violation. The purpose of requiring container lids to be closed at all times is to help prevent the lids from breaking during the collection process.  If the lid is open or the container is facing the wrong way at the curb, the lid can break.  Also, if the lid is open during non-collection days or at the curb, the chances increase that the garbage within the container will fall out and become loose litter. Anyone with further questions should call Public Works at 419-354-6227 or the Mayor/Municipal Administrator’s Office at 419-354-6204. Also at Monday’s meeting, City Council heard from Jim Stainbrook about the upcoming Wood County Committee on Aging levy on the November ballot. The 0.7-mill renewal levy, that lasts five years, will help pay for senior services throughout the county. Those services include providing about 850 meals a day, transportation to…

Congressman Tim Ryan to speak on behalf of Kelly Wicks

Submitted by the Kelly Wicks Campaign BOWLING GREEN, OH – BGSU alumnus, U.S. Congressman Tim Ryan will be in Bowling Green Saturday to tell supporters why Kelly Wicks, Democratic State House candidate for District Three, is the clear choice to serve in the Ohio House of Representatives. The visit coincides with Wicks’ 50th birthday. The event will take place at 2:00 p.m., Saturday, October 8, 1225 Brownwood Drive, Bowling Green. “I am honored to have Congressman Ryan’s support as well as his good birthday wishes,” said Wicks. “Congressman Ryan knows the policies decided in the state legislature have a direct impact on all Ohioans. Congressman Ryan knows how important this state house race is and I am happy to have him join us.” Kelly Wicks is a small business owner who owns and has run Grounds for Thought, a coffee shop and bookstore in downtown Bowling Green, for 27 years. He is former President of the Bowling Green Downtown Business Association. Kelly and Laura Wicks have two children, Declan and Rowan. Kelly has lived in Bowling Green all of his life. The visit will be a homecoming for Ryan, who is a Bowling Green State University graduate. Ryan was widely reported to have been on Secretary’s Clinton’s short list for vice president and could now be expected to serve in the Cabinet of a possible Clinton Administration. Tim Ryan is a relentless advocate for working families in Ohio’s 13th District. He was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2002 and was sworn in on January 3, 2003. Successfully reelected six times, he is now serving in his seventh term. Congressman Ryan currently serves as a member of the prominent House Appropriations Committee which controls the expenditure of money by the federal government. Ryan is also a member of the House Budget Committee which has oversight over the federal budget process.

Efforts to simplify building heights rule get complicated

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Efforts to simplify the city’s building height limits became quite complicated Wednesday evening. With a split vote, Bowling Green Planning Commission took action to simplify the city’s building height requirements. The change maintains the maximum height limitations in all zoning categories – but eliminates the maximum story limitations. The change is intended to alleviate some confusion caused by the city’s current zoning rules which pose limits on the number of stories and the height of buildings, explained Bowling Green Planning Director Heather Sayler. But the effort was met by opposition from some residents who felt more protected by the dual rule. The planning commission also faced criticism from a city resident who found information on the proposed zoning change inaccessible to the public. Jeanne Langendorfer said she was interested in the ordinance change, so tried to find information about it on the city’s website. Langendorfer said the website did not show the proposed amendment and did not list the members of the planning commission. She was able to locate meeting minutes from the commission – however, the most recent minutes posted were from 2014. “I would hope that could be addressed,” she said. “It’s not very helpful as a citizen to see something of interest, but not be able to get any information about it.” The building heights issue came up earlier this year when a Hilton hotel was proposed at the site of the former Victory Inn at 1630 E. Wooster St. The proposed hotel was 65 feet tall, which is five feet taller than allowed, and five stories high, which is one story higher than allowed in B-2 general commercial zoning. The proposed change in the zoning language would allow a hotel to have five floors, as long as the height of the building did not exceed 60 feet. The modified zoning language could prevent such confusion in the future, Sayler said. Sayler stressed that the change would maintain the current building heights and be easier to enforce. The cities of Perrysburg and Findlay took similar actions in the last few years because those communities were experiencing the same problems with dual height and floor regulations. A review of the Ohio Chapter of the American Planning Association showed almost all communities regulate building heights, but not number of stories, Sayler said. Bowling Green City Prosecutor Matt Reger said the height requirement would be easier to defend if ever challenged. He added, “there’s no logical reason” to have dual height and story requirements. Mike Rudey, head of Wood County Building Inspection, said the city of Oregon took the same action after finding the dual rules to be complicated. Rudey explained that building height limits will restrict the number of stories since each floor needs at least 10 feet of space. He also pointed out that the building code limits the number of stories based on the construction material being used. Planning Commission member Mark Hollenbaugh noted that parking requirements based on the footprint of a building and the number of stories would also pose limits. But Russ and Jan Veitch, who live on Williams Street on the east side of the city, voiced concerns about the city getting rid of the building stories limit. Jan Veitch reminded the planning commission of…

