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Archives for 2013
The Thanksgiving season is always a great time to contemplate the things for which we are thankful. This month I’d like to say thank you to a special group of citizens who have dedicated many hours of their time serving Willoughby and its citizens. I’m referring to the folks who serve on our various Boards and Commissions. These people put in a tremendous amount of time during the year helping us carry out the “business of government” in an orderly and efficient manner. Here are the folks which deserve all of our gratitude for their commitment to serving us:
BOARD OF BUILDING CODE APPEALS; Tony Ranallo, Tom Ruple, Michael Gallagher, Randy Vinson; Richard Parker; Jay Byram
CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION; Greg Schmidt, Eric Barbe, Jeff Mitchell
DESIGN REVIEW BOARD (HISTORIC PRESERVATION DISTRICT); Dan Volpe, Judy Smalley, John Perkovich, Jeanne Gifford, Al DiFranco
PLANNING COMMISSION; Robert Irvine, Gerald Merhar, Ken Kary, Chuck Cox, Bob Fiala
SHADE TREE COMMISSION; Don Lewis, Gregg Transky, Maria Tomaselli, John Forkins, Bob Carr
SIGN REVIEW BOARD; Gerald Geisinger, Tim Yerman, Dave Kuhar, Tara M. Ward, Joseph Koscovics
ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS; Bruno Frate, Greg Patt, Michael Wildermuth, Harry Siskind, Joseph Palmer
If you see these folks during the Holidays, please let them know that you appreciate their service. They really do a lot to help preserve and enhance the quality of life we all enjoy in Willoughby.
Have a great Thanksgiving.
We’re #16 on CNN Money’s list! Check out the News-Herald’s coverage right here.
The City of Willoughby has initiated a program for certain owners of single and two family homes, who may be eligible to receive a financial grant, for improvements to aid in the reduction of risk of a sanitary sewer backup.
Eligibility details and a grant application are available below. The signed application and supporting documentation can be mailed or dropped off at the Service Department at City Hall, Monday – Friday from 8:00 am – 4:30 pm.
Private Property Sanitary Sewer Backup Reduction Grant Program Eligibility and Program Requirements
- Certain owners of single family and two family dwellings are eligible to receive a financial grant in the amount of seventy-five percent (75%) of the improvement with a maximum grant of One Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($1,500) to aid in the reduction of risk of a sanitary sewer backup in single family and two family dwellings.
- Applications for a grant must be made by the property owner on a form provided by the City. The owner shall be responsible for compliance with the program requirements and completion of any funded improvement.
- Grant awards shall be processed in the order in which they are received. The total amount of the grants awarded will not exceed the total amount of funds appropriated by the Council of the City of Willoughby.
- Owners of single family and two family dwellings within the City of Willoughby that are connected to the City of Willoughby sanitary sewer system are eligible for participation.
- Eligible properties include those determined by the city to be “at risk.” At-risk properties are those meeting one of the following criteria: 1) The property has experienced a sanitary sewer backup since February 28, 2011. 2) The backup is unrelated to a failure of the owner’s private sanitary system. Verification will be determined by the City through documentation of such an event being reported to the City or documentation of an insurance claim, restoration costs incurred, or other information acceptable to the City. 3) There is less than three feet of vertical separation from the lowest sanitary sewer connection in the structure and the top of the sanitary sewer main serving the structure at the point where the private sanitary lateral is likely connected. 4) The property meets the criteria contained above in this paragraph and the owner has made an eligible improvement since February 29, 2011, and seeks reimbursement for such improvement. The City Engineer, or his designee, shall verify all elevations. All grants must be approved by the Service Director.
- In addition, to be eligible for City funding the following conditions must be met: 1) the structure must be legally connected to the City of Willoughby sanitary sewer collection system. 2) The owner must agree to allow reasonable testing (such as smoke or dye introduction) to make such a determination. 3) Any connections, such as downspouts or sump pumps, found to be connected into the sanitary system shall be immediately disconnected and rerouted to the appropriate outlet. Downspouts must be terminated to downspout splash blocks; 4) the owner and contractor agree improvements shall comply with all applicable local and state statutes and ordinances, and building rules and regulations, and the contractor shall obtain all required permits; 5) the property owner shall agree to allow the City of Willoughby Service Department to televise the sanitary lateral from the structure to the main prior to any work being commenced. If any deficiencies, obstructions or defects in the line are observed, the property owner agrees to remedy such defects consistent with rules and regulations that exist at the time of grant application.
- Eligible work includes: a) the elimination of basement connections; b) the installation of backflow prevention or (backwater) check valves, floor drain plugs, floor drain float plugs, or stand pipes; c) conversion to overhead or high-wall plumbing; or other improvements approved by the City Engineer and Chief Building Inspector that will prevent sanitary sewage from entering the dwelling through the dwelling’s fixtures or sanitary drain connections to the public sanitary sewer system. d) Restoration work necessary as a direct result of these repairs. Restoration work does not include wall or floor coverings, replacement of appliances or other private property, and cleaning or maintenance of the sanitary sewer service line. All properties, regardless of changes in ownership or project cost, shall be eligible for only one grant.
- Eligible applicants must obtain at least three quotes from licensed private contractors registered to perform work within the City of Willoughby. Each quote must clearly reflect the work to be performed and how the proposed improvement will prevent or reduce the likelihood of sanitary backups into the dwelling. The City Engineer, or his designee, must inspect the home prior to any work and verify the necessity of the work and that such improvement satisfies program requirements. Permits must be obtained by a contractor registered with the City of Willoughby for any and all work performed. Permit fees for eligible improvements under this program shall be waived.
