Whitehall News

Public hearing set on potential senior-housing site

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A public hearing on an ordinance to rezone a 4.8-acre site at South Hamilton and Etna roads is set for the next regular meeting of Whitehall City Council.

If approved as expected, the ordinance would rezone three parcels at 540 S. Hamilton Road, the former site of Swimland, to Planned Apartment District.

Homeport, a nonprofit organization that provides housing for low-income senior citizens, then would acquire the property from the city and build its second campus in Whitehall, city officials said.

Homeport already operates a facility, Eastway Village, at 4237 E. Broad St.

The second campus would be called Hamilton Crossing and the initial phase would include 64 units, said George Tabit, vice president of real estate development for Homeport.

City Council's next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18, at Whitehall City Hall, 360 S. Yearling Road.

At council's Feb. 4 meeting, members unanimously adopted council rules for the ensuing two-year period. The only change from the previous rules was to suspend the practice of requiring residents to sign cards in advance of addressing council during the public polling session of meetings.

Council President Jim Graham said members had discussed the policy change for several weeks at committee meetings before opting to end the practice, because it was believed to be intimidating for some residents who might otherwise have addressed council.

Residents who want to speak instead will be recognized from their seat without advance need for the card, but still will be required to provide a name and address for the meeting's record.

"We think not making residents fill out the card first will make it easier for some of our residents," Councilman Larry Morrison said.

Council members also unanimously adopted an emergency ordinance to amend the city's traffic code concerning fire lanes.

Whitehall schools officials asked the city for assistance in enforcement of fire lanes at Whitehall-Yearling High School, 675 S. Yearling Road.

The new law, effective immediately, empowers police to issue citations and, if deemed necessary, tow vehicles stopped or parked in fire lanes at the high school.

The legislation is specific to the high school, school officials said, and was necessary because of the frequency of the problem at the new high school, which opened in August.

Pavement markings and signs to mark the fire lanes will be installed as soon as weather permits, district officials said.

A representative from the Columbus Metropolitan Library attended the meeting to inform council that construction of the new Whitehall branch has been suspended until April 1 because of the adverse weather conditions.

Auditor Dan Miller also was recognized at the meeting by the Ohio Auditor's Office.

Donovan O'Neil, central Ohio regional liaison for state Auditor Dave Yost, presented Miller with a 2013 Auditor of the State award.

Recipients were selected for excellent audit reports, including timely filing and those that did not contain any findings for recovery, material citations or questioned expenditures, O'Neil said.

The award places Whitehall's auditing practices in about the top 8 percent in Ohio, O'Neil said, alluding to the percentage of municipalities, townships and school districts that were similarly recognized.

Mayor Kim Maggard and numerous other officials commended Miller, who in turn thanked his staff for its contributions.

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