TIFFIN— Tempers flared early Wednesday at Tiffin’s city council meeting, held at the Springmier Community Library in the CCA Middle School. Residents Tom Fay, Nelson Oliver, Larry Allen and Matt Klein voiced their concerns during the public comments portion of the meeting over a work stoppage, apparently ordered by mayor Steve Berner, on a retention pond between two housing developments.
The pond, located between the Rolling Hills and Woodfield Ridge developments, was the subject of a pair of resolutions under the previous council and mayor Royce Phillips related to ownership and maintenance. Fay asked why the project sits unfinished, citing problems with the pond as it sits, and emphatically stated, “It needs to be finished.” He called the stoppage a “unilateral decision (by Berner).”
Berner and city attorney Steve Greenleaf defended the action, citing an unmet need for 100 percent agreement on the part of residents with property adjoining the pond.
“The resolution is not good without 100 percent agreement,” Greenleaf said prompting Fay to respond, “Give me the damn paperwork, let’s get it done.” Fay and the others offered to buy the remaining bits of land in an effort to move the project along, saying the slope to the pond is currently too steep to mow, and that silt is quickly overtaking the pond.
“The city needs to maintain it, it needs to be finished,” Fay added.
Former Mayor Phillips interjected, attempting to clarify the two separate resolutions in effect regarding the pond.
Though only two homeowners had not signed the agreement, Greenleaf maintained it is lawful and appropriate for the mayor to suspend the action. Fay was not swayed.
“What’s the point of having a city council if you can make a unilateral decision?” he asked Berner, who did not respond.
One of the two unsigned owners in question spoke up that the agreement was in the mail, bringing the number of outstanding agreements to one.
Councilwoman Peggy Upton prefaced her comment by saying she wanted to remain loyal to her mayor and fellow council members, but having inspected the pond herself she sees no way anybody could mow the grass around the pond due to the steep approach.
“I cannot understand why it was stopped,” Upton added.
Allen reiterated only one agreement was lacking, and called for the work to resume.
Berner asked the Council for a consensus to resume the project, and with it, declared, “We are moving on.”
Under the heading of old business was continuation of discussion on a Fringe Area Study that could lead to additional annexations by the City of Tiffin. A map of the fringe area will be updated in the wake of a Planning and Zoning (P&Z) meeting. Names of affected residents will be obtained and the city will contact them regarding possible annexation.
An update is planned for a June meeting.