One councilman believes the city has more pressing problems than massage parlors.
By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- Residential property owners will see a $2.50 storm-water drainage fee added to their utility bills next month.
City council passed an ordinance Wednesday that creates a storm-water utility. Under federal law enforced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the city is required to have a water pollution control program for storm-water discharges in place by early next year.
The program includes mapping out the city's storm-water system to identify problem areas where storm water discharges into the Mahoning River.
Pollution and flooding
The main goal of the program is to prevent river pollution, but city officials have said it also will address flooding concerns that affected much of the city last week.
Joe Bryant of Douglas Street Northwest and Evelyn Neal of Comstock Street told council members about flooding at their homes from last week's storms.
Bryant had 3 feet of water in his basement.
"This has happened twice in the last six years. Something has to be done," he said.
It cost him more than $750 to get his furnace fixed, he said.
Neal said it took her two days to get her house back in order after 2 inches of water flooded her basement.
The storm-water fees will increase under the legislation from this year through 2006.
The fees for commercial property are based on the number of standard-sized vehicles that can be parked there.
The plan was developed by a five-member board that includes community representatives.
Council members also talked briefly about massage parlors in the city, which some contend are a front for prostitution. Earlier this week, members of the administration suggested posting cameras outside of the businesses to deter illegal activity.
"I don't think anyone here is trying to legislate morality," Mayor Hank Angelo said.
It's an issue of defining the character of the city and what people want that character to be, he said.
"If there's nothing illegal going on, then there's no reason for anyone to fear," he said.
The cameras, which would cost between $1,500 and $3,000, also could be used around drug houses, the mayor said.
Councilman Gary Fonce, D-at large, said that after listening to residents talk about flooding at their homes and thinking about the city's character, "we as a city council do not focus on the things we need to focus on."
Besides flooding he also listed the condition of roads in the city as something that needs to be addressed.
"Massage parlors are not on that list," Fonce said.
Cameras aren't the answer, he said. Ordinances already exist to address the kinds of activity suspected in massage parlors, the councilman said.
"We are doing the citizens of Warren a disservice because we are not focusing on the things we need to focus on because we're spinning our wheels on nonissues," Fonce said.