Kent City Council moves to pass conserving energy, snow removal

Amy Szabo

Kent City Council moved to pass an energy conservation plan, adjusted the zoning of university land and approved a snow removal plan at last night’s meeting.

The energy conservation plan

The city’s energy conservation plan will include the installation of solar panels on Fire Station No. 1 for hot water, an upgrade of equipment in the Water Treatment and Water Reclamation plants and research into cheaper ways to install solar panels.

The installation of solar panels will cost the city an additional $33,600 with the current estimate. The plan as a whole will cost approximately $686,000 for updates in eight to ten city buildings, said Councilman Wayne Wilson.

Seven council members voted for the entire plan and two voted against.

“It’s a total waste of money,” Wilson said about the installation of the solar panels. “Technology is not there at this point.”

He added that overall, the plan is a good idea, and the rest of it will have a good payback period of about six to six and a half years.

Councilman John Kuhar said he is for the entire plan, but said he believes the cost is too high.

“We, in this city, need to show that we’re in this century,” Kuhar said.

Service Director Gene Roberts will begin updating equipment in the water plants this year, Wilson said.

Adjusting the zoning

of university district land

This ordinance adjusts the zoning of land in the university district – the university and surrounding area – to allow other organizations, apart from the university, to operate a residential-type hall. This is specifically aimed to enable students to live in a dorm being built by the Kent Presbyterian Church.

Before the issue could be voted on, Councilwoman Heidi Shaffer amended the ordinance.

“I think that the amendment language needs to be more specific,” Shaffer said. “I’m looking 20 years into the future. I wouldn’t want to allow for open-ended development.”

The amendment to the ordinance passed with a vote of 6-3, while the entire ordinance passed with a vote of 8-1.

The ordinance allows the church to move forward with its plans to create residential housing on its grounds.

The snow removal plan

This plan will allow for the re-appropriation of $20,000 for snow removal by the city as well as create civil offenses for not removing snow, a list of snowplow operators and their licenses and an education program regarding sidewalk snow removal.

The creation of civil offenses, list of snowplow operators and their licenses and education program passed unanimously. The re-appropriation of funds passed with a vote of 6-3.

“I think it’s a mistake,” Wilson said about allocating the money to snow removal with the current budget reductions.

Kuhar said he disagreed and called the $20,000 a “drop in the bucket.”

“It’s a move in the right direction,” Shaffer said. She added if the city is going to enforce the law to clear sidewalks, it should work to remove the snow piles created by clearing the streets.

Contact public affairs reporter Amy Szabo at [email protected]. Public affairs reporter Leila Archer contributed to this story.