Buyer found for EP building

EAST PALESTINE – A buyer has been found for the building that houses the village administrative offices at 144 N. Market St.

Village Council last week approved accepting the $55,000 offer from Ronnie Fuller, who owns Fuller Hardware, also on North Market.

Council discussed the matter briefly during an executive session and the sale was approved by all present. Councilwoman Ellen Beagle was absent.

While the amount being offered was listed on the emergency ordinance passed by council, the identity of the buyer was not listed. Village Manager Pete Monteleone said he did not wish to release the buyer’s identity until speaking with them after the meeting.

Monteleone released the information Thursday and said the sale’s closing will likely be the second week of September, with village administrative offices moved into the former PNC building sometime in October.

The village decided to sell the current building after seeing an opportunity to buy the PNC building on the other side of North Market Street. The bank no longer had use for the building after the main branch decided to move all local accounts to Columbiana earlier this year.

Monteleone and council members have said the building where they are currently located is too small and the PNC building is more suitable.

Monteleone said specifically the new building will allow for village council to hold meetings there as opposed to at the park where they have been the last several years.

Council also approved emergency legislation regarding the PNC building acquisition loan and West Street Bridge loan. Both pieces of legislation were given third readings before being declared emergencies.

The PNC building is being offered for $155,000 and the sale of the current building will pay a portion of that cost, according to Monteleone and Finance Director Traci Thompson.

In other business, council also approved supplemental appropriations and gave a second reading to legislation regarding the Ohio Department of Transportation’s maintenance of state highways.

During the meeting Councilman Don Elzer questioned the benefits of Unity Township residents being able to tap-in to the village’s sewer supply without being required to annex.

The township is wrapping up a sewer line extension project approved by Columbiana County Commissioners. The project was initiated following an Environmental Protection Order that eight properties along North Market Street in Unity Township replace their malfunctioning septic systems.

Instead of replacing those systems – which would have been costly for the residents – township trustees opted to seek funding to extend the service from East Palestine.

The township is paying $10,000 of the cost and the commissioner’s share of federal Community Development Block Grant Funding is covering the remainder.

“If we are going to keep giving away our sewer, do we have an option to say no?” Elzer asked.

Those residents are required to pay the $750 tap-in fee and will pay for the service; however, their tax revenue remains in the township.

Councilman Fran Figley told Elzer he believed that as long as federal funding is involved the village cannot prohibit anyone from tapping into the line.

Mayor Margo Zuch recalled that at one point the village didn’t allow for more tap-ins until the sewage plant could handle the capacity.

Elzer mentioned he was concerned additional users would max out the plant’s capacity, should more lines be extended in the future.

“What it looks like is there is going to be sewer to state Route 14, 14 will boom and we aren’t going to have any advantage of that,” he said.

Councilman Alan Cohen said township residents no longer have a reason to annex into the village, and called the project a “good move” on their part.

“They lose every time we annex but they fixed it so we can’t,” Elzer said.