Living by the rules

Staff Writer
CRIDERSVILLE — The Cridersville police chief recently addressed Cridersville Village Council members about possibly moving outside the village, but councilors have yet to issue a formal decision on the request.
Some say they may not be able to issue any restrictions since an Ohio Supreme Court interpreted the law and declared municipalities cannot restrict police officers and firefighters from living anywhere less than in the county where the municipality exists or in an adjacent county.
Cridersville Police Chief John Drake is considering a move outside of the village limits of Cridersville. This would be in violation of an existing ordinance, but a new ordinance has been prepared for councilors to adopt which would permit him to live within 15 miles of Cridersville. The legislation received its first reading during Monday’s meeting.
Village Solicitor Angela Elliott, who prepared the ordinance for councilors consideration at Monday’s meeting, explained the village of Cridersville follows the Ohio Revised Code and the Ohio Basic
See Move, Page 5A
Code. She interpreted a provision that permits a village to limit the police chief, or marshall,to live within the village limits, but the village can modify this and create an ordinance specific to a person.
On Monday, councilors plan to suspend the rule of three readings at its April meeting and passing it as an emergency, which means it can take affect immediately upon the mayor’s signature. Councilors decided Monday to take the next month to investigate the matter and to hear comments from village residents.
“We are not completely opposed to this idea,” Cridersville Mayor Lorali Myers said. “I certainly understand people outgrow their home and want to be able to move.”
Myers said she wants residents to know about this idea and how they feel about this.
The wording of the ordinance is specific to Drake, as it states Drake would not have to be a resident of the village.
Myers wants to reiterate that the village will still have 24-hour police service.
Councilor Stacey Cook voiced her concerns on the topic during the discussion during council.
“I’ve been supportive of John, and the fast response,” Cook said, “but I’ve seen too many people move outside the limits and become disconnected.”
Cook said she wants Drake to find a nice house, but she still wants him in the community.
Drake told councilors that he has been looking at houses, but he has not done anything yet. He is waiting to hear if the ordinance passes or not by council.
“As long as John isn’t in the middle of something, I say we wait one month so everyone in town knows what we are doing,” councilor Rick Walls said.
The city of Wapakoneta dealt with the issue in 2010, when Wapakoneta City Council members passed four ordinances — one each dealing with the police chief, the fire chief, police officers and firefighters.
According to the city’s ordinances, Safety-Service Director Bill Rains said only one employee is required to live within the city limits.
“The only person who has to live in the city limits is the safety-service director,” Rains said.
Rains mentioned if this person decided they wanted to move out of the city limits, then he or she could talk to councilors and an ordinance adopted.
The same is not true for the police and fire chiefs and police officers and firefighters.
“We encourage our supervisors to live in town, but there is no way we can control that,” Rains said of supervisors living outside the city limits.
He said this state law happened a couple of years ago after a Supreme Court ruling, where the mandate control was taken away.
He noted some municipalities have a distance radius of where their supervisors and village employees can work.
Waynesfield Police Chief Nathan Motter currently resides in the village of Waynesfield, but he said he has considered moving just outside of village limits.
“I looked at potentially relocating outside the village, and with the feedback from the mayor and council, it appears that it would not be an issue,” Motter said. “I would prefer to live outside of the village, with the amount of traffic at my house makes it almost like a second police station.”
He said this causes an issues with his young children at home.
The Waynesfield police chief prior to Motter, Lee Zeigler, lived approximately five miles north of the village, outside of village limits, and he continued to live there his first few years as chief, and he eventually moved into the village limits after finding a property.
Botkins Police Chief Tom Glass resides in the village of Botkins, but part-time Buckland Police Chief Randy Trayer does not live within the village of Buckland.