By Sean Ditch
Lebanon’s Mayor Cheri Wright and Lebanon City Council held their first town council meeting of the month of August on Monday the 14th at 6:30 PM inside city hall. Mayor Wright and City Clerk Luann Holper swore in Andrew Lampe as the city’s newest police officer. Andrew’s family were in attendance as well as Lebanon City Police Chief David Roth.
A concerned citizen, Chris Koening, stated to the council that he was supposed to be on the agenda for the meeting that took place, but was upset to see that he wasn’t. Koening asked about why he was removed from the agenda as well as to share concerns on why the city was stopping him from having access to a particular building in town to help with a food stand that Koening is running or trying to run. He also shared that as of last Monday, he learned there was no ordinance in place to keep him out of the building. He then shared details of a discussion with Mayor Wright that took place later in the week on Thursday [August 10th] to come to the city council meeting next week and get approval as well as a building inspection pass. There was also discussion shared by the concerned citizen about USDA Regulations. To end his concern, Koening said he wanted to have and hear discussion to get approval on the building, one he claimed he was legally paying for and shared again that there was no ordinance in place not permitting him to use it, and he’s been trying to get this done since May.
City Attorney Michael McGinley shared that the council, “doesn’t have to answer any questions” and that this is audience participation.
“If anyone wants to listen to this comment, and decide what they want to do, they certainly can,” continued McGinley.
Koening continued, asking again why he wasn’t on the agenda. McGinley stated “There’s no questions being answered tonight, sir.” He then assured that Mayor Wright said on Thursday it would be on the agenda tonight and it would be voted on and finalized, something a member of the Plans Commission who was also in attendance, shared and confirmed out loud. Mayor Wright confirmed she said that this concerned citizen would be on the agenda; before she could finish her sentence however, the Koening then shared that he was excluded on the agenda. Attorney McGinley intervened “As I’ve said, during public participation the council doesn’t answer questions. We appreciate your comments; we’ll take those into account, and we’ll deal with that issue going forward.” Upon hearing this from McGinley, a second concerned citizen shared then that he had been at many meetings in the past that when the public shared questions and comments with the council, the questions and comments heard were always answered by the council. No comments were shared in return to the second concerned citizen.
Alderperson Dale Trinka asked then what would happen to the gravestones that were affected by the tree falling in town during the storms last week. Mayor Wright shared that Clerk Holper is trying to reach out to families as the gravestones are private property.
Ulanda Branch then thanked the citizens who made comments during the time. Koening then reiterated that he’d been trying to get this matter settled since May, and then asked again if we can get put on the schedule and agenda for tonight. Attorney McGinley said no and reiterated that it wasn’t on the agenda. He then continued with saying since it wasn’t on the agenda, the council is not prepared to answer any questions on the matter. Koening then inquired then, due to error on the city part of him not being on the agenda, does it mean he cannot talk about it, a point that McGinley shared that Koening is in fact talking about it at the present time. After a brief discussion then held between the concerned citizen, Attorney McGinley, and Clerk Holper, that involved expletives being spoken at towards the city clerk, Koening was asked to leave by McGinley and escorted out by Police Chief David Roth.
In the Plan Commission report, it was reported they unanimously approved and requested a request for a Certificate of Appropriateness for a change of color on a dentist office building and trim on St. Louis Street. They also reviewed a request from July for a Certificate of Appropriateness on signage at Momma’s House and to determine if any solution to the noncompliance aspect of the signage on the doors had been reached. Due to the perceived lack of owner’s cooperation by the plan commission, they unanimously recommended denial of the Certificate of Appropriateness. The Council Unanimously agreed with both matters presented by the plan commission.
In the Streets and Alleys Committee report, the following were voted unanimously on by the council: The recommendation for approval of the Motor Fuel Tax and Rebuild Solution as well as the recommendation of approving the Brick Street Merchants request to close St. Louis Street from St. Clair to Route 4 for Witches Night Out on Sunday, Oct 29th, from 3 PM to 10 PM. It was the same request as last year for the Brick Street Merchants, and it was also requested both parking lots to be closed to accommodate food and activities.
The Ordinance Committee presented for approval An Ordinance Repealing Ordinance No. 1495, And Reclaiming A Conditional Easement from Friends of McAllister Park for a Portion of an Alley in Block Fifteen of the Lebanon Depot Addition Between Prairie Street and Rhoden Street, And West of McAllister/Johnson Park. The council unanimously approved the ordinance.
The Public Property Committee recommended reimbursing the General Fund for TIF expenditures, with money to be paid from the TIF Account, in which the Council unanimously approved. They also recommended the purchase of fourteen 9MM handguns for the police department, so all police officers are using the same type of weapon and ammunition, a move that Federal Forfeiture Funds would cover. Currently, police are using their own weapons. The Council moved with 5 yes votes, with one alderperson abstaining from voting. Lastly, Public Property recommended the purchase of an F150 truck from the Morrow Brothers at State Bid for $67,890. Federal Forfeiture Funds were also to cover this purchase, which was approved unanimously by the council.
The next city council meeting will take place at City Hall in Lebanon, Monday August 28th, at 6:30 PM.