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Repurposed boat complaint causes waves

PERRY TOWNSHIP — If it looks like a boat, but someone plants flowers in it, is it now a planter?

How about if it walks like a duck and looks like a duck, still a duck, right?

The issue before Perry Township Trustees deals with a boat that’s no longer used as a boat, but is parked (or docked) in a front yard on Lake Avenue (yes, that’s correct) with flowers sprouting from the top and weeds protruding underneath.

Township Zoning Officer Allan Wolfgang made the comment about “walking like a duck..” while talking about the old ski boat.

“Once it’s a boat, it’s always a boat, whether you cut a hole in the bottom or not,” he said during his report.

The issue came up after the property owner, Dwayne Matyi, attended the trustee meeting Monday night regarding a notice he received from Wolfgang about the boat he’s using as a planter.

He read the definition of a boat and of a flower planter and said “what I have there is a planter, filled it up with topsoil and planted flowers. That’s what I have in the yard, not a boat,” he said, adding it’s been there for two years and he checked with the neighbors.

Trustee Jim Armeni said he received the complaint from people at a home that’s for sale behind the property. He also took a photo on his phone that he showed to fellow trustees.

“That’s a boat. That’s not a lawn ornament,” Armeni said.

The property owner offered Armeni $100 to take the boat out on the water and see what happens.

Trustee Chair Steve Bailey said someone could do the same with a car, but it’s still a car. Instead of arguing about it, he suggested letting them look into the situation.

“If we’re getting complaints about it, we have to address it,” he said.

The property owner said either he’ll do it or he’ll make his tenant pull the weeds from underneath. He also said he wants a compromise, telling trustees to find him the section in the zoning that says he can’t have a planter in the front yard and he’ll remove it.

He was told the trustees will get back to him. According to Wolfgang, the trustees would have to declare a nuisance. He said there is a section that says there can’t be a boat between the residence and the road, which would be the front yard.

In another zoning matter, Wolfgang said the zoning board may be scheduling a public hearing via Zoom regarding the new zoning book. The proposed changes have been posted for several months on the township website at www.perrytownshipsalemoh.org for residents to review, but everything stopped due to the pandemic. Once the zoning board has the hearing and recommends the changes to the trustees, the trustees will have to have a separate public hearing and then decide whether to adopt the changes.

He noted that 12 zoning permits were issued in June, with four so far in July.

In other business, trustees accepted the bid and awarded the contract for a new gas furnace, air conditioner and duct work at the north station/administration building for $6,575 to Tolson’s Comfort System of Salem. The cost will be covered by a grant the township received from NOPEC (Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council). The grant just received is for $20,589 and will also cover roof work at the south station for $12,000 and the installation of new LED lighting at the administration building and property.

Trustees also approved a resolution related to CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) money being requested from the county totaling $58,174. That’s the township’s share of the federal funds that can be used to reimburse the township’s costs from dealing with COVID-19, such as masks, cleaning supplies and the cost for Zoom meetings.

The trustees also approved spending for the fire department, with $977 for repairs to Engine 72 and $906 for repairs to Engine 76, both through D&T PM Truck Repair in Kinsman. Trustee Don Rudibaugh said they need to keep up the maintenance on those trucks.

Bailey shared some good news for the police department, with the Salem Community Foundation awarding a grant of $30,000 to the police department for new computers and monitors for the office, a backup system, a multi-function printer, four MARCs radios and four digital radios with portables.

All trustees offered thanks to the SCF for the grant. Rudibaugh also thanked Columbiana County Engineer Bert Dawson for taking care of a couple of potholes on South Lincoln near the tracks.

In the area of budgeting, police Chief Mike Emigh asked about hiring a fifth part-time officer just to have in case since two of the officers he has now are only available once a week due to their main jobs. Bailey said the chief suggested staying at four full-time officers and then using the part-timers and waiting until they see a full year’s budget before deciding whether to hire another full-timer. Emigh said he’ll probably make a recommendation on a part-time officer at the next meeting.

The next trustee meeting will be 4 p.m. July 27 at the administration building.

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