Council ponders: landscaping or eyesore?

One man's landscaping is another man's eyesore -- or such was apparently the case at last Tuesday's (Aug. 13) meeting of Culver's town council, where debate ensued as to whether unmowed grass in the front yard of a College Avenue residence could be considered "native landscaping," as the property owner has claimed.

While some in the audience and on the council debated whether the growth -- three foot high and more in some sections -- is merely weeds or has a legitimate claim as native landscaping, town manager Dave Schoeff sought the advice of town attorney Jim Clevenger.

Council president Sally Ricciardi noted the property owner specified a website with information on native plant species, though council member Ginny Munroe said, "If we don't (order the lawn mowed), everyone else we've sent letters to (concerning grass needing mowed) will say it isn't fair, and they can all grow native plants."

Asked about high grass recently mowed at a commercial property under the same ownership, Schoeff explained the grass was in the town's right of way, so "we went and handled it." If the town mows the grass at the College Avenue property, however, "we're talking about going on private property."

By ordinance, the town may mow property determined to be an eyesore due to overgrowth, after efforts have been made to allow property owners to take care of it themselves first.

"If the ordinance says get it cleaned up, clean it up," said Clevenger. "He can sue you for having mowed his grass, but you can sue him for nuisance...I think if the board determines it's a nuisance, you go that way."

Council member Lynn Overmyer moved a letter be written to the property owner that the grass constitutes a public nuisance and must be mowed within a certain period of time; the council approved the motion.
In other discussion, audience member Russ Mason, asked about usage of the Community Cab transportation vehicle for senior citizens currently stationed every Wednesday in Culver, said he -- as driver -- transports only one person a day "on a good day," and none on many other days.

The Community Cab was launched on a six-month trial basis here around three months ago, in response to requests for expanded coverage from the Marshall County Council on Ageing, which provides limited transportation for seniors around the county. Transportation had already been provided Wednesdays in Culver in the past, but expanded coverage came into being after a town-wide survey showed broad support for it.

"It looks to me like we're very independent in Culver," Mason added. "Maybe we have a son or somebody who takes us to the store...maybe when the weather gets bad, we'll get more business. But we can't sustain the cost of having it down here for one passenger per week."
Mason noted the cost is $2.50 per stop, anywhere in Culver.

Mason also pointed out the Council on Ageing will take residents to medical appointments as far away as Fort Wayne, a free service for those over 60 (and $7 for those under that age). Those trips must be pre-arranged with the Council, he said.

Audience member and Culver park board president Tammy Shaffer discussed the possibility of creating a designated smoking area in Culver's town park, explaining she and others have observed frequent and open violations of the recent ordinance forbidding smoking anywhere in the park. She said many smokers walk to the curb along Lake Shore Drive and throw their cigarette butts into the street, which means most eventually end up in the storm sewer and thus possibly the lake. Others sit in their cars and smoke.

The idea came from town marshal Wayne Bean, who said he'd researched other areas with a park smoking ban in place, and found designated smoking areas are one possible solution.

"Most people would heed it," Bean added.

The council took the matter under advisement.

Approved by council was a request from Sue McInturff of the Culver Fall Fest committee to shut down Main Street between Washington and Madison Streets, and Jefferson Street between the alleys behind South Main Street businesses on the west side of the street, and those on the east side of the street. The closures would take place Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 19 and 20. She also noted children’s' events will take place on the Dicke-owned lot at Main and Jefferson Saturday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., and Sunday between 8 and 3.

Council also held a public hearing concerning additional appropriations from Culver's MVH (Motor Vehicle Highway) fund, totaling $74,874, to pay for the remainder of a bucket truck approved at the last meeting.

Council passed the ordinance to appropriate the funds on first, second, and third readings.

During his town manager's report, Shoeff informed the council he had received quotes for the paving of a town-owned parking lot south of the CVS Pharmacy lot on Ohio Street, with costs ranging from $17,000 to $80,000. He said he would update the council on the matter in more detail at a future meeting.

Schoeff also explained a leaking water line on South Main Street in downtown Culver was the cause of a days' worth of digging in the area near the southwest intersection of Main and Jefferson Streets. A paving crew will patch the area in the coming week, he added.
Munroe suggested occurrences such as the water leak and subsequent digging would make for an ideal use of recently-inaugurated cell phone updates available to all residents.

Council approved signing of a document pledging to adopt Marshall County's Emergency Management Plan as Culver's own plan, which facilitates reimbursement for damages to town property during emergencies.

Mike Stallings of Culver's tree commission said the commission's arborist has finished a survey of the trees of Culver, which was expanded this year to include additional items. Specifically she noted places where sidewalks are heaved due to tree roots or other problems. She recommended 27 dangerous trees needing removal, said Stallings, and is working with the commission toward around 30 tree plantings slated for October.