Howard Price wants Richmond to look better.

Price, who finished third in last year’s mayoral election, moved from litter to weeds when he addressed Richmond Common Council during its June 17 meeting. He expressed disappointment at weeds 2 feet tall in cracks between the sidewalk and curb and near stormwater drains along North J Street.

“It sounds kind of trivial, but if the city doesn’t take care of that, somebody that’s not that motivated, they look at that and they say, ‘Well, the city’s not taking care of it. Why should I care? Why should I do anything? That’s their curbs, that’s their sidewalks, they’re not taking care of it,’” Price said. “I’d like to make a push to try and get something done about that.”

Price also pointed at North E Street and East Main Street from Glen Miller Park to 37th Street as problems.

“Do I have a solution?” Price said. “Well, my only solution is, somehow we’ve got to get some money to go to get to these places, and especially into the neighborhoods. That’s not even in the neighborhoods. If you go to the neighborhoods, those are really bad, especially on the north side there.”

Several council members indicated they would check North J Street themselves to see the problem. The city cut some of those weeds, particularly near North 19th Street, the next day. 

Mayor Ron Oler said the city is paying $60,000 this year for weed abatement along main thoroughfares, but the city is checking if North J is on that list. The city spends another $120,000 for mowing weeds and grass in rights-of-way. 

Price suggested that the city request help from State Sen. Jeff Raatz and State Rep. Brad Barrett to alleviate Main Street problems. In that stretch, as U.S. 40, the road is the Indiana Department of Transportation’s responsibility.

Earlier this year, Price approached council about amending the city’s litter ordinance. Council did just that, increasing fines to $100 for a first offense, $150 for a second, $250 for a third and $500 for each additional offense within a year of the first offense.

Tax abatement changes

During annual compliance checks, council’s tax abatement committee found Madison Kipp was not compliant with two tax abatements.

The 10-year abatements were awarded to Omen Casting, which Madison Kipp has since purchased.

Council unanimously converted an alternative abatement of 100% for all 10 years to a regular abatement. That means the abatements for the final four years will be 40%, 30%, 20% then 10%. The alternative abatement was awarded based on the size of the planned investment and planned workforce increase of 135 employees; however, the actual $2,275,207 invested falls short of the $3 million requirement. Sixty-three employees were added.

Council unanimously terminated the second Madison Kipp abatement. The reported investment of $94,663 of a planned $4.4 million falls short of the $250,000 abatement minimum.

Other issues

  • Council heard on first reading an ordinance that would change city code for stormwater management to meet new state regulations. Elijah Welch, the Richmond Sanitary District’s engineer, said municipalities adopting state standards create consistency for development. The ordinance also increases permit fees from a flat $50 to a tiered system based on a development’s size. Council will conduct a public hearing when the ordinance returns for second reading.
  • An ordinance to vacate the alley behind the former Elder-Beerman building prior to demolition was referred to the Richmond Advisory Plan Commission. That board will conduct a public hearing during its June 26 meeting.
  • Council unanimously approved two zoning changes following the plan commission’s unanimous recommendations. One rezones 4465 Union Pike to agriculture, permitting a barn on land that’s been farmland for more than a century. The other rezones 1720 Holsapple Road medium-density single-family residential to allow conversion of a former church building to a residence.
  • Oler told council that the city’s Freedom Jam and Fireworks celebration for Independence Day will be noon to 11 p.m. July 6 at Glen Miller Park’s Roosevelt Hill. Bands will begin playing at 4 p.m. ahead of the fireworks at dusk. Rain date is July 13.
  • A Beat the Heat program to provide window air conditioners to residents at risk during dangerous heat distributed and installed all 40 available units, Oler said.
Share this:

A version of this article appeared in the June 26 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Mike Emery is a reporter and layout editor for the Western Wayne News.