10 Ways to help your community in 30 minutes or less

Written by Hilary Hamblin http://powertochange.com

Most of us have little time to think about volunteering for community projects. But busy schedules do not mean we have to write off community involvement completely. In thirty minutes or less, anyone can make a difference in the community.

Check out the following ideas for ways to help your community in the midst of your everyday activities.

  1. Take a garbage bag while walking through the neighborhood. Pick up any litter along the way. As a by-product, you can get some exercise built into your day.
  2. Shop with locally owned businesses, saving time and money. Many locally owned businesses offer services like free gift-wrapping and delivery. And a percentage of your sales taxes go directly to the local community.
  3. Find positive aspects of your community share with other people. A positive image encourages residents to shop locally, increases the chance new businesses will open in the area and promotes growth.
  4. Attend a local festival or other event. Many have free admission and activities. Most festivals are actually fundraisers for non-profit organizations who make their money through sponsorships. Since sponsors look at attendance numbers to decide how much to give, your family can add to the number and help increase what businesses give next year.
  5. Write a letter to local elected officials encouraging them for making good decisions for the community. People work harder when they know they are appreciated. And elected officials seldom hear enough encouraging words.
  6. Put a potted plant on your front porch. When your home looks spruced up, it makes the whole neighborhood and the community to look better as well.
  7. Take left over dinner to an elderly neighbor. If you have a family of four, cook enough dinner for five one night and deliver a plate to the widow next door. Your delivery helps you to get to know your neighbors better. And police promote knowing your neighbors as the best way to fight neighborhood crime.
  8. Look for opportunities to give in your community. Many schools collect items, such as like canned foods, old coats, toys and eyeglasses, for less fortunate families.
  9. Vote. While the Presidential election comes around only once every four years, elections happen every year. Check out the candidates for local and state elections.
  10. Encourage your employer to sponsor local events, join a civic organization or allow employees to volunteer during work hours. Many businesses have volunteer programs to reward employees for volunteering. Local news media often cover large volunteer events and having employee representation gives businesses extra publicity.

By doing our part to contribute to the community, we add people to our circle of influence and gain opportunities to build relationships with our neighbours. We also demonstrate what it means to be a good citizen to our children.

After the fire

This is an editorial published in the Paulding County Progress on Wednesday, April 18:

It’s time to clean up the brick pile

It has been over 90 days since a fire took down the Hotel Barnes. I have watched as the owners of the buildings and businesses around the hotel have worked to restore their lives. They have put in new windows, worked on the roofs and now a beautiful new facing has been installed on the back of the Zumba building. Around the square, I have seen similar work taking place. It’s nice to see people taking pride in the community.

During this repair phase, I have watched as workers tried to maneuver around the pile of rubble left from the hotel. I have waited patiently for three months to see what would be done to clean up this unsightly mess. My patience is running thin. I have seen similar situations in other towns be resolved in a very short period of time. I would appreciate it if someone from the Village of Paulding could explain to the residents of Paulding why this hasn’t been cleaned up and what is your timeline for getting it done. The public is asking questions. The Paulding Chamber has been approached by business people saying they want the rubble cleaned up NOW.

The idea that you are worried about being sued is nonsense. Enforce your ordinances! This is a health and safety issue. It’s a haven for rats. Your fence is not keeping out anyone and is itself an eyesore. The village needs to take the lead in getting this mess cleaned up instead of watching and hoping for it to go away. Please take a leadership role and take pride in this town as others are trying to do. It is your job.

– Doug Nutter, Publisher

It should be noted that it’s been 94 days (and counting) since the fire occurred on Jan. 15.

How zoning works, Paulding has zoning, but is it working for the benefit of the community?

From Ohio State University Fact Sheet: Zoning CDFS-1265-99

Part 2 of 2

The Zoning Triangle: Commission, BZA, and Inspector

Three basic units administer zoning – the zoning commission, the board of zoning appeals (BZA), and the zoning inspector. They depend on one another to make sure zoning is fair and effective in a community.

Zoning Commission

In unincorporated areas, the zoning commission is made up of five citizens, per the ORC. In charter communities, the planning commission may carry out the zoning commission duties and may have a different membership, often defined by the charter. The commission is an advisory group, and zoning decisions may be overruled by unanimous agreement of the local legislative body (township trustees, county commissioners, or city council).

