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By Lasca Randels
LEESBURG — Council President Christina Archer announced during the Leesburg Town Council meeting Monday, Sept. 11, that the K21 walking path project is “well underway” on Van Buren Street.
The project was initiated by a pledge from the K21 Foundation.
Nine towns in the county, including Leesburg, were provided the opportunity to receive up to $200,000 for projects focusing on health and wellness in their community.
“I’m really pleased with how much has been accomplished just since Labor Day and things are moving along really nicely,” Archer said. “I think everybody is going to be really pleased with it, and as we hopefully get the curb finished on the south side, that will be terrific also.”
In another matter, Street Commissioner Craig Charlton said he issued four ordinance warnings related to grass and weeds exceeding 12 inches in height as well as six warnings addressing tree limbs overhanging into streets, sidewalks and alleys.
Per the town’s ordinance, “It shall be the duty of each property owner and tenant and occupant to keep the limbs of trees projecting over streets, sidewalks and alleys trimmed in such a manner that the overhanging foliage and branches shall not at any time be less than 12 feet above the ground or walk, and to keep the shrubbery trimmed so that it does not overhang the sidewalk or project into the travel portion of the alleys.”
“We will pick those up if they trim them,” Charlton said. “If there’s a problem getting them trimmed, let me know. I might know someone who can help them.”
He pointed out that with Halloween coming up and trick-or-treaters being out, it is important for sidewalks and alleys to be clear, as liability falls on the homeowner.
Charlton said currently it is “virtually impossible” to get a fire truck through some of the alleyways in town. In addition, in order for snowplows to get through during the winter months, the alleys need to be clear.
Later in the meeting, council continued discussion regarding ordinance updates, specifically in fines/penalties being uniform across the board.
Charlton said currently several warnings are issued prior to initiation of any fine.
Council Vice-President Tom Moore said sometimes the town can be “a little generous with warnings” and said he would like to see a policy regarding how many warnings are given before some action is taken. In addition, Moore said there is not a lot of enforcement language in Ordinance 10.99.
Attorney Nick Jacobs said the process appears to be laid out in the ordinance, which states that if a violation is observed, there will be a written warning. If the warning does not fix the issue, then it will progress from there.
Councilman Mitch Rader said he believes there is enforcement language in the ordinance, as it is stated that fines shall be paid to the clerk-treasurer within 30 days and if not paid, civil action to collect the fine will be filed in Kosciusko County Superior Court on behalf of the town.
Council members plan to continue work on this and will discuss it further when they meet again.
A public hearing for the 2024 budget was held as well. Leesburg Clerk-Treasurer Mike Searfoss announced the proposed 2024 budget total is $287,446, with $6,000 in the rainy day fund, $147,900 in the general fund, $8,000 in the local roads and streets fund, $122,546 in the motor vehicle highway fund and $3,000 in the cumulative capital fund. The proposed budget adoption will be Oct. 9, at the October council meeting.
In other news:
- Rader provided information related to the Community Crossings grant. He said the first thing the town needs to do is have a pavement surface evaluation and rating. The town would use the grant money to help pay for micro-sealing, potentially in the spring of 2024. According to Michiana Area Council of Governments, the plan is to do the evaluation in September.
- Council members would like to remind residents of the following: no parking on any street between 3-5 a.m. every day; no burning anything, any time; please, be mindful of what you flush; street department cell number is (574) 527-2884.
- The next regular meeting will be 6:30 p.m. Oct. 9.