Proposed charter change to affect City Park structures

By Dean Wright -

GALLIPOLIS — An ordinance was brought before the Gallipolis City Commission last Tuesday with the goal of placing a city charter amendment before town residents in the November election to determine whether future buildings could be demolished or created in City Park, with discussion of the ordinance being tabled for the time being.

According to notes taken by City Clerk and Auditor Annette Landers, the charter amendment would ask citizens if they would approve the prohibition of future construction or demolition inside the boundaries of City Park. The ordinance drafted said this was intended to “preserve and protect the historic nature of Gallipolis City Park.”

The ordinance asked whether the ordinance should be forwarded to the Gallia Board of Elections to be placed on the ballot for the Nov. 7 election. The charter amendment would state that no structure could be erected in the boundaries of Gallipolis City Park after January 1, 2018. No structure in existence on December 31, 2017, inside the park could be demolished without a petition signed by 50 percent of eligible voting city residents and a unanimous vote by the commission. Structures would be defined as anything constructed or erected which requires a permanent location on the ground or attachment to something having such location. A structure would not include physical improvements flush with the ground such as patios, sidewalks and driveways. Nothing in the law would prevent the preservation, maintenance, repair, cleaning or modification of existing structures so long as said preservation, maintenance, repair, cleaning or modification was in keeping with the historic nature of the park and the originally intended purpose of the existing structure.

City Commissioner Stephen Wallis made a motion to place the ordinance on its first reading and was seconded by Commissioner Mike Fulks. City Commissioner Gene Greene said the ordinance was to give the residents a chance to have a say about what would happen in the park. Commissioner Matt Johnson reportedly observed that section D of the ordinance would not prevent construction of anything which had already come before the commission.

City Solicitor Adam Salisbury, according to the notes, suggested that a stipulation be added that a petition of 50 percent of eligible voters could elect to allow construction in the park. Johnson wanted to amend the section to say construction could be allowed if 25 percent of voters signed a petition and that a majority of commissioners instead of a unanimous vote be required to approve such. No second motion was put forward in. Johnson then made a motion to amend the section in question to ask for 50 percent of voters and a majority of City Commission’s approval vote, which again, did not move forward for lacking a second.

Eventually, the ordinance was tabled after Johnson motioned and Commissioner Roger Brandeberry seconded. According to legal counsel, if the ordinance was to go before the Gallia Board of Elections for the coming November election, the ordinance could be adopted by commission by July or a little after to still go onto the ballot. The ordinance was eventually tabled for further discussion at a later meeting. The next city commission meeting is scheduled July 5 at 6 p.m.

Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.

By Dean Wright