MINGO JUNCTION - Village Council Tuesday approved an ordinance regulating sexually oriented businesses and discussed a state-mandated sewer project that will eventually be paid for by village residents.
The ordinance regulating sexually oriented businesses was prepared by the Ohio Attorney General's Office. It calls for the owner or operator of a sexually oriented business and all employees to be licensed through the village. The application process will include a photograph taken by a police agency, fingerprints and a criminal background check.
The police department will conduct a review of the application and submit the results to village council. The fire department and county health department will inspect the building to make sure it complies with the regulations of those departments. The village administrator also will inspect the building to make sure it complies with the village property maintenance and zoning codes.
Village council will meet within 21 days of the application being made to approve or deny the request. The application can be denied because required information is missing or not completed. The license also can be denied if the applicant has been denied another license elsewhere in the past 12 months or had a license revoked by any other jurisdiction, or the applicant has been convicted of a sexually oriented crime, including promoting prostitution.
The sexually oriented business can have its license revoked for prostitution, allowing controlled substances or illegal drugs into the business or allowing an act of specified sexual activity prohibited under the ordinance.
The ordinance also will not allow a person to appear before a patron in a state of nudity. Employees are allowed to be seminude but must be on a stage separated by a specified distance from patrons, and must not be touched by a patron.
The business is not allowed to operate between midnight and 6 a.m., unless there is a liquor license setting the hours of operation, but the sexually oriented side of the business must end at midnight.
Village Solicitor Ernest Wilson said the ordinance applies to any existing sexually oriented business.
Council also agreed to go forward with the design of the Lincoln Avenue sewer separation project to split sanitary and storm water.
Council several years ago received a state grant and no-interest loan totaling $350,000 through the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, which is mandating the project. The OEPA recently informed the village the money will be withdrawn and possible legal action taken if work doesn't proceed.
The project will cost about $2.5 million. Council members said the cost will be paid for by residents in the amount of $4 a month placed on sewer bills.
Councilman John Bracone was the only councilmember voting against proceeding with the design work. Councilmembers John Fabian, Michael Herrick and Charles Dickey voted in favor. Councilmembers James Morrocco and Jack Brettell were absent from the meeting Tuesday.
Bracone said village residents are already complaining about water rate increases recently imposed.
"People are already strapped," he said.
Bracone said he doesn't believe the Ohio EPA will take the village to court if the sewer separation project doesn't proceed.
"I'm totally against it. I say call the EPA's bluff," Bracone said.
Dickey said the village will look at any other funding available to lower the cost to village residents.
Mayor Ronald DiCarlo said he believes the Ohio EPA is serious about the project, adding the state agency could fine the village and still force the work to proceed.
Council also approved an ordinance changing the table of organization for the police department, adding a patrolman. The police department has a chief, two captains, one lieutenant and now a patrolman. The village has been operating without the patrolman position for the past 18 months because of budget cuts.
Village Police Chief Steve Maguschak said the village received a $125,000 Community Oriented Policing Services grant from the U.S. Justice Department. The grant will pay 75 percent of the cost of the patrolman's wages for three years. The village will have to pay all the wages for a fourth year under the C.O.P.S. grant agreement.
Council also approved an ordinance to accept Wintersville as a member of the Steel Valley Regional Transit Authority.
Wintersville has been receiving bus service on a trial basis since August 2010. Frank Bovina, SVRTA general manager, previously told council that Wintersville's ridership has been increasing.
Under the ordinance, Wintersville and Mingo Junction will have two board members, with Steubenville having four.
Bovina said an operating levy for all three communities will be placed before the voters, probably in the primary election of 2013. He said there is a current operating levy for Steubenville and Mingo Junction that runs through 2015.
Council also heard from Fire Chief John Wright about a grant application he made for a new ambulance and another grant application for breathing apparatus for firefighters.
Wright said the fire department recently received a $3,000 state grant for the village's emergency medical services to purchase backboards and equipment to keep a patient immobilized.
Council's ordinance committee will meet at 11 a.m. July 18 to discuss an ordinance concerning recreational vehicle parking on village streets.
The senior center's summer picnic is scheduled for 5 p.m. on July 26 at Aracoma Park. Contact the senior center to make reservations.