Spenser Hickey is the DelawareO's reporter for the City Hall beat. Providing bi-weekly summaries of Delaware City Council meetings, he seeks to inform and explore the local issues that define Delaware. A sophomore Journalism major at Ohio Wesleyan University, he also seeks to inform and explore ways to avoid student debt.

About Spenser Hickey

Spenser Hickey is the DelawareO's reporter for the City Hall beat and a photographer. Providing bi-weekly summaries of Delaware City Council meetings, he seeks to inform and explore the local issues that define Delaware. A senior Journalism major at Ohio Wesleyan, he has also written for the Dayton Daily News, Springfield News-Sun and The Transcript, OWU's independent student newspaper.

Council approves step to expanded Delaware Place


 

OWU Associate Chaplain Lisa Ho provides the invocation at this week's council meeting.

OWU Associate Chaplain Lisa Ho provides the invocation at this week’s council meeting.

Delaware’s city council gave unanimous rezoning and plan approval to the second and third phases of Delaware Place, which will provide affordable housing to elderly residents.

Their phase one has been successful, said Planning and Community Development Director David Efland. Phase one involved a four-story building and surrounding duplexes, with 63 units total.

Phases two and three will introduce 44 units in a three-story building, and a two-story building with a mix of 11 units and commercial space.

“These are personally exciting to me, being that I worked on Delaware Place for quite some time, as has Joe DiGenova and many of the rest of you, hopefully this is as exciting to you,” Efland said in introducing the project.

“I’ve done a good amount of research here, it’s a great opportunity to provide some much needed affordable senior housing in the community,” said applicant Denise Blake, Midwest regional developer with the Miller-Valentine Group.

Developer Denise Blake describes her plan for Delaware Place.

Developer Denise Blake describes her plan for Delaware Place.

Mayor Carolyn Kay Riggle said she’d toured the site with Councilman Joe DiGenova and State Rep. Andrew Brenner (R-Powell) and that the new areas were almost full even though construction hasn’t begun.

 


 

To start phases two and three, the planners will have to receive approval from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency. Blake said their application deadline is February 20, and they’ll receive a response by June 17 at the latest.

She expects a groundbreaking in the first quarter of 2016, once the weather is good enough.

Council also approved rezoning for Shear Style Barber Shop and Union Electric, and a final development plan for Engineering Materials Systems.

In Council comments, Second Ward Councilman Lisa Keller discussed increasing community outreach through social media, which Mayor Riggle supported.

Efland and City Manager Tom Homan also discussed physical branding efforts for the city, including new signs and business cards, which were planned with the help of Community Affairs Coordinator Lee Yoakum.

In closing, Mayor Riggle reminded the audience that February is Black History Month, and that there will be a Valentine’s Day marriage/renewal of vows ceremony.

 

Council hears concern for homeless in meeting

 

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Mayor Riggle, Finance Director Stelzer, Auditor Yost and Manager Homan stand together after the award is given.

In a special ceremony during the city council meeting, state auditor Dave Yost honored the financial management of Delaware. Yost presented a state certificate for excellent financial reporting to Finance Director Dean Stelzer, who accepted the award on behalf of his staff. Stelzer was joined by Mayor Carolyn Kay Riggle and City Manager Tom Homan, and Yost noted that Delaware was part of the five percent of cities that receive this award.

During the section for public comment, resident Amanda Henning spoke to the Council about the urgent need to help Delaware’s homeless community find shelter from the coming winter cold. Henning works at the Delaware County District Library, and said she knows 15-20 local residents who stay in the library most if not all day to have shelter, but after they close must sleep outdoors.

“I think, if we’re honest with ourselves, any one of us is a lost job, a lost relationship, a few bad decisions away from being in a similar situation,” Henning said.

Amanda Henning addresses council on the need to provide shelter for the homeless in Delaware.

Amanda Henning addresses council on the need to provide shelter for the homeless in Delaware.

Vice Mayor George Hellinger responded on the importance of the issue – one of life and death, he called it – and said that while most city finances go to “needs and wants,” few of them have this kind of impact on residents.

He’d already spoken with Manager Homan about a city response; Henning’s comments to the council followed a weekend discussion in a community forum on social media about the cold’s effects on those outdoors.

