A green tractor is parked in a gravel and mud lot in construction for self-storage units.
The Menards Self Storage construction on Walker Lake Road has not put up new units since June when the city issued a stop work order.

ONTARIO — Menards Self Storage construction on Walker Lake Road may soon continue after four months under a stop work order due to Environmental Protection Agency stormwater control violations.

The city issued the order shortly after council members granted a conditional use request for storage units in the business district.

Service-safety director Kris Knapp said the project managers did not construct any new units during that time and were instructed to fix erosion and sediment issues.

“We’ll get the documents back from our engineer and law director Medwid and I will review those, and be in contact soon,” he said.

Engineer Mark Rufener said city representatives have met with the project managers about erosion control measures.

“They were tracking mud into the neighbors’ yards and we realized they had a bunch of extra dirt on site that they had not accounted for,” he said. “Rather than truck it off, they started stockpiling it in various areas on the east side and west side … which was not part of the plan that was approved.

“However, I’m not 100-percent sure if we can really force them to deal with that dirt or not. The bigger issue tonight is whether they’re at the point where you can remove the stop work order.

“They have complied with the initial requirements. They’ve dealt with some of the drainage issues on the north side, not completely, but at least it’s close now.”

Contractors will still need final approval from city

Rufener said the Menards construction team has also laid down seed and straw in some areas to prevent further runoff. He said the city will send a to-do list to the project managers after lifting the stop work order.

“We can put that into an email saying stop work is lifted, but here are the conditions that need to be completed prior to final approval,” Rufener said.

Council President Eddie Gallo said he wants a contractor or project manager to come to the next council meeting on Nov. 15 to speak to neighbors and council face-to-face.

“I want them in front of me because two times they have told us they were going to be good neighbors, and two times, they have not kept their word,” Gallo said.

Law director Andrew Medwid said he will look over final approval conditions to make sure the city isn’t breaking the stop work order by putting additional provisions in it.

Council members talked about the storage container project with Walker Lake Road residents near Menards who spoke during public comment. 

Robin Vanerio, who also spoke at the June 21 and Aug. 16 city council meetings, said she is worried about a pile of dirt in the construction zone that has washed mud and debris into her yard before.

“I’m concerned about the natural flow of rainwater and what they’ve done with that big hill,” Vanerio said. “I’m just concerned that it’s not going to get fixed.”

Robin Vanerio at the Nov. 1 Ontario City Council meeting.

Troy Brayton is leading the Menards Self Storage project. He said the team will “pick up where we left off” when the stop work order is lifted and continue talking with city officials to ensure the project is compliant with city code.

“I’m not prepared to speak on much else before that happens,” he said.

Council also voted 5-1 to pass a new city ordinance limiting construction hours near residential homes to between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.

No one spoke during a public hearing about the ordinance.

The new ordinance applies to excavating, bricklaying and repair work that includes equipment that “would disturb the good peace and quiet of the community.”

None of this work can occur outside of the limiting hours within 1,000 feet of residences unless it is emergency work or approved by the mayor.

Violators will be fined $150 per offense.

Also in Wednesday’s meeting

  • Council members passed wages and salaries for non-union employees beginning in January 2024. It includes a $0.86 hourly raise for departmental clerks, a $1.04 hourly raise for department heads and payment rate raises for other office personnel depending on how long they have been employed at the city.
  • Council approved an agreement with the Ohio Department of Transportation to perform bridge rehabilitation on U.S. 30 under Home Road.
  • Knapp said the last day for resident leaf pickup is scheduled for Nov. 17, but may be extended depending on weather.
  • Knapp said the lowest bid for the Lexington-Springmill water line project was $100,000 less than expected. He said he would like to award a public works contract at the next council meeting.
  • Mayor Randy Hutchinson announced the Marshall Park Christmas tree lighting ceremony is scheduled for Nov. 30 at 5:30 p.m. The event will include hot chocolate, a visit from Santa and performances from local groups.

Ball State journalism alumna. Passionate about sharing stories, making good coffee and finding new podcasts. You can reach me at grace@richlandsource.com.