Small housing subdivision plan approved in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Planning Commission approved plans Wednesday evening for a small housing subdivision east of Peace Lutheran Church. The seven-lot subdivision will sit on the 3.5 acres between Pearl, Martindale and West Wooster streets. The backside of the development borders the homes on Western Avenue. The property, owned by David Maurer, will be called the Reserve at Martindale. The plan is to develop the subdivision in two stages, with the three lots along Pearl Street going first. The owner, represented by Dave Saneholtz of Poggemeyer Design Group, requested several waivers of subdivision rules and regulations. They were: Reduction of the 35-foot front yard setback to 25 feet. City Planning Director Heather Sayler said this was acceptable since many homes in that area have the small setbacks. In lieu of rear or side yard easements, the owner offered easements along the public right-of-way. Sayler said that was satisfactory. Delay of the waterline installation along Martindale Road until the lots along that road are created. Fire Chief Tom Sanderson said that was acceptable. Waiver from improving the existing street to the centerline. Avoidance of putting in sidewalks along the development since many streets in that area lack sidewalks. The sidewalks waiver request was the only one that met with opposition from city officials. “We do not support that,” Sayler said, explaining that bit by bit, the city has been trying to install sidewalks in residential areas. “We’ve been working hard to get sidewalks in wherever we can.” Sidewalks improve the walkability of neighborhoods and are there “for the benefit of the whole community,” Sayler said. The city now requires them with all new residential construction. Planning Commission member Judy Ennis supported sidewalks as a necessary safety feature. “We’re strongly in favor of sidewalks.” Saneholtz pointed out that while sidewalks exist on the south side of Pearl Street, they have not been installed on the north side in that area. And sidewalks are already located on the north side of West Wooster, but not the south side. He added that the owner isn’t sure if all seven lots will be developed, so requiring sidewalks on the first three would not provide a link to other sidewalks. The planning commission denied the sidewalk waiver, but agreed to all the others. Sayler said the subdivision project will come before the city again when construction plans are submitted. Also at the meeting, Sayler reported the city has received 311 zoning requests this year, compared to 312 for the same period last year. Single-family home permits have totaled 25 this year, compared to 23 last year at this time. She reported on other development in the city, including a new building for The Beat dance studio in the Bellard Business Park, an expansion of NovaVision in WoodBridge Industrial Park, and plans for a car wash at the former bowling alley site on South Main Street.        

Failing septic systems in county estimated at 6,000

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As many as 6,000 failing septic systems in Wood County are sending sewage into public waterways. That estimate is based on the fact that there are approximately 12,000 septic systems operating in the county, with the average life expectancy of the systems at 30 years, according to Wood County Health Commissioner Ben Batey and Environmental Division Director Lana Glore. Because aging and failing septic systems are a problem statewide, the Ohio Department of Health has suggested that local health departments examine every system. “They want all septic systems to be looked at,” Glore told the Wood County Commissioners Tuesday during a meeting on septic systems in the county. Though admirable, the plan is quite “grandiose,” Batey said, explaining that the Wood County Health Division can’t meet that goal unless they go on a hiring spree. “The state’s expectation that we check every system in the next five years – that’s just not feasible,” he said. The Wood County Health Division already has a septic system operation and maintenance plan, but it is on a much smaller level, Glore said. Inspections of systems are complaint-driven or prompted by real estate sales. The health division works with the county building inspection office on preventing problems by determining the best locations for septic systems and making sure space is left for replacement systems. The health division also partners with the county engineer’s office to help map out systems using GIS. “We’re working toward better use of technology,” Batey said. The health division also works with landowners to find the most reasonable solutions. “Our idea is always to work with the owners and give them the best options,” Glore said. “Our first goal is always working with homeowners and property owners.” While sanitary sewers are being extended to more rural areas of the county, there are still many areas years away from that option. Health district officials realize there are many older septic systems that were installed without permits and have never been inspected. “A lot of the older systems went into field tiles,” Glore said. If those older failing systems are inspected, and it can’t be proven that the sewage is going into a leachfield or a secondary system, then they have to be replaced. Septic system replacements can be quite costly, especially if bedrock is encountered. “The septic system is almost worth more than the house then,” Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said. But both Batey and Glore assured the commissioners that the health district works to help homeowners with the costs. For example, the district has staff who can design the systems, which can be a big cost savings to residents. The health district also uses grant funding to help homeowners with the costs. “We’re optimistic we should be able to expand that program,” Batey said. However, he cautioned that grant funding can’t handle all the expenses. “The need is always going to be more than the funding.” But he said as long as homeowners are making an effort, the health district will work with them. “We have always strived to help residents,” Batey said. “It’s not our job to penalize them. If you’re working with us, we’re more than willing to give extensions.”      