Councilman Joe DiGenova prepares to give the invocation.

Councilman Joe DiGenova prepares to give the invocation.


 

 

In the invocation, councilman Joe DiGenova also reflected on events from this weekend – specifically the 73rd anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the U.S. into World War Two.

“I don’t think there’s enough emphasized at present in our media and in our education in the school system as far as what that really meant to the American people and the freedoms we have today,” DiGenova said.

The city council also looked at several ordinances concerning land and building developments, including approval – as the proximate city – of a territory acquisition for Jerome Village and a new commercial authority for Berkshire Township. They also approved an amended plan for MI Homes’ development north of Silversmith Lane.

 


 

Council recognizes service from all ages

Lisa Keller recognizes Joe DiGenova for his military service in Vietnam.

Lisa Keller recognizes Joe DiGenova for his military service in Vietnam.

Involvement in local civic participation and service in the national defense were prominent features of this week’s City Council meeting, held the day before Veteran’s Day.

“I just wanted to take a moment, on this Veteran’s Day eve, to honor one of our own,” said Second Ward Councilwoman Lisa Keller.

She was speaking about Third Ward Councilman Joe DiGenova, who served in Vietnam from 1965 to 1968.

“We thank you for your service to our country, and on behalf of City Council and all of America, we thank you for your service,” Keller said.

“If there’s anyone else who’s present in the audience this evening who served our country, we’d like to extend our gratitude on behalf of City Council. Thank you very much.”

During public comment, DiGenova said that they’d received funding from the County toward the Veterans’ Memorial Park, and he hopes it will be completed by this time next year – the 50th anniversary of his tour in Vietnam.

St. Mary Parish Cub Scout Loyal Eagles Patrol Pack #249 leads the Pledge of Allegiance.

St. Mary Parish Cub Scout Loyal Eagles Patrol Pack #249 prepares to lead the Pledge of Allegiance.

While it’s been customary for a local faith leader to offer the invocation, this week’s meeting also saw special leaders for the Pledge of Allegiance – a local Cub Scout Pack from St. Mary’s Parish, led by Pack Leader Rob Gabel.

The Cub Scouts weren’t the only young leaders at the meeting – Council also recognized their high school counterparts in the Youth in Government program. Earlier in November, the eight students joined Mayor Carolyn Kay Riggle, Fourth Ward Councilman Andrew Brush, City Manager Tom Homan and Assistant City Manager Jackie Walker in the Saturday morning event carried out with the Delaware YMCA.

The Youth in Government is usually focused on involving students in state politics, but in this new program they learned about city issues.

Local YMCA Youth in Government participants are recognized.

Local YMCA Youth in Government participants are recognized.

In general business, the city approved consideration of Speedway LLC’s request for a liquor permit at their future location on U.S. 23 North. Although local residents John and Susan McGrail raised some questions and concerns about the process, City Attorney Darren Shulman advised Council that there’d be no legal reason for an objection to the permit request.

Susan McGrail requests to speak during the liquor permit consideration.

Susan McGrail requests to speak during the liquor permit consideration.

Council also recognized and approved expansions for local acts of service – they granted conditional use permits to expand the Delaware Health Care Center and the Salvation Army’s site at 340 Lake Street. The Salvation Army hopes to build to offer short-term housing on their property, currently to between 20-24 people through double-occupancy rooms.

The city also considered an ordinance to renew their contract with the Delaware YMCA for another three years, although they held it over to a second reading.

No Shave November: Fourth Ward Councilman Andrew Brush offers advice ("Use conditioner") to Police Chief Bruce Pijanowski, who's growing a beard to raise funds for the United Way.

No Shave November: Fourth Ward Councilman Andrew Brush offers advice (“Use conditioner”) to Police Chief Bruce Pijanowski, who’s growing a beard to raise funds for the United Way.

DC professor predicts GOP victory in OWU lecture

George Washington University professor John Sides names battleground states of the 2014 midterm election.

George Washington University professor John Sides names battleground states of the 2014 midterm election.

Ohio Wesleyan has a strong politics and government department, but they added to it with a pre-election analysis from George Washington Univ. professor and Washington Post contributor John Sides.

