LIMA — Gov. Mike DeWine’s “stay at home” order has pushed a number of local governments to put their council and committee meetings on hold as they work to find new ways to keep the public involved in municipal decision making.
Lima Council President John Nixon said Lima City Council, which normally meets twice a month, canceled its Monday night meeting after hearing the governor’s order come down the line Sunday.
“We’re postponing the meeting until a later date,” Nixon said. “What we are working on is the technical part and the legal part of doing telecommunications or telephonic meetings, and we don’t quite have that ironed out yet.”
Nixon said he doesn’t foresee the council meeting cancellation having any major repercussions with City of Lima business due to the meeting’s already sparse agenda. Of the ordinances listed on the agenda released last Thursday, they included four contracts, levying assessments for property code violations and designating a historic building.
Of the six, Nixon said the historic designation for 330 N. Central Ave., however, may need to be fast-tracked under current deadlines.
Normally, the building would need to receive a historic designation by April 1 in order to qualify for state and federal restoration funding, but council is looking to see if that deadline is being pushed back as part of similar COVID-19 related changes. If not, a special meeting may be required.
Business Owner Rob Nelson requested the historic designation for 330 N. Central Ave, originally the J.M. Sealts Building, in order to utilize historic restoration funding to offset the roughly $6 million cost to create Nelson’s 700-person-capacity Middle America Brewing Company at that location.
Bluffton Village Council also canceled its meeting Monday after hearing the governor’s orders. Bluffton Fiscal Officer Kevin Nickel said the village had made some changes — opting to hold the meeting in the police garage to have more room for social distancing — prior to the cancellation, but the governor’s orders made the cancellation official. For the time being, the village plans to hold its next regularly scheduled meeting on April 13.
In comparison, the City of Delphos, however, still held its city council meeting Monday night. The city had been filming the proceedings and making them available live on Facebook, and city officials continued the practice Monday with one change. They had no public audience.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.