October 9, 2003



Take bold stand on business park

Village Council’s reaction last month to the idea of emphasizing environmentally friendly practices in a local commerce park was certainly disappointing. Council barely discussed the idea of sustainability as it approved the first of two readings of an ordinance creating a new zoning district for commerce parks last month. The lack of deep discussion, which has become the norm for this Council, makes it difficult to tell where Council stands on the concept of creating a commerce park here that includes green building standards and encourages its occupants to follow sustainable practices.

Even if Council does not want to include sustainable standards in the new zoning district, the “Mixed Commerce District,” Council should make clear whether it supports the general concept, which is supported by Community Resources, the private volunteer organization working with the Village on the commerce park effort. Council members can let the community know where they stand when they hold a second reading on the proposed zoning district at their next meeting, Oct. 20.

The proposed ordinance, which was written and recommended by the Village Planning Commission, would create a new zone that officials believe will offer more flexibility for a commerce park that would include a variety of businesses. The proposal says that the district would “promote environmentally conscious practices,” but, except for limiting or prohibiting noxious processes, it does not say how this would be accomplished. The majority of plan board members said that the Village Zoning Code was not the place to regulate environmental standards.

While Council did not spend much time discussing the proposal at a meeting last month, its members did make a few puzzling statements related to sustainability. Council member Denise Swinger, for instance, suggested that Community Resources could approach the idea later with potential developers. She was also cautious, however, saying that if too many restrictions are included in the park, businesses may not even consider coming here. Council president Tony Arnett said that sustainability needs to be defined before the concept is included in a park, though he certainly has been in a position to help in this effort.

Sustainable practices could be included in a commerce park by following the lead of Cy Tebbetts, the Planning Commission member who wants to trade promises to follow eco-friendly practices for financial incentives with developers and businesses. In addition, developers who specialize in such practices could be brought in to help build an environmentally friendly park.

Building a commerce park here will take bold vision and action, which Council has shown on several fronts so far: it has provided funds; it has approved a development agreement with the Miami Township trustees that could benefit the Village and Township governments; and it has made the commerce park effort a priority. But Council should not wait for others for definitions, or be afraid that sustainable requirements will turn some people away. Instead, Council should embrace the idea and prove that it can work to Yellow Springs’ advantage.

—Robert Mihalek