Salem committee to begin 5-year planning process

SALEM – The Planning Committee to oversee a five-year process for Salem City Council to plan ahead for spending and action items will hold its first meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in council chambers at city hall.

Council members first talked about the idea last month during a Committee of the Whole meeting where Councilman Dave Nestic offered a written proposal for a planning process that can be reviewed each year once it’s in place.

The idea is to plan in advance for any moves related to infrastructure, community development, housing and zoning and services to residents.

Under his proposal, four sub-committees covering each of those core areas that represent the functions of city government will develop lists of actionable items the administration and council can review when planning for budgets and answering requests for funding.

As part of the plan, he said they’ll use some information already gathered in other reports, such as Salem Area Chamber of Commerce Sustainable Plan, the Salem Downtown Revitalization Technical Advisory Committee or the Salem 20/20 report from several years ago.

The Planning Committee will include Nestic, who serves as the Committee of the Whole chairman, along with the council president, mayor, auditor, service director and sub-committee chairs. Each sub-committee will include a council member as chair, the mayor or service director or both, a representative of the Chamber, a member of TAC, a representative of the Sustainable Opportunity Development Center board, appropriate city managers (chiefs, parks, streets, etc.), and at least one citizen not affiliated with any of the listed groups.

In other business, the Rules and Ordinances Committee meeting canceled last week has been rescheduled for 6:30 p.m. June 26 in council chambers. Some of the agenda items may include a review of an update to the M1 and M2 zoning ordinances, an updated taxi ordinance and a possible draft ordinance regarding indoor shooting ranges.

Part of the reason for the review of the M1 and Ms zoning ordinances stems from questions being raised over the Downtown Metals business on Pershing Street by Councilman Clyde Brown.

Once again, Brown raised the issue during Tuesday’s city council meeting, asking that an email sent to city Law Director Brooke Zellers by Mayor John Berlin be read into the record. The email discussed a meeting the mayor had with Brown and Councilman Jeff Cushman regarding the M1, M2 and M3 zones and whether the business sold a manufactured product, which they concluded the company did and therefore that required them to conduct all processes inside their building.

After the council meeting, both Zellers and city Planning and Zoning Officer Patrick Morrissey said the business was in compliance, as they’ve said previously.

Council took action on several items, including authorizing an appropriation of $10,000 for repairs to the fire department’s aging ladder truck along with other transfers and appropriations and approving a raise of $2.45 per hour for the street foreman to bring his salary to $24.04 per hour to correct what the mayor considered a disparity with what other supervisors in other departments received compared to the people below them.

Council also amended resolutions related to employee contributions to the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund to reflect a 75-cent increase by the state to the mandatory employee contribution for retirement. The city will pick up the 75-cent difference for members of the fire department since they did not receive a wage increase for the last contract.

City Service/Safety Director Ken Kenst spoke briefly about plans for the Salem Super Cruise which starts later this week and Council President Mickey Cope Weaver asked people to keep cruise planner Jim Bonfert in their prayers due to him being ill at this time. She credited him with helping to push for the cruise.

Mary Ann Greier can be reached at