Like the discussion with columnist Connie Schultz, Sides’ presentation was open to the public and had a strong following from Delaware residents. Sides, like many analysts, expects the Republican Party will win the Senate majority by a narrow margin; he explained why and what impact that could have.

Sides’ cooperative forecast for the Washington Post, based on scientific analysis of polling data, gives the Republican Party 52 seats and Democrats 48, with a 67 percent probability. It involved historical data on midterm declines for the President’s party, the President’s popularity, the party base of seats in question and the candidates selected.

Sides takes questions from the audience while OWU assistant professor Jenny Holland  moderates.

Sides takes questions from the audience while OWU assistant professor Jenny Holland moderates.

After a lengthy explanation, Sides took numerous questions from the audience, starting with OWU politics professor Jenny Holland on how public dissatisfaction with the government would affect voter turnout. Sides responded that turnout is hard to predict, but dissatisfaction may be counteracted by competitive races, which Americans tend to enjoy.

Sean Kay, director of OWU’s Arneson Institute for Practical Politics, raised the question of several races expected to go Republican but are very close currently. Sides acknowledged this but said the Republicans will still likely win, but only narrowly.

Arneson Institute Director Sean Kay listens to Sides' response.

Arneson Institute Director Sean Kay listens to Sides’ response.

History professor Michael Flamm raised a question about the influence of outside money in political races as a result of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and others; Sides said that it’s hard to tell what role this plays when a candidate wins or loses.

In the 2012 presidential election, the Obama campaign raised $1.1 billion, including $300 million from outside left-wing groups. Romney’s campaign raised $1.2 billion, around half of which was outside money as Sides put it.

“Outside money helped Romney keep pace, because he himself was not raising as much as Obama himself was raising,” Sides said.

On foreign policy, Sides predicted that President Obama would take more unilateral action should the GOP win the Senate.

“Then the question is, what’s he going to do?” Sides said. “And that’s where I don’t know the answer. I think the Middle East peace process is once again non-existent, you’re going to have this limited war in Syria and Iraq that he’s already announced.”

When asked about the effects of gridlock on the 2016 election, Sides pointed out that the leading predictions put the Republicans short of the 60 votes needed for a supermajority, which affects many areas except federal appointments and the budget.

Congress and the White House may compromise, he said, or the President could be sent laws that he would certainly veto on political grounds, causing more gridlock.

“That’s the same old political game, nothing’s happening,” said Sides.

Since the 2010 midterms, the House has largely acted in opposition to the Democratic agenda, he pointed out, but they may pursue passing policy when they have more power.

Pulitzer-winner talks politics at Ohio Wesleyan

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OWU Journalism Department Chair Paul Kostyu, with Schultz.

OWU Journalism Department Chair Paul Kostyu, with Schultz.

With the midterm elections just days away, Ohio Wesleyan University hosted Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Connie Schultz for a discussion on current issues and the election with students and local residents.

She was introduced by OWU’s journalism department chair Paul Kostyu, who described Schultz as someone who is “infinitely attached to the political landscape (in Ohio) and knows it well.”

In Schultz’s 2005 award citation, the Pulitzer Prize Board calls her work “pungent columns that provided a voice for the underdog and underprivileged.” She writes a nationally syndicated column, previously wrote a column for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and is married to Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH).

Schultz discussed her views on several partisan issues while taking questions from the audience, which included a large number of female students and residents. The importance of women’s involvement in politics and the press was something she stressed repeatedly.

“I am a feminist, I don’t see how I could not be,” she said, crediting the women’s movement with allowing her to work as a national columnist. “…I get to write about politics and get to be one of the only women often on the op-ed page because of the feminist movement. I am a feminist out of gratitude, if nothing else.”

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She said that both the Democratic and Republican parties need to cultivate more young people, including women, as active members so they could remain competitive.

“You need multiple parties, you need multiple voices and multiple viewpoints to reach consensus on things and also to gain the public trust,” Schultz said.

“…When you’re talking about politics, you’re supposed to represent all of us in all our varied views and (officials) are supposed to represent the best in all of us.”

