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The Suburbanite
  • Green’s mayor addresses critic of storm system legislation

  • Mayor Dick Norton on Tuesday addressed criticism about a City Council vote in November that changed the rules regarding sewage discharge into the city’s storm sewer system.

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  • Mayor Dick Norton on Tuesday addressed criticism about a City Council vote in November that changed the rules regarding sewage discharge into the city’s storm sewer system.
    Resident Joel Helms, upset by the changes, began urging a recall effort against two council members, but he said Tuesday he has since learned that is not possible.
    Norton took issue with an advertisement Helms put in the Jan. 13 edition of The Suburbanite, a weekly publication owned by GateHouse Media, which also owns The Repository.
    “He made some statements that are incorrect, they aren’t true and they are misrepresentations of the facts. I think it’s fair that our residents understand the truth behind the legislation.”
    Law Director Stephen Pruneski explained that the legislation was derived from the Environmental Protection Agency’s scheduling an audit of all communities in the state. After its audit, EPA officials recommended the city make some changes. One they defined as “illicit discharges.” Pruneski then gave an example of what the EPA defined as an illicit discharge, which occurs when a septic system fails and discharges into a storm sewer or stream.
    Pruneski continued, “The EPA wanted the city, once the inspection was done and a violation was found, to be able to pursue the correction of that problem. That’s what was put together, that is what was passed.”
    Pruneski then addressed specific issues in Helms’ ad.
    “There was never some threat that we (Green officials) were subject to a $10 million fine for not doing this,” Pruneski said. “That is just false. It did not make every septic system in our community illegal. It did not make any water softener in our community illegal. Those are the myths that are being passed around and the fear being put in people that is simply not true.”
    Norton also defended Council members Dave France and John “Skip” Summerville.
    Helms, who owns an apartment complex on Massillon Road, stood by his interpretation of the city legislation. His ad had claimed that all systems with water softeners are now illegal.
    “I purposefully paid double the cost for the ad to get that exact print. Read it yourself if you think that I made a wrong accusation.”
    Helms said he may be pursue legal action against the city.
    “A judge will make the determination, did any officer of this council violate the law?” Helms said. “It’s up to the judge to make the determination. If the judge doesn’t make the proper determination that I think is viable, then the law has spoken. We do believe that violations of the law have happened.”
    OTHER ACTION:
    • Approved the 2013 annual capital appropriation at a cost of approximately $17 million.
    Page 2 of 2 - • Discussed the special use permit and the general development plan for the Belden Lodge property that the city recently sold to Table for Life limited liability company for $600,000. Table for Life is planning to convert the lodge into a gourmet restaurant and winery. Council will vote on the special use permit and development plan at the next regular meeting.
    • Discussed the creation of a community entertainment district. The 700-acre area that encompasses to the south Graybill Road and Boettler Road, to the west Tabs Drive, to the north state Route 619 and Lindakay Drive and to the east Massillon Road would establish an entertainment district that could entice new entertaining businesses, such as restaurants, to the area. Council will vote the its next meeting.
    • Council, Norton and Pruneski went into an executive session to discuss a land sale, a potential hiring and personnel issue within council. No action was taken after the closed-door session.
    UP NEXT: Meets at 7 p.m. Feb. 12 at the Central Administration Building at 1755 Town Park Boulevard.