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07-13-04 Councilors, residents not in step

By Janie Southard

  ST. HENRY -- Osterholt Subdivision residents turned out in force for the village council meeting Monday to voice again their objections to installing sidewalks on Sunset Avenue and Eastview Drive.

  But St. Henry councilors reaffirmed their intention to proceed with the sidewalks in order to maintain village uniformity and for safety reasons.
  And council has "no intention of paying" for the property needed, according to sidewalk committee chairman Vince Lefeld.
  "Based on what (village Solicitor Dave Bruns) has told us we do not have to pay for the property," Lefeld told the more than 20 attendees at the council meeting.
  Resident Karen Ranly objected to Lefeld by presenting information she researched on the subject of eminent domain. Per a FactSheet from The Ohio State University, eminent domain is the government's right to acquire private property without the property owner's consent.  Quoting from information she found on the Internet, Ranly said the council must pay landowners for property taken away through eminent domain.
  "A landowner must receive just compensation for property that is appropriated ... The compensation offered is based upon an appraisal of the fair market value of the land taken plus any damages resulting to the landowner's remaining lands because of the taking," Ranly read to council.
  Lefeld said the council will act as advised by Bruns, who stated he "never thought in terms of paying anyone (for their property) -- just as on any other (village) project."
  Bruns has agreed to further research the situation.
  The current problems apparently have roots dating back several decades to the original construction of the subdivision when streets and easements were improperly drawn up by the builder. Said plans were approved by the then council.
  Shortly thereafter, council began a long-term project to install sidewalks throughout the village. Over the years other sidewalk projects were completed even after objections from residents.
  Exact specifications of the Osterholt project have yet to be determined, and Lefeld said council members are willing to consider all reasonable suggestions from residents.
  With regard to promises made and promises kept within the village government over the years, resident Roger Ranly observed, "This town has always been run on a handshake, but that's out the window now."
  After lengthy discussion, which failed to reach any agreement between the parties, Mayor Lavern Schulze, an Osterholt subdivision resident, told his neighbors to seek other remedies if they don't agree.
  Betty Hartman, owner of the St. Henry Dairy Dream, approached council to make known her concerns regarding the proposed bar and grill to be located at the old Gels Market property after Gels moves to the former Dave's Market location.
  At the last council meeting, council members approved a liquor license application made by Greg Gels for Greg's Bar and Grill, at the corner of state routes 118 and 119.
  "My property runs right up to Charlie's (Gels) building. We've always gotten along well over the years. His people park there regularly and if they need to move we just call over, and it's no problem. But when Charlie moves out I want (full use) of my property," Hartman said.
  She further stated her concern arises from Charlie Gels' earlier speculation that his son's new bar and grill could accommodate 80 to 100 people, and also that serving liquor is in conflict with her family-style ice cream/food shop.
  "That's a lot of cars to be parked. I don't think there's enough room without using my property. I don't object to people drinking liquor, but it's too close to my family-style place," Hartman said.
  Village Administrator Don Hess said he'd mention her concerns to Charlie Gels, but recommended Hartman contact Greg Gels and make him aware of these issues.


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