Camden zoning plan tabled

By Nathan Hoskins - [email protected]

CAMDEN — During a Thursday, Jan. 5, meeting, Camden Village Council discussed the zoning code which is undergoing revision before being implemented sometime in 2023.

On the agenda were the second readings for ordinance #1043-2022 and #1044-2022, which apply to the village’s Land Use Plan and Zoning Code.

During the second reading of the ordinances, both council member Jeff Steele and council member Judy Michael voted against, while the rest of council voted in favor of. In order for the third and final reading to pass into effect, three fourths of the six-member council must vote in favor of it.

“What do we need here from you guys in order to move on with this?” questioned council member Kelly Doran.

Steele has expressed numerous issues with the drafted zoning code. He has specifically voiced concern on how the code will affect the three mobile home parks in the village boundaries.

Steele has stated he will not vote in favor of the ordinances until the code has been thoroughly amended. “We’ve been 200 years without it. Another month or two, another week or two, what’s it going to hurt?” he asked.

“If it changes in character, that zoning code, then we have to redo the entire process. Including a public hearing. So that’s 30 days in advance, the notice, three readings and then another 30 days,” remarked the village’s deputy administrator, Benjamin Gunderson.

According to Steele, within the pages of the drafted code, the village would have the “say” in structures built outside of village limits.

“Why would we have the say in anything built outside the village limits? That’s one of my questions. Why would we have a dog in that fight? We have no jurisdiction outside of the village,” remarked Steele.

“What would that be specifically – that’s the future land use map – that’s the only thing. That is for planning purpose. So, if we foresee that being a potential industrial business park, that indicates that we’re planning for that,” returned Gunderson.

Gunderson insisted, other than a particular 87 acres of land on the edge of the village, all other property would be outside of Camden’s jurisdiction. “There’s nothing in there that indicates that 87 acres there at the north side of town, other than the future land use map.”

“I’m just saying, it’s in here, anything within so many feet of the village limits has to have approval by the village. And that was one of my other questions. If its outside the limits, what do we have a say?” reiterated Steele.

“We don’t have a say in anything outside the village limits. So I don’t — I’ll have to review it. Because I don’t know what you’re talking about,” concluded Gunderson.

The village is under no time restrictions for the establishment of the zoning code.

In other business:

• Council re-elected Judy Michael as president for 2023.

• Council voted to hire a current part-time Camden police officer as a full-time officer at $45,000 yearly, as well as increasing part-time pay for the PD to $18 hourly.

• Gunderson approached council seeking a solution to social media messaging with the public. Gunderson’s concern is that, currently, he and one other staff member of the village are responsible for the correspondence via social media, and therefore cannot give official responses to inquiries. In addition, it goes against the village policy to conduct business over social media.

Gunderson sought the council’s opinion on the matter, which was unanimously against answering any official inquiries over social media. Council advised the deputy administrator find a way to block messaging for the village accounts.

• Gunderson also addressed the village’s policies for vacation, sick and funeral leave.

“Over the holidays I needed to take off time for a funeral related issue, with the hours that I earn weekly, I did not have sick time to cover that. So, if council is not allowing me to use vacation time, and I can’t use my bereavement time, then we need to figure out a way to come up with the days needed,” sais Gunderson.

According to Doran, two of Gunderson’s relatives have passed in a time frame of three months, and therefore council should consider accommodating his request.

“I thought the question was we change the policy for him, that he could use vacation time before it was actually due?” questioned Michael. “What I’m saying is if you change that policy for Ben, it changes the policy for everybody. We cannot make policy change for one individual. It doesn’t work that way.”

Gunderson, who has worked for the village of Camden for just over a year, was recently hired as a full-time employee, and thereby falls under a six-month probationary period. His request of council was to change his official full-time start date to his original start date, and would therefore be able to accrue vacation time.

According to Camden’s fiscal officer, Becky Wilson, under the current rules provided in the employee handbook for the village, employees are able to take funeral leave, but will go uncompensated unless they also use sick leave.

Michael added, in the new employee handbook which is undergoing revision, this is no longer the case and has been corrected.

Gunderson went on to point out, the ORC (Ohio Revised Code) guarantees employees three days of funeral leave.

“But do we follow everything with the ORC? With all of our rules and regulations? Or, do we pick and choose?” asked Steele.

“Do we adopt the Ohio Revised Code every single year?” Gunderson asked.

“Correct. But what I’m saying though, is that states we have to pay you bereavement time. It doesn’t say where the pay comes from. Can you use vacation time, or sick time? I guess that’s where we need to get deeper into the weeds on it,” said Steele.

Gunderson expressed his opinion such payment is separate from vacation or sick time, however Steele maintained the matter was still too unclear.

Michael made the point the deputy village administrator is paid by salary. “You’re working 40 hours, you get your salary. If you work 80 hours, you get your salary. You’re not getting overtime; you’re getting a straight salary. So why would that not cover your bereavement and time off?”

“I just want to ensure it’s done right, that’s all. Especially for auditing purposes,” replied Gunderson.

Though council expressed no issue with employees being provided time or compensation for bereavement, they also expressed there must be certain terms for which time and compensation will be distributed, which would require further deliberation and the formation of resolutions. No official decisions were made during the meeting.

Camden Village Council meetings are public meetings held on the first and third Thursday of each month, at 7 p.m. at Camden Town Hall.

By Nathan Hoskins

[email protected]

Reach Nathan Hoskins at 937-683-4057.

Reach Nathan Hoskins at 937-683-4057.