SALINEVILLE - Village Council made the decision not to pursue reacquiring land that might have been improperly vacated during its Monday meeting.
Village Council President Rick Beadle said, "It's in the best interest of the village not to pursue it. This is land that isn't worth it and we don't want it. It's in another county."
Several council members noted that the costs associated with reobtaining the land and preparing it for sale would be greater than the actual land value.
Mayor Mary Smith told the council that legally it is not able to simply vacate land and noted it was an issue of non-compliance raised in the recent Ohio Auditor's report.
"Everything mentioned in this audit needs to be fixed," Smith said.
Councilman Tom Hays said that when council members decided to vacate the land it was following the advice of former village solicitor Peter Horvath.
"Our solicitor at the time told us we could do it," Beadle said. "I'm not denying that it wasn't done correctly, but we followed the legal advice at the time."
Hays said vacating the land was not a violation, but rather the state auditor's office didn't have enough information, and that it should have been done differently, but it wasn't a violation.
Ohio Revised Code Section 721.03 regarding the sale of land states, "No contract ... for the sale or lease of real estate belonging to a municipal corporation shall be made unless authorized by an ordinance, approved by a two-thirds vote of the members of the legislative authority of such municipal corporation ... only with the highest bidder, after advertisement once a week for five consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation."
Hays said that although he wasn't on the council at the time, the land was given to the village to use for streets.
The property in question is located on U.S. Route 30 in Carroll County and is in the possession of Darl Ferguson.
Also during the meeting, council members heard from village resident Barb Barton, who said she had previously approached council regarding the installation of no parking signs on the south side of East Main from the western corner of Commerce Street and extending west for 154 feet.
Hays questioned why the measure was needed and said that entire street was already a no-parking zone.
Councilman Craig Roberts said the ordinance declaring it a no-parking zone could not be found, and that's why the measure needed to be passed.
Hays questioned whether his abstention from the measure, which was on the floor as an emergency measure, would mean that it wouldn't be passed. This led to an exchange between Hays and Barton, during which Barton said, "If my grandchildren get hit, I'm coming after you," and Hays replied "I don't like your attitude."
Hays further questioned whether people should be allowed to comment from the audience, and Village Solicitor Andy Beach said other councils have a specific time for public comments.
Council ultimately passed the measure to install the signs on the street, although Hays noted he didn't like being threatened.
Also during the meeting:
- Council created a voluntary clerk position for the Board of Public Affairs.
- Council entered into an agreement with Morton Salt, Inc. for the purchase of 50 tons of salt at $51.49 per ton.
- Hays mentioned he is seeking bids for the repair of the back deck connected to village hall and the police department.
- Smith thanked the Assembly of God for its fundraiser. "It was very much appreciated," she said.
- It was announced that a budgetary council meeting will be held 6 p.m. Wednesday at the village hall.
- It was announced that a Safety Committee meeting will be held 6 p.m. Monday at the village hall.
- Smith read the police chief's report, which said the village's police force responded to 75 calls, made 12 arrests and issued 19 traffic citations.
- Councilman Zeb Locklear was not present. Smith motioned to excuse him from the meeting, but said she had not heard from him. Smith's motion died from the lack of a second.