She also discussed likely candidates for the 2016 presidential nomination, including Ohio’s Governor John Kasich. She also thinks he may be challenged by Republicans including Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

On the Democratic side, she expects former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will run but named New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland, and potentially Vermont’s Senator Bernie Sanders as candidates who may run if Clinton does not.

“You’ve got two open fields, this is going to be quite a season,” Schultz said.

She said definitively that Sherrod Brown would not be running for the Democratic nomination, and described how challenging the position of President must be.

“There’s a reason they go gray so quickly, we have no idea,” she said. “Every day, they are told about threats to Americans around the globe. That’s how they start their day.”

Schultz takes questions from the audience.

Schultz takes questions from the audience.

Local resident Marianne Gabel said Schultz’s program was the kind of discussion politicians should have with voters but often don’t.

“I thought she nailed the issues pretty well,” Gabel said, adding that the program went well.

“You’ve got a real breadth of the community out here, all ages, students,” she said. For Gabel, a lawyer, the message about women in politics was particularly important.

“I think women in politics can have more of that compassion, more of that understanding of life experiences of people who aren’t at the top and empowered.”

Ohio Wesleyan student Lauren Rump, a Cleveland native, has followed Schultz’s writing since it appeared in the Plain Dealer and was very excited to see her in person.

“I really like that she was saying that there needs to be women on both sides involved in politics, like Democrat women and Republican women, and independent women and Green Party women,” Rump said. “We’re only more informed if women are involved on all sides and everyone’s opinion is valued.”

Schultz meets with members of the OWU Advancement Office, including Pablo Villa (far right), a former member of Sherrod Brown's campaign.

Schultz meets with members of the OWU Advancement Office, including Pablo Villa (far right), a former member of Sherrod Brown’s campaign.

Delaware City Council Notes: JEDD contract with Berkshire, Roops Brothers Bar Ownership

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The first half of city council’s October 27 meeting was swift, as they cleared through most items as fast as possible due to the lack of power. The second half was largely focused on discussion of Ordinance 14-102, which was passed and authorizes City Manager Tom Homan to enter a Joint Economic Development District (JEDD) with Berkshire Township to create a Tanger-Simon outlet mall.

City council carries on business despite the darkness.

City council carries on business despite the darkness.

The vote was largely in favor – with the exception of At-Large Councilman Kent Shafer, who was excused, and Third Ward Councilman Joe DiGenova, who voted against taking action on the second reading without Shafer being present.

Related: “Delaware City Council nears JEDD deal with Berkshire on mall

City Attorney Darren Shulman explains the details of the JEDD contract.

City Attorney Darren Shulman explains the details of the JEDD contract.

The city will receive a four percent administrative fee that the city will receive first from income tax revenue, to offset the cost of administering taxes in the JEDD. There will also be a JEDD board, which will receive one percent. Berkshire Township will get 60 percent of the rest and Delaware city, 40 percent.

The JEDD board will govern the area and will have three members – one appointed by the city, one by the township, and one by both together. When businesses fill the JEDD they will get a fourth member and workers will receive a fifth to represent them.

Assistant City Manager Jackie Walker (right) reads information by lamplight.

Assistant City Manager Jackie Walker (right) reads information by lamplight.

During the discussion among city officials, power was restored to the building and downtown Delaware; no one from the community came forward during the public hearing preceding the vote.

Council members hold the second half of their meeting in the light.

Council members hold the second half of their meeting in the light.

In other areas covered before the JEDD discussion, the city council was introduced to five new city employees who’ve recently begun working with the Economic Development and Public Works departments. The council also approved the transfer of the Roop Brothers Bar’s liquor license from an LLC owned by Al Roop to one owned by Joshua Moore and Mika Sparks.

“I’d like to thank you for everything you’ve considered for me and my brother at Roops,” Al told the council.

“…I think the city and myself needed some new guys (who are) 20 years younger to carry on the legacy of Roops in an up-to-date form and these are the guys. I thank you all.”

delawareo.com

Small fire causes OWU building evacuation

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Dozens of Ohio Wesleyan students received unexpected time out of class after an apparent fire within a piece of laboratory equipment set off smoke alarms in the Schimmel-Conrades Science Center.

