During the June 12 city council meeting, emotions ran a little high as the citizens of Shinnston questioned the new ordinances being read for a second time.
One of those being an ordinance about water runoff from houses’ downspouts and drains and into the storm sewer system the into the storm sewer system, “stormwater ordinance.”
City manager, Chad Edwards, said that while many are already in compliance with the ordinance, there is still a lot of runoff water in the sewer systems. “There’s several things the city is going to have to do on our end, such as seal manholes. So there’s a lot of things we’re going to have to do, and when I say ‘we’ I mean the city.”
“And this (ordinance) will not apply to anybody who has already taken their storm drains or downspouts out of the storm sewer system,” Mayor Rodney Strait said. “If you don’t have them in, you don’t have to worry about it.”
One of the citizens who attended the meeting was concerned about outside basement drains near stairs in homes built before 1990, but city manager, Chad Edwards, didn’t seem overly concerned about those drains. He said he is focusing on water runoff from “roofs” and other large volumes of runoff water.
Edwards said about those who do not comply with the ordinance, “No one’s going to get a bill without being notified. It’s going to be a situation where we find someone who still has their storm drain still in the sewer. We’ll ask them to remove it and then give them 30 days or something like that. And it doesn’t have to be a fancy job.”
Pat Kolvak said that he can already think of $100,000 offhand that the city has spent from the general fund to restore stormwater damage. “We’ve been taking care of it at your expense out of the general fund,” Kolvak said to the citizens.
He also assured that these ordinances written up are “shared” ordinances from the state and he doesn’t write the rules and regulations from scratch. “It’s part of the state family.”
Edwards said that they will do everything they can to help people comply with these ordinances and won’t simply “slap them with a fee” when cited. “That’s the way we operate,” he said.
A second reading of the high grass and grass clippings ordinance was also conducted that night. “When you cut your grass and blow it into the street, sweep it up,” Strait said. “Blow it back into your yard.”
“It’s dangerous for motorcycles,” Edwards said.
During the reading, one of the citizens questioned what the ordinance meant by “high grass,” and stated that there were “no inches” listed there.
“Seems to me to be 8-10 inches,” Strait said. He said that he doesn’t know for sure until they speak with the code enforcer.
Edwards said he said he felt the question was “splitting hairs,” but also added, “l said, let’s be clear when we cite people for high grass we’re not citing people because they’re seven inches instead of six inches. People with grass that’s up to your neck, those people are getting cited. We’re not going out with tape measures and saying, ‘nope, nope, it’s 6.5 inches, we’re going to get you fined.’ If it’s an eye sore and when the snakes can live in it.”
Edwards also commended the public works crew of Shinnston, calling them “one of the best.” He said he’s, “really happy with them. I don’t have to check up on them. I know they’re working and doing things that need done.”
“They’re getting a lot of things done,” Strait said.
One more employee has been added to the public works staff as well.
An update on the purchase of Hutchinson was also brought to the council from Edwards. “I talked to Clay Riley about Hutchinson, and if we go the route that the PSC wants us to go with the purchase,again there’ll be no money exchanged, but they want to do it just because it’ll just be faster. (But) then we won’t get the money for distressed utilities.
Edwards said that he won’t budge and is determined that if this purchase is to continue, he wants the distressed utility money from the state.
“If we have to go the long way, that’s what we’ll do. I had fully planned for the state to pay for some line upgrades and putting new meters in. That was part of the plan.”Edwards said,
“We can’t spend our citizens’ money,” Mary Ann Ferris added about the possibility of not receiving distressed utility money with the purchase of the Hutchinson water system.