Culver council tackles curbing controversy, business signs

Culver Town Council president Ginny Munroe, along with street department supervisor Bob Porter, will reexamine an Ohio Street property in hopes of resolving recent contentious disagreements between some property owners on the street, and the town, over placement of curbs, part of a sweeping project to replace curbs and gutters, repave, and add or replace sidewalks on several blocks of the street.
At the Council’s June 28 meeting, Ohio Street resident Julie Clark said she’s unable to back her van safely out of her driveway following changes in her driveway configuration resulting from curbing there. She added her attorney has suggested she request a letter from the town that it has “taken part of my driveway and (is) refusing to give in back.”
Munroe, explaining she’s visited the property driving, on foot, and held a meeting there in recent weeks, was under the impression Clark wanted the driveway further towards the property line than she was seeking at the current meeting.
Clark acknowledged she misspoke about specifics at a previous meeting, and clarified she hoped the town would redo part of the work, and where. Munroe said she and Porter would, with the new specifics in hand, revisit the site.
Culver’s Chamber of Commerce will work out specifications on sign placement it hopes will be allowed on sidewalks in town, at least on a seasonal basis, following Chamber member Mike Stallings’ request that the Council consider the matter.
Stallings noted current ordinances forbid “sandwich board” style signs, such as one recently placed outside newly-relocated Gladie’s Deli on Lake Shore Drive. Culver building inspector Russ Mason, following ordinance, informed the restaurant the sign would have to go, and Chamber representatives were advised to take the matter to Culver’s Plan Commission, which deferred it to the Council.
“We’re here to promote business,” said Stallings, adding the Chamber doesn’t feel such signs create clearance or safety concerns on sidewalks, especially since some businesses place tables and chairs outside their locations, also on the sidewalk. It was suggested by audience member Susan Beggs that a permit could be issued allowing requesting businesses to place the signs. Council members expressed openness to the idea, and agreed to wait to hear back from the Chamber on the matter.
Sean and Jeanette Surrisi, residents of Coolidge Court, asked the Council about permitting legalities -- particularly for outside use -- regarding alcohol at the nearby banquet facility on Lake Shore Drive, the site of a recent gathering which the couple said spilled out into the street. Munroe added she had questions about selling and serving food on the same property on weekends, in the form of barbecue sales in the parking lot just west of the building, which has become a banquet space for the nearby Edgewater Grille. Some discussion of alcohol-related permitting legalities followed, and Council agreed to look into the matter.
Parking concerns in the area of the Edgewater Grille and Uptown Cinema on Lake Shore Drive were also discussed, with Mason adding a request made at previous meetings that the Council consider adding a crosswalk in the area, which becomes busy and congested during the summer. Discussion between Council members and Culver police chief Wayne Bean centered around the challenge of finding an appropriate location for the crosswalk.
The Council approved on second and third (thus final) readings the rezoning of property on the south side of Culver, west of Main Street, surrounding the new Garden Court development there, as R2, which allows construction of multi-family units there.
Council voted for an easement suggested by Porter on property on the south side of Culver on land owned by the Hartel family, which would allow the town to reconfigure storm water to ease flooding during heavy rain events in the area.
Also approved was a total of $3,600 for removal of sludge from the sludge bed at Culver’s sanitary sewer plant, a necessity prior to work commencing to improve the facility. Allied Waste will remove and haul away the sludge.
Council voted in favor of drawing up an easement -- at a total cost of $100 -- allowing the town to have access to a portion of property owned by Council member Ralph Winters, at his request. The area, on the north side of Culver, was the site of an incomplete storm water project from the past. Winters had offered to donate the land to the town to allow access to the storm drain there; he recused himself from the vote.
During his department head report, Chief Bean noted the police department’s new truck has arrived, and is having necessary equipment installed. Culver Fire Chief Mike Grover thanked those who supported the department’s annual golf outing recently, which he said was a success.
Winters noted the Council may be called upon to make decisions in the next year in support of a revival of Culver’s triathlon event, which a Culver Academies faculty member is coordinating for next summer in conjunction with Culver’s Lions and Kiwanis Clubs, Chamber, and other entities.
Munroe noted the Council met recently to sift through the many applications it received for the position of Culver’s town manager, for which members will be interviewing chosen applicants in the near future.