MILLERBURG − Council heard an update on the Killbuck Creek cleanup, a call to revise the village’s no-vehicles ordinance on public roads and a public thank you from a resident whose diseased tree was removed over the summer.
Karen Gowter of the Holmes Soil & Water Conservational District (HSWCD) said a blockage in the creek behind the Walmart on South Washington Street was cleared in late 2021, thanks to funding from the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) through their removal program of debris.
Several inspections of the site have been made since the cleanup, and Gotter reports that there is no new debris.
“Work to eliminate congestion and debris hazards between Millersburg and Killbuck was scheduled for summer 2022,” Gotter said. “After the dereche (in June) it was determined that the upstream section needed to be monitored and assessed first to see if debris from that section was likely to move south and undo the gains made by clearing the southern section .”
Village Administrator Nate Troyer noted that after the debris was cleared, there were fewer problems with standing water in the village.
Holmes County Commissioners funded river rangers to survey the north section (County Route 1 to Millersburg), the middle section (Millersburg to Killbuck) and remove a hazard near the footbridge at the Trail Depot.
River Rangers reported 37 hazardous locations as of Oct. 27. Areas were marked where novice paddlers would need extra training to get through safely.
Gotter said an application is being put together to MWCD to address the hazards between Holmesville and Millersburg. A $20,000 project funding cap could mean a delay until 2023, or other funding sources could be pursued.
She said the Appalachian Community Grants Program is a likely source of funding for an effort to clean up the entire Holmes County stretch.
Appeal for the admission of utility vehicles on public roads
Millersburg business owner Nick Mullett asked the council to reverse its decision from several years ago banning ATVs, golf carts and other utility vehicles from public roads.
Mullett noted that state law has a procedure for allowing ATVs on city streets, including requiring insurance, licensed drivers and vehicle inspections.
“I can tell you that the one I have has headlights, turn signals, brake lights, hazard lights, mirrors, a cab, a heater and a snow blower,” he said. “I’m looking to get him to plow the snow on our property here in town.
“I didn’t come here to upset the apple cart,” he continued. “I come with some information.”
He said neighboring communities like Coshocton initially banned them but changed their minds and reported no problems with them.
“You can police with permits, stickers, all you want, but right now the people driving them have insurance, they’re licensed drivers and they’ve passed safety checks,” Mullett said. “They still obey all the rules of the highway. You won’t be speeding to pick up the devil. If you do, it’s the same as someone driving a car. They will be pinched for it.
“I checked in Loudonville,” he continued. “They’ve been doing this for a while, with the same procedures. They require an inspection, proof of insurance, registration number and registration. Everything is going well. They also license golf carts.”
A lawyer to research the ATV law and report back
Mallett asked the council to explore the idea of allowing vehicles with regulations.
“It’s hard for me when I’m coming into town after an e-bike that’s going 35. They don’t use turn signals or hand signals to change lanes, they don’t stop at stop signs, they don’t go through intersections,” he said. “They have to follow the same road rules as licensed drivers. The difference is that they have no books; they don’t have insurance. And we don’t seem to have any control over them. But right now, we can’t bring a licensed (utility) vehicle.”
Council member Kelly Hoffey said she would not be opposed to seeing these types of vehicles in the city.
“I really appreciate you coming and talking to us about this,” Hoffey said. “I’d love to drive a UTV in this town.”
Council member Tom Vaughan expressed concern about such vehicles traveling on any road at speeds over 35 miles per hour.
Attorney Bob Hines added that the laws surrounding the vehicles are confusing and, without reviewing the file, he did not want to offer a legal opinion on it.
The council asked Hines to study the law and report back.
Thanks to the village for taking care of my old tree
Village resident Mike Gerber thanked the village for removing his tree that was damaged by the storm this summer.
“Hershberger Tree Service came and made everything safe,” he said. “They were very kind about it, getting permission to park their equipment at my neighbor’s. They piled up the wood and the village came and removed it the next week. They came the next week and ground the stump. It was done like clockwork. I appreciated the way it was done.
“You have good guys working for you,” he told the council. “I just want to thank the village for taking care of my old tree.”
Troyer suggested a new tree be planted by Tree City staff, and Gerber said anything other than a big redwood would be welcome.