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Commissioners consider partial street vacation, approve additional funding for sheriff’s office

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Tiffin, Ohio — The Seneca County Board of Commissioners received a quarterly update from Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership (TSEP) personnel Thursday morning.

TSEP President and CEO David Zak concluded the report by discussing the development of the TSEP staff.

He said the organization had recently added Corrina Haynes as an Operations Manager and Chandler Grooms as a Workforce Development Manager.

Zak also gave kudos to the rest of his existing team for their hard work on economic and community development across the county.

Zak gave updates on 2021 goals. The goal for projects was for $40 million of investment and 100 new jobs. So far this year, the community has exceeded this goal by reaching $40 million of investment and 367 new jobs.

TSEP continues to manage 34 programs, work on spec buildings and industrial parks and improve on communication and marketing. The organization has also completed its Fortune 500 program, which was a retention and expansion plan to make contact with at least 500 county businesses (they reached 567).

In other business, the board held a public hearing concerning the potential vacation of a portion of Continental Street, (Township Road 198 A), which is in section 24 of Hopewell Township. On July 19th, the Hopewell Township Trustees approved a resolution that formally asks the Seneca County Board of Commissioners to vacate the portion of the street.

A street vacation, also known as an alley vacation or vacation of public access, is a type of easement in which a government transfers the right-of-way of a public street, highway or alley to a private property owner.

The board heard from County Engineer Mark Zimmerman, citizens, landowners, representatives from Hopewell Township Trustees and the city of Tiffin during the hearing.

Seneca County Prosecutor Derek DeVine and Zimmerman both recommended that the county deny the vacation request because it would landlock a parcel owned by the city of Tiffin and this is not allowable per the Ohio Revised Code.

Tiffin Law Director Brent Howard urged the county to deny the vacation, citing the city’s need for legal access to the parcel that would be landlocked as a result of the pending vacation. Howard said that there is a retention pond in the area. He said significant flooding has occurred in the Miami Street corridor in the past and that problem was reduced by improvements to the parcel. The city mows and maintains the area and crews need to have legal access. This access would be denied if the pending vacation was approved.

Hopewell Township Trustee Jim Clouse said the township supports the vacation request. Landowners in the surrounding area had varying opinions.

Zimmerman said a vacation request for the same area was explored in 1996, but never moved forward due to the same obstacle: a parcel may not be landlocked as a result of a street vacation.

The commissioners did not decide on the request but said they’d refer the matter back to DeVine for further review.

In other action, Seneca County Sheriff Fred Stevens spoke with the commissioners via Zoom regarding his most recent budgetary request for supplemental appropriations equaling about $375,000. Thus far in 2021, the sheriff’s office has seen its budget supplemented by about $712,000.

After a lengthy discussion Thursday, the board approved another $291,367.07 of the most recent request. The funds are to cover personnel costs for the rest of the year following contract negotiations.

Also, County Administrator Stacy Wilson said the county’s legal counsel advised the board to wait until after Ohio Senate Bill 52 goes into effect on Oct. 11 to start a process that could lead to the potential restriction or prohibition of the development of large wind and/or solar facilities in some or all unincorporated areas of the county. After Oct. 11, the commissioners will release more information about the timeline of a public hearing concerning the matter.

In new business, the board approved:

  • A grant received by the Seneca County Common Pleas Court for $392,488 through the Targeted Community Alternatives to Prison program. The program compensates the county for keeping non-violent offenders of low-level felony crimes in the county jail as opposed to state prison, and also offers more rehabilitative services to those individuals. Some of the funding also goes to the Seneca County Jail. The program is administered by the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties at no cost.
  • A $14,000, $370 and $350 supplemental appropriation to the General Fund for the prosecutor’s office.
  • Two supplemental appropriations totaling $25,000 to the Maintenance and Repair Fund. • A $13,133.84 supplemental appropriation to the DRETAC Fund (treasurer).
  • A $26,500 supplemental appropriation to the Special Projects Fund for equipment.
  • A $5,000 supplemental appropriation to the DLQ Care and Custody Grant Fund.
  • $35,980.00 of supplemental appropriations in the Victims of Crime Act Grant Fund.
  • A $50,000 supplemental appropriation to the Justice Center Operating Fund.
  • Accepting the amounts and rates as determined by the Budget Commission and authorizing necessary tax levies and certifying them to the county auditor.
  • Accepting the bid and contract with Midwest Contracting, on behalf of CROSSWAEH.
  • Authorizing a real estate purchase agreement with Seneca County Re-Ad Industries.
  • Authorizing the commissioners to sign the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction subsidy grant agreement for the T-CAP program.
  • Authorizing an agreement with Stantec Consulting Services for engineer services for 2022 Ohio Department of Transportation improvements to the Seneca County Airport to replace runway lighting.

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