Celina councilors retain utility
rule that landowners must pay abandoned bills
By SEAN RICE
Celina City Council, with a new lineup of members for 2004,
unanimously closed the books Monday on two hotly debated issues
left over from 2003 on a zoning issue and renters utility bills.
New members June Scott and Chris Mohler, who took over the seats
of Bob Nuding and now Mayor Sharon LaRue, and the others on
council overturned former mayor Paul Arnold’s year-ending
veto of a zoning change that creates four light manufacturing
The group also put into effect an updated Celina Utilities rules
and regulations book, which enables cycle billing, increases
initial deposits and retains a controversial clause stating
landowners can be held responsible for abandoned utility bills.
A group of Celina-area landlords debated the policy changes
with city officials as the legislation traveled through public
meetings. Some landlords Monday praised director of administrative
services Jeff Hazel’s efforts in combating delinquent
“I appreciate that you are working on the problem, rather
than wondering who is going to pay it,” Celina landowner
Elmer Kuess said.
Likes some changes
Landlord Ken Werling said he appreciates the other policy changes,
like the new $200 deposit and increased vigilance in locating
delinquent payers, “since we’re going to get hung
Prior to unanimously enacting the policy change, the council
reversed a veto by former Mayor Paul Arnold. Arnold refrained
from signing the ordinance that created a light manufacturing
(M-2) district, and cleared the way for a used car dealership
to open in the Celina Industrial Park, near Grand Lake and Havemann
“We are really asking for the rezone to be more like the
businesses in that area ... we have a beauty shop on one end
and Wal-Mart on the other,” Jim Moran, a potential investor,
told the council.
The council, less the absent Rick Bachelor, unanimously overturned
the veto and put the zoning change into effect.
Members also unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance
to increase drinking water rates by 20 percent, to pay for costs
associated with engineering studies and well exploration in
the quest for a new treatment plant.
“We will have a large infrastructure expense no matter
which way we go,” Safety-Service Director Mike Sovinski
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has fined Celina
$10,000 and is forcing the city to permanently fix the water
treatment plant, so high trihalomethane (THM) levels are abolished.
For 10 years Celina has exceeded the legal limit for THMs, a
group of chemicals believed to cause cancer.
“This decision we’re about to make is going to affect
us for a long time,” Sovinski said.
Council members decided to put more funds into exploring the
option of well digging. Celina’s water plant is currently
supplied by Grand Lake.
Digging to begin
Members passed an emergency ordinance providing $60,000 to dig
wells on an alternative site, on a field owned by the Howick
family east on Celina-Mendon Road and north of Ohio 197. A large
well and two smaller observation wells were already dug on a
field east of U.S. 127, but the wells did not produce the level
of water officials hoped, Sovinski said. The same number of
wells are planned for the alternative site.
City officials may choose an alternative to accepting a donation
of 15 wooded acres from The Daily Standard publisher Frank Snyder.
Members passed the first reading of a resolution accepting the
gift, but decided to meet and discuss restrictions on the deed.
“I think this is a wonderful addition to Westview Park,”
council President Bill Sell said.
The donation, known locally as the Miller Woods, comes with
deed restrictions that prohibit the parcel from being developed,
except for a caretaker’s house. It states the land is
to remain wooded.
“It’s a very generous offer, but I’m a little
bit concerned about the restrictions,” council member
Collin Bryan said.