New limit on public comment met with dissent at Weston City Council

© 2017-The Weston Democrat

Rental Resignation ordinance dissolved to avoid the potential for legal issues

Monday’s Weston City Council meeting heated up following a new restriction on public comment.
During the open forum section of the meeting, held at Weston Fire Department, Weston City Police Chief Josh Thomas informed Weston resident Randy Bohan, about the restriction.
Thomas said Bohan and other speakers are limited to three minutes, and could only address the topic in which they signed up to speak about. Bohan signed up to speak about an alley in Shadybrook.
Bohan responded that he intended to address previous questions he had asked city
officials that he felt had not been answered. Thomas reiterated that Bohan was limited to the one subject he signed up for.
“I don’t agree with that,” Bohan said.  
Thomas responded, “Well that's the way it is.”   
Moving on, Bohan said he had been speaking to other cities about salaries. Thomas questioned the information’s relevance to the alley subject that Bohan was set to speak about, but Bohan said it was relevant.
Bohan spoke about other nearby cities, including Phillipi, Clarksburg, and Grafton, highlighting the services they provide and the percentage of their budgets that went toward “upper management,” Bohan then claimed that Weston paid 9.7 percent of its budget to, “upper management.”
“What does this have to do with the alley,” Thomas again interjected.  
“We’re not getting anything done with the alley.  That’s my point,” Bohan responded, going on to say that the city was spending money and not getting results.   
Bohan also attempted to speak later in the meeting, as Weston Fire Chief Kenny James was speaking in support of the upcoming fire levy, but was prevented from doing so by Mayor Julia Spelsberg.
Bohan again rose to speak, this time after the meeting had adjourned, telling city officials that they may silence him in the meetings, but he would not be silenced in the community.
In other news, council members voted 4-0 to dissolve the Rental Registration ordinance, which was enacted in February, 2013.  
The ordinance required residential rentals properties to be registered with the city, and required inspections of those properties every two years. It was enacted just this year.
The dissolution was done at the request of City Building Inspector Bryan Reed, who had recently been informed by an attorney with the West Virginia University Law Clinic that there was a case study on similar laws.The case study called the constitutionality of similar laws into question.  
Reed also said that  through his own research, he had discovered a similar law was recently found unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court.  
In other Weston City Council news:
—Weston Street Department head Jacob Culver told the council that an agreement was pending with Dr. Robert Snuffer to use property Snuffer owns for a right-a-way that could be used for emergency and local traffic during the proposed repair of the Polk Creek Bridge.  
—Culver also said the street department was looking into the pros and cons of switching to salt brine for road treatment during the winter months.  
Culver said he had recently attended a conference that highlighted the effectiveness and economic benefit of using salt brine over rock salt.   
—Council voted unanimously to  allow one hour of free parking at all of Weston’s meters for the month of December.  
The original proposal was to allow free parking on Main Avenue between First and Second Street, but Councilman Justin Roy moved to expand that citywide.   
—Council also unanimously approved $250 in incentive pay for city employees ahead of the holidays.   
—Roy, along with Councilmen Eric Dever and John Wylie, praised Culver and his department for their promptness in responding to issues being brought to the councilman by citizens.

More In News