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Belpre Council to review development

BELPRE — At its next meeting in March, Belpre City Council hopes to review a new economic development plan for Belpre and see what steps can be taken moving forward.

Belpre City Council held its regular meeting Monday evening. Due to the spike in COVID-19 cases, the Belpre City Building has been closed since Nov. 18, with all business conducted by mail, phone and electronically or by appointment. Monday’s meeting was held by Zoom.

In his report, Mayor Michael Lorentz said he was present Feb. 25 when Jesse Roush, executive director with the Southeast Ohio Port Authority, presented the Burton Economic Development Plan which was developed in 2020 for the city of Belpre. The plan had been scheduled for presentation to city officials during the year but COVID-19 caused delays.

Lorentz said the next city council meeting on March 22 is expected to be an in-person event and Roush is scheduled to attend to answer questions. The audience or visitors may still need to Zoom.

Among the issues expected to be identified in the plan are affordable housing, creating a community investment program, workforce development and quality of life issues like recreation.

Lorentz said the city and the Washington County Commission are still trying to find the source of re-occurring high flows from a sewer line shared by the city and county. Starting next week, the county is installing a Scada system like Belpre’s to identify the areas of water infiltration. In turn they have asked to continue the current city-county agreement for a couple more months until accurate readings can be obtained, he said.

“They will continue to pay the $30,000 a month until that time. The commissioners have also agreed to assist us with the sewer improvements we need. Their support in this effort will hopefully give us the needed points to obtain grants,” Lorentz said.

The mayor and safety-service director have been in contact with Professional Pool Management getting ready to open Belpre’s pool. After being closed in 2020, the city lost all of its seasonal returning veterans, Lorentz said. Some cleaning and repairs are now starting.

Lorentz said the newly formed committee for the Belpre Homecoming has set the dates for Aug. 5,6, and 7. Fireworks are planned for the evening of Aug. 7 with a rain date of Aug. 8.

As of Friday, Washington County is at the top of the list for COVID-19 cases and remains in a red status. Also, on Friday, Lorentz said it was learned that one of the ladies working at the Belpre Senior Center tested positive for COVID-19 and that building is once again closed until testing and quarantine can be confirmed.

In other business, council approved the first readings on three resolutions — one for supplemental appropriations for 2021 and the other two involving the annual contracts for the management of the Belpre Senior Center and for Soil and Water Conservation services for the city. The next readings will be held at a future council meeting.

The Planning and Zoning Committee will hold two meetings prior to the March 22 council meeting. The first, at 6:30 p.m., will continue discussions regarding golf carts and the second, at 7 p.m., will continue discussions of the city’s C-3 zoning.

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