More talk urged on sidewalk law

A Front Street business property owner asked members of Marietta City Council’s planning, zoning, annexation and housing committee Tuesday to consider reinstating the second reading of a portion of legislation introduced during Thursday’s regular council meeting.

The proposed legislation would repeal section 722 of the Marietta city code that prohibits the sale of “…merchandise, wares, goods, foods, periodicals or other articles of value for present or future delivery” on city property.

The new ordinance would also replace section 722 with language allowing vendors to obtain licenses to operate in designated city parks and would allow current business owners to sell food and beverages on city sidewalks in front of their stores.

Instead of the usual three readings of new legislation, the council members agreed to suspend the second reading of the proposed ordinance, meaning the final reading and vote to approve the measure would take place during the next council session on July 3.

But Dave Haney, who leases business properties with sidewalk frontage on Front Street, told the committee that he objected to the law enabling non-food businesses to sell food on the sidewalks adjacent to their establishments.

“I don’t like that,” he said. “And I don’t like that this legislation makes us guilty of a minor misdemeanor if anyone is in violation of the ordinance. I think that penalty is beyond reasonable.”

Haney said instead of a misdemeanor citation being issued to a business owner the first time a violation occurs, a warning should be issued first, and then a fine charged if there’s a secondary offense. He said a higher fine should be levied on the third offense, then a fourth-degree misdemeanor citation issued for any fourth offense.

“It’s my understanding that going to court for a misdemeanor offense can impact a business’ credit records,” he said, adding that appearing in court on a misdemeanor charge can also incur court and legal fees.

“I just think the whole ordinance is overkill,” Haney said, and asked for the council members to perform all three readings before final passage of the measure.

City law director Paul Bertram III said once council agreed to suspend the second reading it could not be put back in.

“The only solution would be to table the measure for further discussion,” he said. “That’s doable. Then the legislation could be brought for a final vote during council’s July 18 meeting.”

“I think it should be tabled, then,” Haney said.

It was not clear Tuesday whether the council members would agree to table the ordinance, but no action can be taken on the measure until the July 3 meeting at 7:30 p.m. in the community building at Lookout Park.

In other business Tuesday, the city will pay $23,000 to pay for materials to upgrade the bumpy CSX Railroad crossing over Ohio 7 at the east end of the Washington Street Bridge. The funding will come from the county 5-cent permissive tax levied on area fuel purchases.

City engineer Joe Tucker said CSX is scheduled to do the work on Aug. 5-7, and the road will have to be closed all three of those days. He said the Ohio Department of Transportation will develop a detour for traffic during the project.

Also on Tuesday, Eric Lambert, project manager with the city engineering department, said the North Hills water tank painting project will be done by American SunCraft of Medway. The company’s base bid was $324,400, and it submitted an alternate bid to provide a special ‘hydro flow’ topcoat for the tank at $339,400.

Lambert said the hydro flow coat could extend the life of the paint job by five to seven years, and the alternate bid still came in below the engineer’s estimate for the project.

He added that American Star Painting, LLC, of Marietta is the recommended contractor to paint the city’s water treatment plant solids contact tank for a cost of $131,983.

Both tank painting projects are expected to be completed this year.