GALLIPOLIS — Gallipolis City Commission voted 4-1 moving an ordinance to amend the disposition of property to a second reading during last week’s meeting.
During the city commission’s previous meeting on Sept. 7, Commission Vice President Michael Fulks proposed an amendment that would change the code for Chapter 105, Disposition of Property. The amendment would allow a vote of three commissioners instead of all five when handling property.
At the time, Commissioner Michael Brown was against the proposed ordinance. The proposal passed 3-1, with Commissioners Fulks, Beau Sang and President Cody Caldwell in favor, Brown against and Commissioner Tony Gallagher absent.
Currently in the city’s code, Chapter 105: Disposition of Property, Section 105.1 Sale of Real or Personal Property, subset C states: “Real property or personal property may be sold by unanimous decision of the City Commission by motion at a City Commission meeting that such property is surplus and that given the nature of such property it should be sold to a designated purchaser at a set price.”
During the first reading of the amended ordinance 02021-33: an ordinance amending chapter 105, disposition of property, of the codified ordinances of the city of Gallipolis, Ohio, City Solicitor Brynn Saunders Noe clarified the amendment could be a vote 4-1 but not 3-2.
“Regardless of what you all decide to do, whether to keep it five or make it [majority], because I think it was requested of me to draft it with majority, which would just be three,” Noe said. “But the Ohio Revised Code requires two-thirds. For us, [it’d] have to be four out of five to be in compliance with the state. So, I drafted it as two-thirds so that we’d be in compliance.”
Noe also mentioned the last time the Gallipolis Code was updated was 2006 and Ohio revised the state code in 2013, so some things, such as listed amount of money for property sales, will need to be addressed at some point.
“We’re in compliance with Ohio Revised Code,” Noe said. “We can be more strict like five instead of four, but we can’t be less strict, which is how some of it is currently written. So, that would need updated, regardless of what you all decide on the real estate sale.”
Brown continued his stance against the amendment and started the discussion by reading a one-page response he had drafted.
“The parking lot in question is to accommodate the employees and visitors to the Justice Center, which is the place to park for municipal court,” Brown said. “I was elected to be a good steward of city property and voting to sell the old parking lot for this seems like a dereliction of that duty. The county wants to purchase this parking lot and will control it and decide its future. The current county commissioners intend this to remain a parking lot, but future county commissioners can do what they want with this property. ”
Brown went on, stating that the current county commissioners will keep the lot for parking, but it is unknown what future commissioners may do with the piece of property. He asked citizens to attend the county commission meeting and ask the commissioners why they wish to purchase a piece of property that can currently be used for free.
“I am informing the entire Gallipolis City Commission, employees and voters that if they persist in selling and giving up control of the only parking lot for the Justice Center employees and visitors, that I will not vote for any emergency ordinance to be presented to the city commission for the rest of my term, which ends December 31, 2023,” Brown said.
Brown informed the commission he would opt out of voting on emergency ordinances during the first discussion of the ordinance to amend as well.
Brown said many believe he is “taking the city hostage” with his refusal to vote but said, “I have listened to the people that voted me in this office to be a good steward of city property and that is the reason I am taking the stand.”
Gallagher said the parking lot was a “dichotomy to me,” but was not against the sale.
“I feel that if we do sell it, then we should have it in writing in the contract signed by the county and us that we have a certain amount of parking spots available to the city for 99 years,” Gallagher said.
Caldwell said that has been discussed with County Commissioner Eugene Greene and “he said that the commissioners were amendable to those terms.”
While the focus of the ordinance turned to one specific property, Fulks — who joined via phone for the ordinance discussion — said the proposal was not about the parking lot.
“It has absolutely nothing to do with selling that property, that can be discussed later,” Fulks said. “It has to do with if a [certain] commissioner, or one or two commissioners decide to hold the commission or the city policy because they want a special pet project, they can do it. Or if a commissioner becomes incapacitated, they cannot be at a meeting for whatever reason and we’ve got something time sensitive that we have to deal with, this gives the majority of the commission the flexibility to deal with it and get it done.”
Brown continued his stance against the amendment of ordinance 105.
The first reading of ordinance 2021-33 passed 4-1 with Brown the only one opposed.
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Brittany Hively is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Follow her on Twitter @bhively1 or reach her at (740) 444-4303 ext 2555.