Jefferson residents will have plenty of opportunity to comment at the Wednesday, December 18, council meeting because several ordinances will be open for a public hearing.

The ordinances were introduced on Wednesday, December 4.

One ordinance calls for the consolidation of the planning and zoning boards into a Land Use Board. This consolidation was approved by voters in 2009, but not implemented. In a preliminary discussion last month, council decided the time is now right.

Consolidating the boards saves money on staffing, because it eliminates one attorney and one engineer, and means fewer volunteers are needed. Mayor Eric Wilsusen told council that the zoning board is losing two longtime members. Zoning boards of adjustment require five votes for certain variances and the board is down to five members.

Last month, Township Administrator Debra Milikin said the new land use board will have nine members and four alternates. The mayor or his designee and a council appointee will serve on that board as they did on planning board, but they will step aside for two alternates when a use variance comes before the board. The state’s Municipal Land Use Law does not allow elected officials to vote on use variances. Use variances allow a property to be used for something that is not allowed in that zone. Under a combined board, the mayor will appoint three members and council the rest.

Many municipalities have moved from two separate boards to one over the last few years.

Other ordinances set new fees for construction, fire suppression, health services, and septic maintenance. Wilsusen said the fees had not been changed in many years. Deleted from the ordinance were adoption fees from the township pound. The mayor said more discussion is needed on those fee changes.

Tabled also was a livestock ordinance. Wilsusen said the township has never had an ordinance governing the keeping of chickens, but more discussion is necessary. He said some members of council have been fielding questions about more people keeping poultry.

Another ordinance up for public hearing on December 18 will allow parking permits for high school students to park on Weldon Road.

Early next year, council will have a draft of an ordinance changing the fees paid by utility and construction companies for having police cars parked at construction sites. Currently, the township charges $25 an hour, but council discussed setting a cap of $100 a day and working on a rate scale, Wilsusen said. The draft ordinance should be ready for the first meeting in January.

After an executive session, council voted to hire Raymond Tighe as township tax assessor at a salary of $60,000 per year for the part time job. His work schedule is still to be worked out.

The previous assessor, Shawn Hopkins, also worked part time as assessor, but had another position for the township.

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