December 18, 2003

 

Council postpones decision supporting housing effort

What appeared to be a straightforward resolution asking Village Council for support for an application seeking state funding for an affordable housing project got complicated on Monday when Council postponed a vote in order to give the public more time to comment on the issue.

Council unanimously agreed at its meeting Dec. 15 to table the resolution and hold a formal public hearing on the measure at its next meeting, Jan 5.

The basis of the resolution is an effort by Yellow Springs Home, Inc., a nonprofit community land trust, to build or renovate up to 11 homes in the next two years. Home, Inc. has options to buy three properties, one of which has a house on it, has purchased a house it will renovate, and is working with a developer to secure six lots on which to build affordable homes.

Home, Inc. is planning to apply for funding from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency to cover the cost of the land on which the houses would be located. The organization asked Council to pass a resolution extending its “full support” to Home, Inc. for this effort.

Marianne MacQueen, the director of Home, Inc., told Council that the housing agency awards funding on a competitive basis, and support in the form of a resolution passed by a local municipality carries the most weight in the agency’s point system. Asking for such support from municipal governments is typical, MacQueen said.

Council president Tony Arnett said that Home, Inc.’s request for support is similar to an effort the Village made recently when it asked community organizations for support of several grant applications the Village was preparing.

If Council offers its support for Home, Inc.’s effort, the Village would not incur any costs, nor would it be waiving its normal zoning oversight, MacQueen said.

Council members said that they needed more information and wanted to give the public a chance to comment on the resolution before putting the measure up for a vote. Council is not required to hold a public hearing before voting on a resolution, though Council generally takes public comment on resolutions. Council is required to hold a public hearing on ordinances.

Council member Mary Alexander was the first to propose the hearing, saying that she wanted to have public input on the resolution before voting on it. “I have no objection to the project,” she said, but “the village itself has to know more about it.”

Holding a hearing “would give the public an opportunity to know about what’s going on in the village,” she said.

Alexander and Council member Jocelyn Hardman also said that they wanted a copy of Home, Inc.’s application. “I’d like to know what I’m attaching my name to,” Alexander said.

After the meeting, Ilse Tebbetts, secretary of the Home, Inc. board, said, “We’re an organization which is trying to do some good for the village and all we want is some support for our efforts, and I trust we’ll get that support.”

* * *

In other Council business:

• Alexander presented a report on revising the moribund Library Commission, which has not formally met in several years. Alexander’s report served as a counterproposal to a recommendation by former Council member Joan Horn to disband the commission.

Alexander recommended that the commission meet twice a year, and that Council’s liaison to the commission be responsible for organizing the group’s first meeting of the year. She also recommended that Council increase the commission members’ terms.

Council indicated that it agreed with Alexander’s proposal and asked her to prepare an ordinance ratifying her suggestions.

• Council unanimously approved the second reading of an ordinance changing the Village’s health insurance plan to partially offset an increase in insurance costs. The ordinance allows the Village to enter into a new plan with its insurance company, Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield. The new plan increases employees’ co-pays for office visits and would require staffers to pay deductibles for hospital visits.

Employees may still receive the former level of coverage if they agree to pay the difference between the two insurance plans.

The Village’s health insurance costs were expected to rise 37 percent under the old plan. The Village should save $37,000 with the new package, Village Manager Rob Hillard said, though the Village’s health care costs are still expected to increase 23 percent.

• Council unanimously approved a resolution accepting a settlement between the Village and 10 other municipal electricity providers and Dayton Power & Light. The deal settles a disagreement the municipalities, called the Western Area Service Group, and DP&L over the company’s plan to join a regional transportation organization, which would control power distribution on a regional basis.

The municipalities complained to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that DP&L’s deal would increase costs to the 11 communities, Hillard said. Under the settlement, the Village is expected to receive $30,000 a year from DP&L if the company joins the regional organization, Hillard said.

• Council unanimously approved a resolution changing sections 1226.11 and 1226.12 of the Zoning Code to give the Village zoning administrator the authority to approve minor subdivisions under certain conditions.

• Council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the Village to purchase a new police cruiser for $21,719. The new car is included in the 2003 Village budget.

• Mayor David Foubert officially swore in the new Village treasurer, Charlotte Collins, and the new police chief, Carl Bush. Bush was joined by his son, Jared, and his daughter, Brittany, two nephews, Andrew and Christopher Timmons, and his ex-wife, Kristen Bush.

• Hillard reported that the Greene County Park District advisory board is seeking someone to fill an opening on the panel. Anyone interesting in serving should contact Hillard at 767-1279 or [email protected]

Council is accepting applications to serve on the Environmental Commission. To apply, send a letter of interest to the clerk of Council, Deborah Benning, 100 Dayton Street, or [email protected]

— Robert Mihalek