Richmond Sanitary District’s required record storage has overwhelmed its current administration building. Some customers have also complained the 2380 Liberty Avenue location is not convenient.

The district plans to solve both issues by purchasing an office building at 25 N. Seventh St. Pat Smoker, the sanitary district director, told Richmond Common Council during its May 6 meeting that a purchase agreement has been signed for $347,500, the average of appraisals the district received. It also includes a $17,500 credit at closing for roof repairs, Smoker said.

Smoker appeared before council with an ordinance requesting the appropriation of $98,000 that has been encumbered for the district’s storage solution. Council assigned the ordinance to its finance committee for review.

Even with offsite storage, records are stored in hallways at the district’s current 6,544-square-foot building, and an administrative assistant is located in a public lobby, Smoker said. The district began investigating solutions about four years ago.

Because expansion opportunities at Liberty Avenue are limited, Smoker said purchasing an additional building provides more square footage for the dollar. The Seventh Street location, which is across from Elstro Plaza and owned by Donald and Linda Simkin, is 4,270 square feet with an 8,500-square-foot parking lot.

Smoker said the building would need renovations to become Americans with Disabilities Act compliant and to create a lobby suitable for customers.

Fire merit commission

Richmond Fire Department Chief Jeff Kinder presented an ordinance that would establish a fire department merit commission to hire, fire and discipline members. Currently, the city’s Board of Public Works handles those duties.

Kinder said the state has mandated fire departments implement merit commissions by Jan. 1, 2025. That would change RFD from a seniority-based system to a merit system.

The fire department’s union must approve the merit commission, and Kinder said a preliminary, roll-call vote showed support for the change.

Council assigned the ordinance to its public safety committee.

Traffic programs

Richmond Police Department Chief Kyle Weatherly requested permission for RPD to pursue grant funding from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute for traffic enforcement.

The money pays for officer overtime to promote safe family travel and fight distracted driving as well as for “Click It or Ticket” and “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaigns.

“This is an opportunity for them to provide us funding to focus solely on traffic safety,” Weatherly said.

Other actions

  • Council adopted the multi-hazard mitigation plan created by Wayne County Emergency Management Agency. The plan is updated every five years, and municipalities who do not adopt it would not be eligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency dollars in case of disaster.
  • With a unanimous vote, council modified the unified development ordinance to allow detached garages and carports up to 60% of a primary structure’s footprint on lots less than half an acre. As part of last year’s UDO update, the size of accessory structures on small lots was reduced to 25%; however, planning staff has discovered that prevents residents from building functional garages. 
  • Special Olympics athletes, coaches and families visited council, with special recognition for the Dragons basketball team that won a state championship March 23 by beating Clinton County 24-18. Council member Jane Bumbalough read a proclamation honoring the athletes.
  • Council assigned to its finance committee an ordinance that would allow the city to accept $300,000 from Wayne County for a Hoosier Enduring Legacy Program blight program.
  • Two zoning variance requests were assigned to the Richmond Advisory Plan Commission for its May 22 meeting. One request would enable a resident to remodel a former church building into a single-family home on Holsapple Road, and the other request would permit a Union Pike resident to construct a pole barn on land used for agricultural purposes.
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A version of this article appeared in the May 15 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

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