City asked to reconsider store request

STEUBENVILLE – An attorney representing the owner of the University Boulevard Express asked City Council members to reconsider their opposition for a transfer exempt permit application for an economic development project at the gas station and convenient store.

Mark S. Gutentag of Columbus also said he will reach out to Franciscan University of Steubenville officials, who indicated in June the school will oppose a liquor permit for the University Boulevard Express.

“I know Franciscan University is very important to the community. But the university objected to the liquor permit before it was proper. We believe this business is generating tax dollars because the owner is putting $140,000 in the purchase of the empty building as well as renovations and has hired people to work at the store,” Gutentag said.

“All we are asking you to do is to consider the economic development request. If the university chooses to oppose the liquor permit, that will come later when the permit comes before the council,” Gutentag said.

Adam Scurti, vice president of human resources and legal counsel for the university, wrote a letter to the council members on May 23 saying the store is approximately100 to 200 feet from the Padua Hall student housing complex, “and it is totally inappropriate to issue a liquor license in the close proximity to the university students.”

“A liquor license at that location is not in the best interests of the students, and we don’t believe this is a legitimate justification for a license. The university opposes any liquor permit at this location,” Scurti added in his May 23 letter.

Council voted unanimously in May to oppose a request from the Ohio Department of Liquor Control for a transfer exempt permit application for an economic development project from Joe Wayne Bush in Middletown, Ohio, to the University Boulevard Express.

“I hope to reach out to Mr. Scurti and to meet with him to discuss the issues and his concerns,” Gutentag said Tuesday night.

His request to reconsider the economic development project was referred to Law Director S. Gary Repella.

Council also heard from a Wintersville resident and Robert Villamagna, who is unopposed for the 6th Ward council seat on the Nov. 5 ballot, regarding a decision to give service weapons to city police officers.

“I have been told 10 police officers have sold their city-issued weapons. That may be legally right, but it is morally wrong,” said Villamagna.

Mayor and Acting City Manager Domenick Mucci said negotiators involved in the recent police contract talks agreed to give ownership of the weapons to the police officers.

“In exchange for that all new police officers will be required to purchase their own service weapon. This was negotiated during the contract talks,” said Mucci.

City Council approved a new two-year contract to provide in-kind maintenance services for the Historic Fort Steuben during Tuesday night’s regular meeting.

Council heard a second reading for an ordinance authorizing the acting city manager to apply for a grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission for the Buena Vista Boulevard water line upgrade.

The grant money will be used to offset part of the city’s matching funds for the project.

Council also heard the second reading of an ordinance approving expenditures without a purchase order for more than $3,000.

The first reading was held for an ordinance authorizing the acting city manager to advertise for bids for necessary supplies for the service department for 2014.

The Planning Committee met prior to the regular meeting to discuss the city’s zoning code for residences where university students are living.

“So far this year we have had six complaints from residents regarding housing issues. We investigate all complaints and I have gone to the houses we are told about at different hours to investigate the complaints. We have also provided the university with copies of our zoning codes to inform their students,” Urban Projects Director Chris Petrossi explained.

Fourth Ward Councilwoman Angela Suggs said the beautification committee is continuing to prepare for the annual Christmas lighting contest.

“We are also planning a quarter contest for all six wards in the city where a homeowner will be recognized for being the most improved property. We are talking to area churches to adopt a lot as the First Baptist Church did with Murphy Park on Pleasant Heights,” explained Suggs.

Health Commissioner Patty Reda announced area residents can turn in unused medications from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. near Scaffidi’s Restaurant at the Hollywood City Center.

Second Ward Councilman Rick Perkins requested a Finance Committee meeting for 6 p.m. Tuesday in executive session to discuss ongoing contract negotiations with the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 228.

And, Sixth Ward Councilman David Lalich scheduled a Utility Committee meeting for 7:10 p.m. Tuesday to discuss the city’s water line infrastructure.