City Council met for its second regular meeting of June on 6/20/2018. The agenda had several items of city business though there are 3 I would like to highlight and comment on:
- Police Department Presentations
- PUD Update for Princeton Plaza
- Council Investigative Committee (CIC) Legal Counsel
Police Department Presentations
The Police Chief was present at the start of the meeting for 3 items – introduction of a new Violation Bureau Clerk JoAnn Nordwick, a swearing in for new Patrol Officer Alex Marshall, and recognition for Ohio Crime Prevention Association Volunteer of the Year Robert “Bob” Weidlich. All three had plenty of family and friends present and it was a nice set of moments to have the Chief present to talk about the impact these folks have on daily life in Springdale.
PUD Update for Princeton Plaza
For some time the old Princeton Bowl has been closed. The property owner was at the Council meeting having already gone through Planning Committee with a proposed set of changes to the planned uses to allow for the property to be redeveloped as a “Flex Space” that would allow a number of different business to use the space for light commercial / industrial use cases. There was quite a great deal of discussion on the topic largely around the requested zoning changes. To accommodate the wide range of possible use cases the owner requested that any permitted use anywhere in Springdale be permitted at this site. A number of officials (myself included) expressed concern about this request that the location is directly adjacent to residential homes as well as other commercial sites so information was really in order. After a lengthy discussion the owner requested an extension to the PUD vote to allow more discussions between himself and City Administration before City Council acts on the request.
Council Investigative Committee (CIC) Legal Counsel (Emergency Clause)
The CIC has been meeting regularly to investigate an issue that was raised by Councilperson Emerson related to an Executive Session that occurred in 2017. From time to time our city government needs to move from open public meetings to private “Executive Sessions” in order to discuss matters where public discussion could cause harm to the city. Topics may include discussions on pending legal items or economic development (and others.) One key aspect of these sessions is that unless released by the President of Council the discussions from these meetings must remain confidential. On May 2, 2018 the City of Springdale City Council formed a committee to investigate the possible breach of confidentiality of an Executive Session of the City of Springdale City Council and I am a member of that committee.
The scope of the committee includes:
- Investigate a claim of breach of executive session confidentiality related to the May 17, 2017 City of Springdale City Council Executive Session.
- Interview each person present in the May 17, 2017 City of Springdale City Council Executive Session and compile an accounting of the meeting to be available in lieu of an original accounting as a public record.
- Prepare a summary of findings and recommendations to be delivered to the full City of Springdale City Council.
- Support the actions and requests from the review of the findings from the full City of Springdale City Council as required, possibly including, but not limited to creation of censure documents, creation of ordinance / council resolutions, referral for continuing professional education, referral to update City Council rules, referral to the State Bar Association, or referral to the County Prosecutor.
Since the scope of the investigation includes the current Law Director the Law Director recused himself from advising the committee as it conducts its business. As such, the committee needs to have adequate legal counsel and the City Council as a whole was needed to approve both the appointment as well as the funds required for the services.
There was significant debate at the meeting on how this Counsel was selected; even as a member of the committee I raised concern about how the selection process was conducted.
In the end though I believe there was sufficient due diligence, that the selection process was as transparent and efficient as reasonable, and that we landed on the right counsel for the committee. Several council members expressed such concern over the pace and impact the CIC has had on public business, combined with the fact that the CIC was currently having regular session without counsel I found that the emergency clause was appropriate. The measure was approved 5-1 with Councilperson Hawkins III dissenting and Councilperson Shroyer absent.
Noteworthy – the CIC meeting minutes will be posted once available here.