BG residents and bicyclists clash over plans

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   There was a head-on collision Monday evening between city residents who want to safely bicycle in town, and city residents who want to hang on to their front yards and street parking. John Zanfardino, of City Council’s Transportation and Safety Committee, set the scene by explaining the long-awaited goal of creating bike routes in the city. “Everywhere I visit has bike lanes,” he said. “It seems to me a progressive concept we should consider.” The consultants working with Bowling Green on a community action plan asked about bike lanes during their initial visit to the city, according to council member Daniel Gordon. “The very first thing they noticed when they came to Bowling Green was a lack of bike lanes,” he said. “This is a national movement,” said council member Sandy Rowland. But plans to modify the first two streets for bikes met roadblocks Monday evening from neighbors who felt their concerns were being ignored. When City Engineer Jason Sisco presented the plan to widen sidewalks on the east side of Fairview to accommodate bikes, the neighbors asked why the bike lane wasn’t being placed on the west side along the golf course owned by the city. “Yeah,” several in the audience said loudly. Sisco said city officials had been worried about putting bicyclists too close to stray golf balls, but he added “there’s nothing that says it couldn’t be on the west side.” When given a chance to take the podium, several Fairview Avenue residents defended their front yards, and several Conneaut Avenue residents stood up for their street parking. “If you put a path in my yard on Fairview, you will be able to knock on my side door,” Faith Olson said. “That’s not fair to me as a long-time resident of Bowling Green.” Olson said she understood the frustration of bicyclists waiting from some accommodations in the city. “I understand you’re tired of talking, but you need to consider people on those streets.” One of those people is Francine Auchmuty, who lives on the far east block of Conneaut Avenue, where street parking is currently allowed. “We have six multiple units on Conneaut and Grove,” many with driveways that have room for only one or two vehicles. “There’s no way that would be fair to take away our parking,” she said. Another resident said she sees very few bicyclists on Fairview – but a bicyclist in the audience offered that could be because cyclists don’t feel safe on the street. The council members of the transportation committee said they knew the needs of bicyclists and homeowners might be at odds. “We knew every street we brought up would be a problem for someone,” Zanfardino said. But bike paths attract new residents, provide health benefits and reduce environmental pollution, he said. “It’s a way to attract new and young folks,” Zanfardino said. But Olson objected, saying her rights as an older resident shouldn’t be ignored. Bicyclist Penny Evans-Meyer said Bowling Green is behind other communities in making travel safe for cyclists. “We might be as many as three decades late with bike paths,” Evans-Meyer said. “It’s time we put aside some of our worries and say it’s the thing to do.” The city adopted a long range plan in 2007,…

