West Milton plans code-enforcement sweep


By Matt Clevenger

For the Miami Valley Today

WEST MILTON — West Milton Village Council is planning a week-long code-enforcement sweep sometime this August, targeting properties that clearly need mowed or cleaned-up, and other obvious code violations.

“Code enforcement has not been given the proper attention in quite some time,” Municipal Manager D. Jeffrey Sheridan said. “I want to start enforcing the ones that are clearly in violation.”

Council members discussed the code-enforcement sweep during their regular monthly workshop meeting held on Tuesday, July 13.

“I’m hoping to actually do the sweep sometime in August,” Sheridan said. “I’d like to give folks at least two weeks’ notice before we go out.”

The village will issue a press release to local newspapers announcing the sweep, and then staff will visit properties with obvious violations. Property owners will then be given a designated period of time to fix violations before the village takes further action.

“Different violations have different timelines,” Sheridan said. “The village will go in and clean it up, remove it or do whatever needs to be done.”

“I believe a ripple effect will happen; as soon as people get word that we mean business,” Council Member Sarah Copp said. “I’m hoping that people will start to clean-up on their own and not wait for a knock on the door.”

“What’s really important is to try to get folks to clean-up their own property,” Sheridan said. “We don’t want to send our guys in to do it any more than they want us to, because it’s expensive.”

Resident John Hayes addressed council members, noting that he first moved to West Milton in October of 2014. “I asked if there was a copy of the ordinances,” Hayes said. “I was told at that time, there are too many of them.”

No searchable copy of the village’s ordinances is currently available, although that feature could be included in future website upgrades. A hard copy should currently be available at the West Milton Public Library.

“I believe the library has an up-to-date copy,” Vice-Mayor Scott Hurst said. “It should be available there, and if it’s not, that’s something we need to know.”

“The code here is larger than anyplace I’ve ever worked,” Sheridan said. “It needs updated and organized.”

“I think most of the violations we’re going to be dealing with initially are pretty obvious,” he said of the upcoming sweep. “If they honestly don’t know that they are in violation, then the first step is to make them aware.”

Council members also discussed the possibility of bringing back Community Pride Awards.

“We would choose three people per month and give them a Community Pride Award,” Copp said. “We put a sign in their yard; I really liked that, I thought it promoted the upkeep of your property.”

“We would bring them in during a council meeting, and we would award them a plaque and get a picture,” she said. “I would love to get that going again.”

In other business, council members also approved the creation of a special fund for any assistance the village might receive from federal pandemic relief and voted to accept the terms of Chapter 11 bankruptcy for Purdue Pharma.

“It’s in regards to how they (are) manufacturing and distributing opioids,” Village Law Director Lenee Brosh said of the bankruptcy. “Municipalities are entitled to some of that money, based on how it affected their communities.”

West Milton could receive as much as $1.3 million from the settlement.

Council members also tabled one resolution and two other ordinances until their next meeting for further discussion. The tabled resolution would authorize the municipal manager to approve additional changes and increases to the village’s contract for the Ludlow Falls sewer project in an amount up to $358,974.54 if needed.

The village’s original contract with VTF Excavating in 2020 was for $2,693,037.79, and two change orders were approved on June 8, 2021. The Ludlow Falls project’s total budget contains $457,250 in contingencies.

“VTF has now submitted a third contract change order,” Sheridan said. Council members agreed to postpone approval of further changes until their next meeting for additional discussion.

“I don’t think we have enough information,” Council Member Greg Tracy said. “I think that they bid a project, and unless we ask for a change, then they should do the project according to their bid.”

“It’s my understanding that the changes that have been made were mutual,” Sheridan said.

“The only concern I have received from citizens in the Ludlow Falls area is damage to some of the streets that weren’t specifically part of the project from trucks going over them,” he said. “So we’re going to be doing some cost-sharing with Ludlow Falls, where they’re going to kick in some money to fix the roads because they weren’t in great shape before, and we’re going to try to put some additional funds in there to repair them right, so that when we leave the project the community is in better shape.”

Council members also tabled other two ordinances that would add approximately 15% in administrative fees to new water and sewer customers, for further discussion.

“It’s a small amount, but I think it’s a step in the right direction,” Sheridan said. “The water utility especially could use the additional revenue.”

“This would not impact our current customers in any way, shape or form,” he said. “This additional fee would be paid by new home owners when they purchase their sewer and water meter.”

The village currently provides meters at cost.

“This is really only the first step,” Sheridan said. “I hope to do a rate study on both the sewer and water utilities. This is the first step in trying to manage and make the growth pay for itself.”

In other business, council members also expressed gratitude to the West Milton Rotary for donating decorative flower pots for the downtown area, and announced an upcoming Third Thursday event featuring food trucks and live music that will be held downtown on Thursday, Aug. 19.

“I want to thank the Rotary,” Copp said. “They are a self-watering pot. It’s been a blessing that they are there; we don’t have to walk around and water with our jugs.”

“They are really nice pots,” she said. “We can leave them out all winter long, and decorate them for Christmas.”

Council members adjourned their meeting for an executive session to discuss the appointment, employment, dismissal or discipline of a public employee. Council’s next regularly scheduled meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 27.

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