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Chief John Donahue of DFD meets with OWU PS Director Bob Wood, right, and Inspector Richard Morman.

The Delaware Fire Department responded with two engines and other vehicles but no ambulances; Chief John Donahue personally visited the scene. The Delaware Police Department was not on site, but Ohio Wesleyan Public Safety officers including Director Bob Wood were present.

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Firefighters exit the Schimmel-Conrades Science Center

Several firefighters entered the building wearing fire-resistant coats but did not appear to be using face masks or their oxygen tanks, while others entered without coats. Other individuals who appeared to be assisting the firefighters did not wear protective gear as well.

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Firefighters opened the scientific oven, then closed it when smoke came out.

The firefighters received applause from the students when they wheeled out a scientific oven, the source of the fire. It was then looked at OWU professors, Public Safety officers and Inspector Mark Huston of DFD.

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The fire occurred around 2:00 p.m., and re-entry began before 3:00 p.m., though the doors were left open to clear out the building.

Delaware City Council nears JEDD deal with Berkshire on mall and other Council news

Kevin Jennings, director of development for Tanger Outlets, speaks to the City Council.

Kevin Jennings, director of development for Tanger Outlets, speaks to the City Council.

City of Delaware, Berkshire Township and Tanger / Simon Work On Economic Of Building.

The city of Delaware neared final approval of months-long discussions to establish, with Berkshire Township, a Joint Economic Development District (JEDD) as part of the creation of a Tanger/Simon outlet mall off Rt. 36/37 and by I-71.

Sunbury Village, which originally requested Delaware join the JEDD with them, backed out of the negotiations with little explanation provided to Delaware or Berkshire officials.

Related: “Council Approves Liberty Casting Expansion, JEDD Negotiation and More.”

Kevin Jennings, Director of Development for Tanger Outlets, came to the Council meeting from North Carolina, where the company’s central office is located.

He said that if progress is made soon, the groundbreaking could be in the spring of next year, with a construction period of 12-13 months. They project the outlet to provide $131 million in annual sales, and have over 70 percent of the interior space filled with committed vendor companies already.

Fourth Ward councilman Andrew Brush said he’d been told the outlet would create 525 local jobs and $100,000 to $128,000 in revenue for the city.

Creating the mall will require significant traffic improvements – Jennings said they’d conducted a traffic study that put the cost at around $33 million, but are prepared to provide $16 million.

Second Ward councilwoman Lisa Keller noted that there’s already traffic issues, and that it’s not Tanger/Simon’s responsibility to fix them but this could help.

 

Berkshire Trustee Chairman Bill Holtry and Administrator Jeff George were at the meeting as well; Holtry said he hoped this could lead to further development and potentially additional JEDDs.

Public hearings on the mall will be held by both Delaware city and Berkshire Township on Monday, Oct. 27.

Fire Department Chief John Donahue describes the need for three new ambulances.

Fire Department Chief John Donahue describes the need for three new ambulances.

Other topics of discussion included a request from the Delaware Fire Department for three paramedic ambulances, to upgrade and standardize their existing fleet, and supplemental funds to repair damage to the city airport’s maintenance hangar roof; both were approved.

During the section for public comment, resident Traci Cromwell took time to inform Council of the actions of two local police officers, Rita Mendel and Adam Graham.

Mendel – who plans to retire next year – is involved in Safety Town and the Citizen’s Police Academy, as well as regular patrol duty, Cromwell said. Several years ago, Cromwell and Mendel were volunteering together at the Delaware Arts Festival, and she saw Mendel be approached by a number of local teenagers.

Many remembered Mendel from their time at Safety Town, while another reported to Mendel that she had recently been sexually assaulted. Cromwell was struck by this, and Mendel’s work in helping a developmentally disabled resident find guardianship and day care services that allow her to thrive.

Cromwell describes how Officer Graham responded to a dangerous situation.

Cromwell describes how Officer Graham responded to a dangerous situation.

Cromwell also discussed a recent case involving Officer Adam Graham, a third shift officer who responded to a man with a gun by his side. Graham drew his own weapon but did not fire, ordering the man to drop his weapon. He finally did, and after Graham apprehended the suspect it was determined that the gun was a toy and the man was trying to commit suicide by getting Graham to shoot him.