Council doesn’t want to be kept in dark on solar project

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green officials don’t want to darken the bright future of massive solar field being built on city property, but Council members demanded answers Monday evening to some troubling questions on the project. Concerns have been raised about the percentage of Ohio workers used on the site and the fact that they are not being paid prevailing wages. Council President Mike Aspacher said he received an email from an AMP official in early September saying that prevailing wages would be paid to workers on the project. However, since then it has been reported that is not the case. “There’s some conflicting information,” Aspacher said. Council member Bruce Jeffers also expressed his frustration. “I assumed throughout this project that people would be paid prevailing wage.” The issue is complicated by the fact that Bowling Green owns the property for the solar field at the corner of Carter and Newton roads, northeast of the city. But the solar field is an AMP project, which has contracted with NextEra, which has contracted with Blattner Energy. Bowling Green Utilities Director Brian O’Connell said the city is hosting the solar field and buying energy from it, but not directly connected to the construction. “We’re somewhat removed from the construction,” he said. Neither the agreement with AMP nor the tax abatement granted to NextEra require the prevailing wages be paid or that union labor be used. If the project were the city’s, that would be different, O’Connell said. “We do have a prevailing wage requirement.” But in this case, the city has no control over the wages paid on the project. But Aspacher was not satisfied. “The fact of the matter is it’s being built on Bowling Green property. So I think it’s a Bowling Green project.” The other issue is the workforce on the project. NextEra was granted a tax abatement by the county commissioners on the project on the condition that 80 percent of the labor used on the site would be from Ohio. O’Connell said NextEra actually bumped up that requirement to 82 percent Ohio labor in its contract with Blattner. And as of the last update, Blattner reported 85 percent Ohio labor on the project. But accusations have been raised that some workers are just setting up temporary residence in Ohio for the length of the solar project. Aspacher asked who is responsible for reviewing those labor stats. O’Connell responded that NextEra is reviewing Blattner’s reports. Those numbers may not be made public till next spring. “It’s conceivable that the project will be complete” before the city can check the stats on workers from Ohio, Aspacher said. Aspacher also expressed frustration over the fact that local contractors are not being used on the project. He mentioned the meeting earlier this year when council approved plans for the solar project and he expressed his hopes to AMP officials that local contractors be considered for the job. “It appears that fell on deaf ears,” he said, mentioning two area contractors with considerable experience handling big solar projects. “They were not even approached.” O’Connell said the drainage tile at the site is being done by a local contractor. He also noted that a job fair was held in Bowling Green. About 60 potential workers attended, and 14…

Debate is over – green space to remain green

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It’s official. “Wooster Green” will remain a green gathering space for Bowling Green citizens for generations to come. After years of debate, City Council voted unanimously Monday evening to preserve the 1.7 acres at the corner of West Wooster and South Church streets as green space. The vote was met with a round of applause from those in the council chambers. The action was welcomed by those who spent months planning out a concept for the community space. “I thought all along it would pass,” Eric Myers, who led the task force to come up with a plan for the property, said after Monday’s council meeting. “Hopefully we can continue the momentum for fundraising.” Mayor Dick Edwards, a supporter of the green space concept, said he plans to convene the Green Space Task Force on Oct. 11 to discuss the next steps. The resolution states the property, formerly the site of the city junior high, is to be developed in consideration of the concept design prepared by the Green Space Task Force. “It’s finally happening tonight,” Council member Sandy Rowland said. “It’s been a great journey. That property has just been waiting” to become a community gathering space. “I’m supporting this with all my soul and my heart,” she said. “I knew I would support this since the junior high was torn down.” Rowland said the new community space will help attract families to live in Bowling Green. “We will have a fabulous public space.” The task force’s plan was originally presented to city council nearly a year ago. But the plan seemed to stall out at that point, and council decided to do further study on the site in case a new city building could share the property with a community green space. Though the study showed it was possible to combine both a new city building and green space on the acreage, public pressure came from citizens who wanted the site to remain undeveloped, except for a few town square features. Edwards also threw his weight toward the preservation of a green space for public use. Though the green space concept got unanimous support Monday evening, it was not without some regrets. Council member Bruce Jeffers said he still believes the property would be a wonderful site for a new city building and would have ample room to share for an outdoor community space. “But I see that my view is in the minority,” Jeffers said. “It is a beautiful space and it will continue to be a beautiful space.” Council member Bob McOmber said he understood public frustration over the slow pace of the process. “That would not be unfair,” he said of the criticism. “It just took a while to sort things out.” And council member Daniel Gordon said Monday’s vote should resolve any questions about the future of the site. “I hope this puts to rest” any community concerns. The task force’s plan calls for a multi-purpose commons space with wide walkways leading to a large gathering space. The space would include street lighting that would match the rest of the downtown lights, benches, shade options of either sails or umbrellas, a defined brick entrance on the northeast and northwest corners, bicycle racks and trees. The plan…

