By Peggy Mackenzie
An item on the Tuesday Lewisburg City Council meeting agenda, listing the potential approval for an excavation permit planned for “the rock pile,” behind the Chinese restaurant on North Jefferson Street, prompted several affected citizens to attend. Their expressed concerns addressed potential damage to adjacent structures, zoning changes and traffic growth, and whether adequate insurance coverage was in place. Mayor John Manchester and council parleyed the lengthy discussion.
Developer Don Huber stated he plans to level the 34-acre property with a series of blasts over a period of 45 days. There will also be jack hammering on the site to break down the large rocks. The blast agenda is slated to start in two months. He said he is not anticipating as much blasting as was done years ago. There will not be any hauling the rock materials from the site, he said. The blasting and jack hammering will redistribute about 100,000 cubic yards of material.
According to Huber’s project foreman, Jeff Goldizen, the site is now a hazard. He added that the blasts will be conducted once a day and done in “small shots,” which he did not anticipate would produce much noise. An air horn will announce the blast and assure that all is clear. Goldizen said they will try to schedule the blast for a specific time each day. About 50 property owners residing within 500 yards of the old quarry site were notified.
Huber, who bought the property 10 years ago, says he has no “preconceived plans” for the use of the property. Having met the city planning department’s permit requirements, council approved the developer’s excavation permit use for completion by the end of the year.
In other business:
• The Lewisburg City Council tabled a proposal to readopt a catastrophic leave policy, opting to hold a special meeting to decide whether to reinstate the policy. The policy, which the city previously had in place, was canceled in 2012 because, according to Bonita Sienkiewicz, assistant city administrator, it violated the city’s health insurance policy.
The catastrophic leave policy allows full-time employees to donate, at their discretion, their own accumulated sick leave time to an incapacitated fellow employee, whose financial hardship has exhausted his own sick leave, vacation leave or any paid time off.
The issue was prompted by Police Chief Tim Stover, who said what drove the situation was a knee injury sustained by a deputy in the department, who would be without paid leave for several weeks. “I would like to see a donation of time given,” Stover said. “It’s the right thing to do.”
Stover said his research showed that the policy is commonplace in public sector jobs, including WVSOM. Council voted 4-1 to explore the possibility of reinstating the policy at a single issue special meeting with follow-up information by May 25, or at the latest, on June 2, at 6 p.m.
Council member Mark Etten held that “it is not good to create a policy at the point of use by implementing it on the spot.” Etten cast the sole opposing vote for the special meeting, stating he did not feel a meeting affecting a single employee was a valid reason to do so.
• Council member Josh Baldwin announced that the parks commission will hold a working session on the grounds of Dorie Miller Park on June 7, at 7 p.m., to evaluate the layout of the facilities at the park, addressing safety and parking features at the top of the list. The public is invited for their input, he said.
• Chief Stover announced the police department has begun its annual Click It or Ticket campaign to be concluded by the end of the month.
• Council approved a $100,000 contribution to the Fire Station Construction fund from the city’s general fund.