Steve Stange appointed mayor of Solon
By Paul Deaton
SOLON– The city council appointed Steve Stange mayor at a May 7 meeting, and decided to appoint, rather than elect, his replacement on the council.
City voters have until Wednesday, May 21, to file a petition for a special election if they disagree with Stange’s appointment.
Stange had expressed an interest in the position after previous mayor Cami Rasmussen resigned her post to accept an interim position as city administrator.
In a 3-0 vote, Councilors Casey Grover, Mark Krall and Brad Kunkel appointed Stange mayor (Councilor Ron Herdliska was absent). Stange will fill the remainder of Rasmussen’s term, which ends December 2015. Stange was immediately sworn into office by City Clerk Susie Siddell.
“Okay, that one done, street sweeper,” said Stange after his swearing in ceremony, moving directly to the next order of business.
Council then approved purchase of a 2000 Elgin Pelican P street sweeper at a net purchase price of $24,500 after trade-in of the city’s 2000 Schwarze A7000.
Council members also decided to appoint a replacement for Stange on the city council, rather than hold a special election.
Voters could override this decision by filing a petition for a special election.
The filing deadline for a special election for city council is 14 days after notice of intent to appoint, or 14 days after the appointment, depending upon whichever is later, according to Deputy Auditor Kingsley Botchway II. “The estimated cost for a special election is $2,500,” said Botchway in an email.
Kunkel was appointed mayor pro tempore by the council in a 3-0 vote.
After approval of the consent agenda and department reports, Sandy Hanson, president of the Solon Senior Advocates, presented commemorative certificates to Rita Brannaman and Fred Bark and declared them to be the city’s 2014 Seniors of the Year. In his last action as mayor pro tempore, Stange proclaimed May to be Older Americans Month.
Council approved the site plan for Lot 1, Fox Ridge Part 6, precipitating a discussion about rental housing in the city.
“Does the city have any plan on density levels of rental properties?” asked a Fox Ridge resident. “It just seem like we are now the new thing at that end of town where all the rental properties are being placed and that’s a big concern. We see no rental properties being developed anyplace else in town. And now, all of a sudden, that is a high (density) area, getting more dense all the time, and an extraordinary proportion of it is rental properties.”
Stange asked if the issue was one of zoning.
“It’s how the developer approaches the city and what’s agreed upon at the time of the subdivision approval,” said Interim City Administrator Cami Rasmussen.
“We really can’t stop (rental property development). It’s zoned for that,” said Stange.
Council members expressed concern about the lack of low cost rental housing in the city. The new multi-family units proposed in Fox Ridge are expected to rent for $800 to $1,200 per month, putting them out of the price range for many people.
“It’s pretty hard to find an apartment in this town,” said Stange. “There’s not very many.”
“We have to have some affordable housing,” he added, indicating that at $800 to $1,000 per month, the rent was too high.
“Everybody needs a start, and we want people to start in this town,” Stange continued. “All of us lived in an apartment at some point. It’s important to hear our citizens, but to also remember that we have a responsibility for the future of this town and part of that is giving people a chance to start here.”
Rasmussen indicated she would investigate what other cities are doing with regard to low-cost housing and report to council at a future meeting. The council indicated the matter would receive ongoing consideration.
In other business, the council approved renewal of the American Legion’s liquor license, an application for a fun run/walk to be sponsored by Solon boys basketball on May 17, addition of an LED street light to an existing wood pole to illuminate city parking at West Short Street and Sovers Street, and amendment of chapters 92.02, 90.23 and 99.02 of the Solon Municipal Code, increasing water and sewer rates.
Council also set a public hearing date of June 4 for an ordinance regarding a 25 -year agreement with Interstate Power and Light Company, granting the company a non-exclusive franchise to provide electrical service within the city.
The next council meeting is May 21 at 5:30 p.m., tentatively scheduled at the new Solon City Hall.