Village Council

Village to lease Stutzman property

Village Council is seeking ideas for the use of 20 acres of Village-owned land on U.S. 68 north of town, a plot that formerly housed Stutzman’s Gardening and Landscaping Center.

At Council’s Dec. 7 meeting, Village Manager Mark Cundiff reported that formal lease termination proceedings have begun, and that business owner Gary Stutzman has until the end of December to vacate the property. The longtime Yellow Springs landscaping business has been operating at that location since 1985.

In a News article last April, Stutzman said he had invested about $200,000 in the property, largely through adding infrastructure and gravel roads. He had also added eight greenhouses and built a permanent structure on the land.

Last spring Stutzman was given a deadline for vacating the property after many months of delinquent rental payments, which are about $400 monthly. That deadline was dropped after a group of current and former Stutzman employees organized to work with him to keep the business afloat.

In an interview this week, Cundiff said that, while Stutzman remained current with rent payments, he had not responded to a request from Council many months ago for a plan regarding how he planned to keep current with rent over the winter months. Stutzman’s lease is being terminated due to his not responding to Council’s request for a plan, Cundiff said.

In a written report to Council, Cundiff stated that the Village appears to have three options regarding the property: it could be sold, rented, or no action could be taken.

Selling the property offers the advantage of both disposing of the property and receiving additional revenues, but the disadvantage of losing control of the property, Cundiff wrote. Renting the property offers continued control over its use, although it would not relieve the Village of responsibility for upkeep. And doing nothing would, while avoiding administrative costs, also prevent the village from benefiting from productive use of the land.

Council members seemed most interested in renting the property at this time.

“At this point I don’t want to consider selling, and it’s too valuable a resource to do nothing,” Karen Wintrow said. “We need to put the property back into use for the community.”

Discussion of potential uses initially focused on seeking other gardening businesses for the property, a strategy encouraged by villager Joan Edwards, who said that, “Nice landscaping has been done there. I’d like to see the Village retain the property and use it for something of a similar ilk.”

However, Council members also stated that they did not want to limit possible uses. Consequently, they requested that Cundiff compose a Request for Proposal, or RFP, that is open-ended in terms of potential use of the land. The RFP will probably be ready for approval at Council’s first meeting in January, Cundiff said. Persons interested in offering ideas may also contact Cundiff at his office at 767-1279, or e-mail mcundiff {at} yso(.)com

In other Council business:

• Council tabled until its next meeting a request from Greene Metropolitan Housing Authority Executive Director Susan Stiles that the Village grant tax-exempt status to the Greene Met housing project on Corry Street and the corner of Dayton and Winter Streets. The apartments, called the Yellow Springs Village Greene, contain 15 units on Corry Street and two on Dayton and Winter. Taxes for the property are currently about $21,000 per year.

The request was precipitated by a drop in Greene Met income, according to Stiles, who said that Greene Met revenues in Yellow Springs were down $13,000 this year due to a decline in residents’ income. Most residents have income less than 50 percent of the median income, she said. Due to the decline in revenue, Greene Met is unable to do needed upkeep on the apartments, Stiles said.

While Council members seemed favorable to the tax-exemption, Wintrow stated that the Yellow Springs schools should be alerted before any action is taken, since the schools receive a substantial percentage of the property tax. Other Council members agreed to a short delay, but emphasized their support for the request.

“Affordability in the village is one of our goals,” Rick Walkey said. “This fits in.”

In an interview this week, Cundiff stated that it appears that Council does not need to approve Greene Met applying for tax-exempt status, and it only needs to be alerted by that agency that it has made the application. However, discussion on the issue will continue at Council’s next meeting.

• Council members declined to fund a local time-banking project, having been advised by Village Solicitor John Chambers not to do so. However, all Council members stated their support for the project, and Council agreed to write a letter of support for project organizers to facilitate their attempts to raise money elsewhere. Time-banking is a bartering system in which people agree to donate goods or services, and all donations are considered of equal value.

• During citizens concerns, villager Rick Donahoe stated his concern regarding plans that Dayton-Yellow Springs Road will be widened to accommodate a left-turn lane into the Center for Business and Education.

“To my way of thinking, that would have a profound effect on the entry to the village,” he said, stating that he worried that “it will be something we wake up one morning and it’s done.”

According to Cundiff, a consulting engineer is currently putting together three alternative alignments for road accessibility to the CBE, although he stated all three include both a Dayton Yellow Springs Road and an East Enon Road entrance. The alternatives would next be presented to the Village Planning Commission and then to Village Council, he said.

Council members agreed to take up the concern at an upcoming meeting with Community Resources, which has developed the CBE. That public meeting is scheduled to take place on Jan. 13.

• Council tabled the first reading of a contract signing on to two AMP hydro electric projects due to a lack of clarity in the amount of base power the projects would provide.

• Council approved 4–0, with Wintrow abstaining, a change to an ordinance that allows two-way metering, which would allow villagers to put extra energy back into the Village grid. The move had been recommended by the Village Energy Task Force. Council members expressed concern over a lack of clarity regarding the change, but felt they could go ahead with the first reading, since the needed information can be provided before the second, or final, reading.

• Council discussed the ongoing search for a new clerk of Council, to replace longtime Clerk Deborah Benning, who died last month. More than 150 applications have been received, according to Cundiff.

• Council approved the renewal of the Village health insurance and dental policies for employees.

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