May 8, 2003
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Council commits money for commerce park effort

Village Council agreed on Monday to provide more than $200,000 in Village funds as seed money in the effort to get a commerce park built in town, and approved a development agreement with Community Resources, the local group working with the Village and the Miami Township trustees on the commerce park initiative, to secure property for a development site.

The funds would come from the Village Economic Development Revolving Loan Fund, which has been used sparingly in recent years to fund low and moderate income jobs to Yellow Springs businesses. The Village has a total of $312,000 available in the loan fund.

Most of the money — up to $200,000 — would be available for Community Resources, a volunteer-run community improvement corporation, to secure land, or an option to purchase property, for a development. The funds would not be allocated to Community Resources in one lump sum. Instead, the group would use the money as it was needed. Community Resources, for instance, might try to purchase land incrementally in blocks of 5 to 10 acres, Ellen Hoover, the president of Community Resources, told Council on Monday.

Another $11,000 would be used to pay for a part-time administrator, as well as legal and marketing costs.

Hoover said in an interview on Tuesday that Community Resources hopes to secure property by September. “We’ve made an awful lot of progress in an awful lot of areas,” she said.

At its meeting May 5, Council approved 4–0 both the second reading of an ordinance amending the administrative guidelines for the loan fund, which allowed Council to make the funds available to Community Resources, and a resolution authorizing the Village to enter into the development agreement with the community improvement corporation. Council member Joan Horn was absent.

Council also said that it would be willing to provide more money from the loan fund, if it was needed. Council members said that they wanted to keep some money in the fund so the Village would have some money available for new business loans.

Council member George Pitstick said that the Village had to fund the park initiative in order to make it successful. He also said that the business park is “something that Yellow Springs really needs.”

After the meeting, Hoover said Community Resources appreciated that Council quickly approved the agreement, which was first discussed by Council in February. “Community Resources is really pleased with the support Council has given with this project,” she said. “We’re moving really quickly to make this happen.”

Council wants Community Resources to spearhead the effort to get a commerce park built in town, because, Council members have said, the Village should not be in the development or real estate business. The agreement “takes the Village out of the development process,” Pitstick said, adding that groups like Community Resources have the expertise to work with developers. “We are relying on them,” he said.

The development agreement and the ordinance amending the loan fund gives Community Resources the authority to use the Village funds to purchase land or options to buy the land located with the Cooperative Economic Development Agreement, or CEDA, which Council and the Miami Township trustees approved last year, and to promote the development of a park here. A list of five development activities attached to the agreement says that Community Resources will market the properties to developers and “actively and diligently pursue and negotiate” the sale of the land.

The agreement with Community Resources says that the group will pay back the Village for funds used to purchase land. If Community Resources purchases an option on land that falls through, the group would not have to reimburse the Village, the agreement states.

The CEDA identifies two areas for commercial development: 46 acres of farmland at Dayton-Yellow Springs and East Enon Roads, which is owned by Vernay Laboratories, and almost 40 acres of farmland on the east side of East Enon, which is part of the Pitstick farm. However, since a member of the Pitstick family plans to build a house on the land, 32 acres of the Pitstick property is now available for this project. Both properties border the Village limits on the west and any land developed under the CEDA would be annexed into Yellow Springs.

Community Resources may be considering land not identified in the CEDA as a potential development site. Hoover told Council that the group has received initial appraisals on “three different properties,” though she declined to say what the appraisals were.

But in an interview Tuesday Hoover said that “some of the property” Community Resources has considered is land listed in the CEDA, but, some properties being discussed “might not” be owned by Vernay or the Pitsticks. She declined to elaborate.

Hoover told Council that Community Resources has started negotiations with one property owner, whom she did not name. On Tuesday, she said that she could not discuss the negotiations, explaining that it would be unfair to the property owner.

If Community Resources wants to develop land not listed in the CEDA, the agreement would have to be amended to include that property.

Community Resources will either try to buy land or options on property, or a combination of both. Hoover estimated that undeveloped farmland in the area costs $13,000 to $15,000 an acre.

The group, which has been involved in the commerce park initiative since 1999, would ideally like to develop 30 to 40 acres of land, Hoover said, because it would provide “the most flexibility.” Fewer than 20 acres would not be cost effective, she said.

Under the CEDA, both the Village and Miami Township would provide services to designated areas and receive tax and utility revenue from any developments arising from the pact. The Village could provide water and sewer service, police protection, street lighting and other Village services to annexed properties. The Township would provide fire and EMS protection, snow removal and some road maintenance.

The Village would receive income taxes and utility revenue from businesses in the annexed properties. The Township would receive property and real estate taxes equivalent to the amount of money the Township would have received if any of the properties had remained in Miami Township.

The agreement says Council and the trustees have to agree to provide to a developer any incentives, including tax abatements, that would affect the Township’s revenue from the CEDA.

—Robert Mihalek