BG rejects moratorium on medical marijuana

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council split 4-3 Monday evening on enacting a temporary moratorium on medical marijuana cultivation, processing and retail dispensary facilities. So despite a request from the city attorney and city planner, the moratorium was scrapped. Council members Daniel Gordon, Bruce Jeffers, Sandy Rowland and John Zanfardino voted against the moratorium, while Mike Aspacher, Bob McOmber and Scott Seeliger voted in favor. After the meeting, City Planner Heather Sayler said her office has received two phone calls from prospective medical marijuana representatives asking where they would be allowed to do business in the city. As it is now, a retail operation could go in commercial zoned areas, a processing operation could go in industrial, and growing could occur in agricultural zoned areas. The state legislature passed the medical marijuana bill earlier this year, making Ohio the 25th state to legalize marijuana use for medicinal purposes. But few community regulations have been established, so several municipalities are enacting temporary moratoriums on medical marijuana cultivation, processing and retail dispensary facilities. “We’ve been watching the state for weeks, waiting for some rules and regulations,” City Attorney Michael Marsh said last month when the issue first came before council. So “rather than have a free-for-all,” Marsh presented legislation asking that council put a hold on medical marijuana sales in the city until the state sets regulations. Marsh added that the city does not have qualified personnel to set regulations for growing, processing or selling pot. But Gordon said he was not willing to add further burden on ill people who could benefit from medical marijuana. On Monday evening, Gordon reaffirmed his opposition to a moratorium. “I continue to feel the legislation is unnecessary and counterproductive,” he said. Council President Mike Aspacher noted last month that Bowling Green applies rules to tattoo businesses, dance establishments and grocery stores. “I think it would be irresponsible,” to not do the same with marijuana, he said. Sayler said her office is waiting for some direction from the state. “It’s new to everyone. We don’t have any guidance yet.” But Gordon said the greater error would be to deny the drug to people in need.  

Clinton vows to stay true to blue collar Americans

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Hillary Clinton made her pitch to the blue collar crowd in Toledo Monday – to people who pay their taxes and expect their elected officials to do the same. Clinton hit hard on the latest news that her opponent Donald Trump has likely not paid federal taxes for nearly two decades. She looked at her supporters gathered in the Amtrak station in downtown Toledo, and told them she understands them. “We believe in honest pay for honest work,” she said, mentioning her dad who printed drapery for a living. “He believed in hard work. He passed that on to me.” Those in the crowd appreciated her steady dedication to family and worker causes. Jennifer Rogers, of Toledo, said she likes how Clinton relies on her experience and her heart. “I think Hillary knows more about the world situation than any president we’ve ever had. I think the Republican party has done a real witch hunt and she’s stood her ground.” Larry Robinson, of Bowling Green, admitted he was not a huge Hillary fan. “I’m against Donald Trump,” he said. “Honestly, I don’t trust him to stick to his word.” So Clinton will likely win with Robinson by default. “When it comes time to vote, I’ll probably pull the lever for Hillary,” he said. Andrew Heller, of Toledo, had no doubts. “I think she’s obviously the only candidate qualified for the job.” He then looked at his two young daughters to explain another reason why he wouldn’t support Trump. “It’s despicable how he talks about women.” One speaker suggested it would be fitting for the Glass City to help Clinton shatter the “glass ceiling.” U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, joined in heaping praise onto Clinton. “No matter what gets thrown her way, she keeps chugging along,” Kaptur said. “She gets things done.” One of those things was very meaningful to Toledo, when Clinton voted to save the auto industry. Clinton talked about those tough times, when people were losing their jobs, their homes, their savings. “In 2009, you were in the eye of the storm,” she said to the Toledoans. She used Trump’s words against him, reminding the crowd that he didn’t stand for the auto industry bailout. “He would have let you twist and fall,” she said. “But you never gave up,” she said to the crowd, many of them UAW members. And “America came to the rescue” – not Trump, she added. And now, Chrysler has announced that it will be building the next generation of Jeep Wranglers in Toledo. “I will always stand up and fight for you,” she promised. Like the crowd, Clinton said she wants to focus on “kitchen table” issues. “The ones that keep you up at night,” she said. Like the cost of prescription drugs, the affordability of college, and how to get ahead with hard work. The American Dream, she said, “should be big enough for everybody.” She promised to fight against the powerful protecting only their self interests. She vowed to plug the loopholes that help the rich get richer and allow them to send jobs overseas. “We will rebuild the working class,” she said. Companies should feel responsibility to their workers, customers and their country – not just to their shareholders, Clinton said….