“The city of Delaware, Ohio can be proud at the training and clear headed thinking of our officers,” Cromwell said. “This incident could have ended in the loss of a life.”

Cromwell’s comments come amid ongoing protests within Ohio over the death of John Crawford III, who was killed by police in Beavercreek while holding an unpackaged toy rifle in a Walmart store. A grand jury declined to indict the officers involved.

Linda Mathews of the Parks and Rec. Board receives a proclamation from Mayor Riggle.

Linda Mathews of the Parks and Rec. Board receives a proclamation from Mayor Riggle.

On an entirely positive note, Mayor Carolyn Kay Riggle also took time to honor Linda Mathews with a city proclamation for her service on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board; Dave Berwanger and Chris Fink also received proclamations but could not attend.

 

Multiple Fire Departments Respond To Fire In Downtown Delaware.

 
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Photo by Spenser Hickey

Fire at Amatos shuts down parts of Downtown Delaware.

This morning, firefighters from the Delaware city, Orange Township-Lewis Center and Tri-Township fire departments responded to a report of smoke coming from the roof of Amato’s pizzeria.

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Quadcopters checks the roof for fire hot spots. Photo by Spenser Hickey

Delaware Fire Chief John Donahue said that the fire appeared to have spread from Amato’s smokestack into the restaurant and they were checking inside.

Firefighters who entered the building did so in full protective gear, with oxygen tanks and breathing masks. At one point firefighters had assistance from a quadrotor drone that was used to provide a view of the top of the building.

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Photo By Spenser Hickey

Numerous Delaware police officers were also on scene, helping direct traffic and perform other tasks.

There were four fire engines – two from Delaware Fire Department (DFD) and one each from the other departments, as well as two DFD ambulances, four police cars and several other DFD vehicles.

Developing

Delaware City Council Discusses Meters, Development and State Legislation In Heated Chambers

Delaware City Council Chambers Gets Hot!

This week’s City Council meeting was marked by a contentious, thirty minute discussion between Second Ward Councilwoman Lisa Keller and Public Utilities Director Brad Stanton and Dan Whited, Director of Delaware’s Public Service Group, over automated meter readers the city may purchase.

Brad Stanton, left, and Dan Whited answer Councilwoman Lisa Keller's questions.

Brad Stanton, left, and Dan Whited answer Councilwoman Lisa Keller’s questions.

City officials had vetted meter readers from Datamatic for a year, and the purchase of additional automated meter readers from a currently undetermined company would cost the city $1.5 million.

Keller found that Datamatic is now bankrupt, due in part to numerous lawsuits over hardware malfunctions and failed readers, and she questioned why this was never brought up by the vetting committee. According to the Public Utilities Director in Highland Village, Texas, at least 72 cities had sued Datamatic; Highland Village spent almost $2 million on their original meter readers and the cost to have another company fix them.

Councilwoman Lisa Keller raises questions over the reliability of automated meter readers for water bills.

Councilwoman Lisa Keller raises questions over the reliability of automated meter readers for water bills.

Brad Stanton said that he and his staff are still very confident in the technology as a whole, and that there are other companies and many other cities whose Datamatic systems did work. Keller pointed out problems with another manufacturer and remained dissatisfied.

With the air conditioning out during the nearly two hour meeting, city council worked to speed through many of the other matters at hand.

Representative Andrew Brenner speaks to the Council.

Representative Andrew Brenner speaks to the Council.

They heard a legislative update from state District 67 Representative Andrew Brenner, who described efforts he’s supporting in the state legislature, though he doesn’t expect a lot of activity before the midterms.

Specific issues he mentioned including setting a minimum amount that would have to be spent on individual schools; allowing high school students to have dual enrollment in colleges, and creating a hotel tax that could provide much needed funding for the Delaware County Fair.

They also approved development plans for Terra Alta Section 1, Part 2, east of Pollock Road, west of Berlin Station Road and north of Braumiller Road. A resolution to repeal a currently unenforced ordinance banning firearms in public parks was held over to a third reading.

Depending on the weather and status of the council chamber’s air conditioning, the next meeting may be held at an offsite location.