City Council Approves Crosswalk, Other Proposals at Meeting


Abe Frato

City Council meetings are held bi-weekly in person.

On Feb. 21, the Oberlin City Council met at the council chambers to discuss a number of proposals and ordinances. All members of the Council were present, as were City Manager Rob Hillard, Finance Director Sal Talarico, Law Director Jon Clark, and Clerk of Council Belinda Anderson.

The meeting started with a presentation by the Oberlin Community Land Trust, where they showcased the first home they completed with their land trust model. The organization also requested two more vacant residential lots to create more affordable houses for members of the community that have historically been excluded from the housing market. They would like city fees such as implementing electricity, water, and sewer connections to be waived in order to save the homeowner money.

Representatives of EDL, a global producer of sustainable energy, updated the council on the Lorain Renewable Natural Gas Project, which was approved in 2022 and involved building a natural gas plant in Oberlin. Both the council and one member of the public questioned the representatives, mostly regarding their approach to safety and possible pollution by the plant.

A subsequent ordinance aimed to authorize the City Manager to enter a contract with Utilities Instrumentation Service of Cedarville for testing and equipment energization at the Hill Creek Switchyard, which is part of the new Lorain Renewable Natural Gas Project. They requested emergency status, which was unanimously granted, along with the initial proposal.

There was no old business for the council to attend to, but there were eight items on the new business agenda.

The Oberlin Public Works Department asked permission to purchase two new Toyota pickup trucks, both of which were different from the original trucks allocated in the budget. They also requested that this ordinance be elevated to emergency, which means that the council will waive the typical three-reading requirement. Therefore, the ordinance will take effect as soon as it is passed. Both requests were unanimously granted by the council.

Public Works Director Jeff Bauman presented an ordinance authorizing the Ohio Department of Transportation to review and approve a changed speed limit from 35 miles per hour to 30 miles per hour on State Route 511 between North Park Street and Cedar Street. This ordinance also involved adding a crosswalk between Oberlin College’s Wilder Hall and Science Center, which would include multiple updates to that area. Bauman then asked for emergency status. Both requests were unanimously granted.

An ordinance looked to authorize the City Manager to enter into a contract with statewide Ford Lincoln of Van Wert to buy 2023 Ford Hybrid Utility Police Interceptor Vehicles for the Oberlin Police Department. The department asked for emergency status. The council unanimously granted both requests.

Recreation Superintendent Ian Yarber then presented an ordinance to update fees for recreation programs, such as the Playground Experience to keep up with the increasing costs of running these programs. The council granted this request unanimously. The Planning and Development Department proposed an ordinance that looked to amend the general residential and Ohio building code permit fee schedule. They requested emergency status “to reduce certain permit fees and to establish new permit fees without delay so as to decrease the financial burden on applicants for permits.” The emergency status was not granted, so there will be two subsequent readings about this ordinance.

An approval was requested by The Charter Review Committee requested approval for the updated Rules of Procedure, which would change the overly specific requirement of six members for certain actions to a more easily convenable “quorum.” The committee requested emergency status, which was unanimously granted along with the initial proposal.

After being requested in emergency status and unanimously granted, the City Manager was authorized to enter a contract with Utilities Instrumentation Service of Cedarville for testing and equipment energization at the Hill Creek Switchyard, which is part of the new Lorain Renewable Natural Gas Project. They requested emergency status, which unanimously was granted, along with the initial proposal.

Finally, the ordinance requested to permit the City Manager to manage and lease 212 acres of Oberlin land for agricultural purposes. The council amended this slightly so that they would have some say on the price and lease length. The representative of the City Manager also requested emergency status. The council granted these requests unanimously.

At the end of the council meeting, multiple members encouraged the Oberlin residents to fill out a Social Equity Assessment Survey they would be receiving in the mail. They also reminded residents that if a recycling can is full, not to put their items there until it is empty. They rounded out the meeting with compliments to the Arb, downtown Oberlin, and to young people who are aware of Jimi Hendrix.