- The lowest of the three (or more) quotes obtained by the Owner shall be the basis for reimbursement as outlined in paragraph 1. The Owner is not obligated to hire the contractor with the lowest quote. The City shall provide the grant for approved improvements upon completion of the work. Completion shall be defined as passing final inspection and finishing any related restoration work to the satisfaction of the City. The City will either reimburse the owner upon proof of payment to the Contractor for such improvement or pay the contractor directly upon completion. In either case, the applicant understands the work to be performed represents a contract between the property owner and contractor, and the City is not liable for system failures, future claims related to unacceptable workmanship, or any damage resulting from sanitary sewer backup or flooding, or any claims of any nature regarding the work of the contractor.
- By acceptance of the grant, applicants acknowledge that participation in the Private Property Sanitary Sewer Backup Reduction Grant Program is voluntary and any work performed pursuant to this program does not guarantee the elimination of all risk of sanitary sewer backups. The City encourages regular and proper maintenance of any and all systems installed to prevent sanitary sewer backups. However, the City accepts no responsibility for property damage resulting from future sanitary sewer backups.
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As part of our City charter, our council wards must be kept as even as possible in regards to population. In response to a growing imbalance due to residential growth in the northern parts of Wards 1 and 2, council has created a new ward map that will be effective as of January 1, 2014. City Engineer Jim Sayles drew up this new map with a target population of 3,700 residents per ward as the goal. As a result, the current Ward 1 has been split into a new Ward 1 and Ward 2. Ward 2 Councilman Bob Fiala will then live in Ward 3. Current Council President and Ward 3 Councilman Jerry Ranally will be in Ward 5 along with current Ward 5 Councilwoman Karen Manning. Downtown Willoughby, currently split into two wards, will be wholly within the redrawn Ward 5. Wards 4 and 6 will remain largely unchanged.
Elections this November will decide the occupants of these Council seats.
Download the new Ward Map for a look at the redistricting efforts.
So how can a 200 year storm take place just seven years after the last 200 year storm?
That’s the question many Northeast Ohio residents are asking after last month’s huge rain event swamped some 15,000 basements in the area. This latest storm dumped between five and six inches of rain in a nine hour period. Weather charts tell us that this falls somewhere between a 200 year and 500 year storm.
The term 100 year or 200 year storm is used by meteorologists and engineers but is somewhat of a misnomer. Actually, these terms refer to the percentage of time that a storm is likely to occur. A 100 year storm has a 1% chance of occurring. A two hundred year storm has a .5% chance of occurring. We’re all familiar with the term “chance of precipitation.” A meteorologist might say “chance of precipitation is 20%.” If he would add “chance of flood is .5%” this would more accurately define the chance of a 200 year flood.
In other words, every time it rains there is a .5 percent chance that five to six inches of water could be dumped on us in a short time frame. The odds aren’t great, but like lottery winners, it can happen. Unfortunately, Northeast Ohio won the “flood lottery” twice in seven years.
Ten years ago we revised our storm water management ordinances for new development in the city. This was actually mandated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. In 1987 amendments were added to the Clean Water Act which required the U.S. EPA to address storm water runoff in two phases. Phase I of the EPA’s Storm Water Program began in 1990 and applied to large and medium municipal storm sewer systems. Phase II of the program began in 2003 and applied to smaller municipalities, including Willoughby. As a result, Willoughby adopted new storm water regulations in March of 2003.
Part of these regulations called for larger storm water retention systems for new development. Prior to 2003 retention basins and underground retention systems were designed for 25 year storms (4% chance of happening.) Since 2003 all new subdivision and industrial construction must design retention systems for a 100 year event.
Earlier this year we began the first phase of a citywide storm water study to determine what we have to do to solve storm water problems in the city. Our plan was divided into seven phases, with the idea of completing one phase a year. Since the most recent rain event we’ve decided to expedite the plan and have it completed within the next year or so. At that time we will have a better understanding of the problems and possible solutions to many of the flooding problems that have occurred, as well as an estimate of the costs involved.
As these studies are completed I’ll share more information with you. We will also continue to maintain our systems in the best possible working order. In the meantime, we can all hope and pray that we don’t hit the “storm lottery” again anytime soon.
Have a great month.
You can now register for most of our programs online. Head on over and check it out!
Change Batteries this Weekend!
Fire Departments are urging people to replace the batteries in their smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms this weekend for Daylight Saving Time. This year, Daylight Saving Time ends (fall back), on Sunday, November 3rd. Fresh batteries allow smoke and CO alarms to do their jobs saving lives by alerting families of a fire or a buildup of deadly carbon monoxide in their homes.
It is estimated that there was a yearly average of 386,300 residential fires resulting in nearly 2,400 deaths between 2006 and 2008.
Two-thirds of fire deaths occur in homes where there are no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. That is why it is important to replace batteries at least once every year and to test your alarms every month to make sure they work. It is recommended all homes have smoke alarms on every level, outside bedrooms and inside each bedroom.
The CPSC estimates there was an annual average of 183 unintentional non-fire CO poisoning deaths associated with consumer products between 2006 and 2008. CO is called the “invisible killer,” because it is a colorless, odorless and poisonous gas. Because of this, people may not know they are being poisoned. Carbon monoxide is produced by the incomplete burning of fuel in various products, including furnaces, portable generators, fireplaces, cars and charcoal grills.
That is why it is important to have a working CO alarm in the home.
The Willoughby Fire Department has a FREE smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector program.
Contact the Willoughby Fire Department at 440-953-4343 if you would like to schedule a smoke detector evaluation and/or an install.