The basic duties of the zoning commission are preparing the zoning text and map, holding public hearings, initiating zoning amendments, and making formal recommendations on all amendments.

Text and Map The text is the written part of the zoning resolution. Typically, the text covers definitions, enforcement, administration, exceptions, rezoning, outlines of the different districts, parking, signage, mobile home parks, floodplains, provisions for the zoning maps, and other features. Zoning districts are generally classified into residential, industrial, commercial, and agricultural districts although they often allow districts that permit a blend of uses. The zoning map is drawn up to show which areas are classified in which district.

Adoption of zoning regulations by a community does not mean, however, that the previously stated purposes will be fulfilled. First of all, the zoning text must appropriately address the particular needs of the community. It must have the proper balance of flexibility and firmness. Also, the zoning text and map must be kept up-to-date. Typically, they should be updated every five years so the process can reflect changing community priorities and realities of growth.

Zoning Amendments Amendments are extremely important to the zoning process. An amendment, or rezoning, is a change in the zoning map or text. Zoning regulations must be flexible to allow the community to be responsive to the need for legitimate changes. The amendment process enables the community to monitor changes and encourage those that enhance the community. It also allows the public a voice in changing zoning regulations. In rapid growth areas, requests for amendments are very common and often controversial, because they may cause changes in traffic flow, runoff, aesthetics, noise, and other factors that may affect surrounding property.

Amendments are initiated in the following ways – adoption of a motion by the zoning commission; adoption of a resolution by the county commissioners, township trustees, or city council; the filing of an application by at least one owner or lessee of property within the area proposed to be changed or affected by the amendment.

Zoning Inspector

The zoning inspector is responsible for the day-to-day administration and enforcement of the zoning regulations. He/she is appointed by the township trustees, county commissioners (in the case of county zoning), or the municipal legislative or administrative body.

The inspector’s duties involve reviewing applications for zoning permits, conducting on-site inspections, investigating violations, maintaining records of nonconforming uses, maintaining up-to-date text and map, and proposing amendments. In zoned areas, all new construction and many additions and other changes in property must receive a zoning permit from the inspector. He/she must have a thorough knowledge of the zoning text and map and use these as a basis for granting permits and citing violations.

Board of Zoning Appeals

The board of zoning appeals (BZA) is the “judicial branch” of zoning administration. In unincorporated areas, the board of zoning appeals is made up of five local residents. Municipal BZAs are similar. If a person wants to do something with his/her property that is not specifically allowed in the zoning regulations, that person may ask for a conditional use or a variance, depending on the circumstances. Both are obtained through the BZA.

Both variances and conditional uses require a hearing from the BZA. However, variances are true exceptions to the zoning resolution, while conditional uses are allowed changes that require a hearing. Municipalities may modify the roles of BZAs. Zoning officials must judiciously monitor these change processes if zoning is to serve its true purpose in a community. Allowing arbitrary and inconsistent changes can weaken the integrity of the regulations and trigger land-use conflicts, loss of property values, and lawsuits.

Variances A more technical definition of a variance is a modification of the strict terms of the zoning regulations where such modification will not be contrary to the public interest and where, owing to conditions peculiar to the property and not the result of the applicant, a literal enforcement of the regulations would result in unnecessary and undue hardship.

If a person applies for a zoning permit and the zoning inspector denies it, he/she may request a variance (or appeal the decision of the inspector). If, due to special conditions, the literal enforcement of the ordinance causes an individual unnecessary hardship, a variance can be granted. A BZA should have standards against which it judges every variance and conditional-use request in order keep decisions consistent and defensible.

Conditional Uses Conditional uses are those that are perfectly appropriate for a district but require a hearing to determine that they will not have adverse effects as defined by the conditional-use standards in the resolution. They require approval of the BZA. For example, in a commercial district, a restaurant may be a permitted use, but a drive-through restaurant may be a conditional use.

How can I be a better neighbor?

