Council to review three readings policy

By Gary Budzak

March 12, 2014

Delaware City Council is going to review its policy of approving legislation without three readings after a council member complained about its abuse at the March 10 meeting.

“I’m tired of sitting here every meeting and suspending the rules,” said Councilman Chris Jones during the meeting. “It affects our form of government.”

Council may suspend the rules requiring the three readings of an ordinance over the course of three meetings. The second reading is often considered a public hearing, and the public may give their opinion to council during that meeting. Council can make a motion on an ordinance after the third reading, if it doesn’t suspend the rules beforehand.

Earlier in the meeting, Council suspended the rules and unanimously approved an ordinance to accept a grant with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to restore the Delaware Run and Blue Limestone Park Wetlands.

The grant of $186,534 will allow the city to replace the park’s existing driveways and parking lots with previous pavement, adding educational kiosks and a bike path, and replacing a ball field with community gardens. The $310,890 project will improve the water quality of the run before it flows into the Olentangy River.

Public Utilities Director Brad Stanton requested that council suspend the rules to speed up work on the project, since it needs to be completed by October. Council voted 6-0 to suspend the rules and approve the ordinance.

However, Council voted 4-2 to suspend the rules requiring three readings on an ordinance to develop section 2A of the Braumiller Woods subdivision, with Jones and George Hellinger casting the opposing votes. City Attorney Darren Shulman said that a 5-2 super-majority vote was required to approve the motion, noting that one council member was excused, and the ordinance would have to go on to a second reading. “See you in two weeks,” Mayor Carolyn Kay Riggle told Jim Lipnos of Homewood Corporation.

After the first reading of two ordinances for the development of 99 single family lots in the Crownover Reserve subdivision, Kevin McCauley of Stavroff Interests requested that council waive the three readings.

“We’re at risk of losing another selling season,” McCauley said. “It would be a showstopper for us.”

Councilman Andrew Brush asked Jones if he would oppose suspending the rules requiring three readings. Jones said he would.

“I’m struggling every day with this,” Jones said. “I’ve come to my limit.”

“This will jeopardize a revenue source,” Brush said. “Development in this area is important to pay down the (infrastructure) debt.”

Jones said he had nothing against the developer, it was about the principle.

Brush said Jones had a legitimate point, and council should try to find a solution to the problem during its retreat on March 15.

Council then unanimously passed motions to amend the Crownover Reserve ordinances, suspended the rules requiring three readings, and approved the subdivisions. Then, they unanimously reconsidered the Braumiller Woods ordinance, suspended the rules requiring three readings, and approved the subdivision.