Good neighbors are usually unappreciated, but that doesn’t mean that they’re unnoticed. They are usually just taken for granted. People usually don’t comment that they have a good neighbor, but they will comment when they have a bad one, or when they have a neighbor that doesn’t socialize. Are you a good neighbor or a bad neighbor? Do your neighbors comment on your behavior in a good or a bad way? Do you want to change how they look at you? Keep reading for tips on being a better neighbor.

First of all, what makes a bad neighbor? Loud music, blaring television sets, keeping odd hours, driving too fast, and not keeping a respectable lawn are some of the biggest things that bother other neighbors. But those are obvious faults. What else is cause for concern? Leaving trash cans at the curb for days after garbage pickup, not bringing in your paper, leaving on your outside lights all day long, and letting your dog go to the bathroom on your front lawn and not cleaning it up. Those points are all self explanatory and easy to stay away from doing.

Secondly, what makes a good neighbor? A nice lawn, quiet music, no loud parties, and driving at the speed limit or below if there are children in the neighborhood. Those are obviously things that other neighbors appreciate. What else makes them smile in your direction? Being helpful is probably the biggest thing that neighbors appreciate. When you see that your neighbor’s lawn is overfull of leaves and one of your neighbors is outside trying to single handedly rake them up, offer to lend a hand. When a new neighbor moves in, offer to help unload the truck or unpack the boxes. A neighbor just had a baby? Offer to make a meal one night so the new parents aren’t so stressed out. Those are also somewhat obvious tips. What else would make a good neighbor? If your neighbor hasn’t brought in his garbage cans yet, roll them back into his yard. When you’re outside make sure to smile and wave at your other neighbors. Start a conversion if you like. These are things that other neighbors love.

Lastly, what can you do to make new neighbors feel at home? Besides helping with moving in, be sure to introduce yourselves to the new neighbors. Also, find out if they have kids and if they do, tell them where all the children in the neighborhood live. Tell them where the good places to eat are and where the good places to shop are. If possible, take a dessert or a plate of cookies to make them feel welcome. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you could have a barbecue or a dinner party to introduce the new neighbors to everyone else in the neighborhood.

It is not too hard to be a good neighbor or a better neighbor. It also isn’t very hard to welcome a new neighbor. After all, don’t you want your neighbors to be good neighbors?

How do we make Paulding, Ohio, a better place to live?

Part 1 of 2


Coordination
Working together, residents, neighborhoods, government, schools, churches, businesses, clubs, and organizations can accomplish much more than they can when they work separately. Paulding has many hardworking, positive, bright and talented people. Different groups have different resources and skills, as well as different limitations. If we all have a common objective of improving our community, we can find ways to accomplish this faster and more effectively when we work together.

Communication
In order to coordinate the efforts of all of the individuals, groups, and organizations in Paulding, we need to communicate. While the best method would be to meet face to face, we can use all available methods, such as the phone, mail, web forums, texting or e-mail. We have to be willing to work together, and to listen to the goals and objectives of our neighbors.

Volunteers
Paulding has no shortage of people who are willing to give their time and expertise to help make their home town a better place to live. While some improvement projects are clearly in the domain of professional contractors or the Village of Paulding, many other improvements can be done with volunteer help only. Certainly, volunteer efforts are far more cost effective than professional or municipal improvement or maintenance efforts.

So where do we get these volunteers? Good question! Churches and other charitable groups are always willing to help make Paulding better for everyone. High school students who want to go on to college need community service credit to put on their applications. If we coordinate things properly, and communicate effectively, we can get people together to accomplish great things.

In Part 2: What is needed, and what can we do?

Welcome to the Paulding Community Blog

The purpose of Paulding Community Blog is to provide a forum for community discussion on concerns of the residents of Paulding, Ohio. The comments should be based on fact, not hyperbole, and be constructive in nature. Comments should be made using appropriate language; be respectful of others’ feelings.

Also, please comment on the positive aspects of Paulding, schools, parks, organizations, etc.  You may also post organizational events and meeting dates.

I am concerned about where we are as a community. I would like to promote an agenda to improve the quality of life of our community. This is an aggressive agenda that will require cooperation from government agencies and community organizations as well as the general population.

Please share  any comments, concerns or questions. You can sign up at right to follow this blog and receive updates.

Remember this word: PRIDE. You will see it as a common thread as we proceed through this agenda to create a more vibrant and sustainable community.

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