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Nonstop, YSKP seek space

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Village Planning Commission held a lengthy public hearing on Monday, Sept. 8, to consider whether to permit the Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute to use the home at 113 East Davis Street for administrative office space. After hearing from a portion of the 35 Nonstop supporters in the room and several neighbors who opposed the use because of excessive noise and traffic, plan board members asked both parties to use Village Mediation to reach consensus on an appropriate use of the property and return to plan board in 30 days with a proposal. In the meantime, planners imposed a “friendly” condition that restricts the Nonstop hours of operation from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., with up to two people staying later than that if necessary.

Plan board will meet again on Wednesday, Oct. 1, at 7 p.m. to continue to deliberate on the issue.

Just after the hearing ended and most participants left the room, Nonstop faculty member Chris Hill landed on a potential solution to address most of the Davis Street neighbors’ concerns. YS Kids Playhouse representative Roger Beal was inquiring about permitted uses in the light industrial zone where Millworks is located on North Walnut Street for small group rehearsal space, set construction and costume and set materials storage. Like the Nonstop faculty and staff, YSKP found itself without a home when Antioch University closed the Antioch College campus in June and wanted plan board’s assurance that their activities fell under permitted uses for the Millwork’s district.

Planners agreed that as long as no dress rehearsals or performances would take place in the space, as theaters are prohibited in a light industrial district, that the listed activities were a principally permitted use in that area. So when Hill then asked if Nonstop’s administrative activities, which are now being conducted in the Davis Street house, would also be a permitted use at the Millworks property, planners agreed, and Hill said Nonstop would consider moving some of the activity from Davis Street to Millworks.

Nonstop came to plan board to apply for a conditional use permit for its office space at 113 East Davis Street, located in a residence C district. Seven support staff members, including recruitment, business and the information technology specialist, are located in the house, which Nonstop representatives say they may only need for one year. The six off-street parking spaces required by code for this particular use of the house are provided by the other property at 716 Xenia Avenue that Nonstop also leases for office space.

Nonstop moved into the house last month in a rush to prepare for its first day of classes, which began on Monday. Because negotiations between Antioch College alumni and Antioch University to win independence for the college faltered in June, Nonstop personnel only recently learned they would need facilities off campus to operate. The 26 faculty members and 13 staff members have been working day and night “nonstop,” participants said at the meeting, to get their institute up and running.

The house at Davis Street has been a hub of activity for the Nonstop IT staff, who received a large shipment of donated computers and software equipment from Lexus Nexus in mid-August and who have been working until the early morning hours to set up its computing network and design the school’s Web site, IT staffer Tim Noble said at the meeting. Two large group meetings were held in the front yard of the house in August, and vehicles have been pulling in and out of the spaces in front of and across the street from the house in an effort to furnish the space and coordinate the staff members inside, according to Nonstop members, who have tried to accommodate their neighbors especially in the event of a larger gathering, Nonstop faculty member Jill Becker said.

But two of the neighbors who both recently moved into town and purchased the homes on either side of the Nonstop house expressed dismay over what they perceived as excessive noise, traffic and “round the clock activity” that has disturbed the peaceful residential area they thought they moved to. Both neighbors John and Martha Dever and Michael Cooney have babies and/or young children and feel that the night classes scheduled at the Nonstop house and the volume of people that have been coming and going will threaten not only the safety and the peaceful atmosphere of the neighborhood but also the property value of the homes they invested in.

All three homes on Davis Street are located right next to the public library and parking lot, and across the street from both the Anthrotech business and the public Dharma Center. And it has only been in the last few years, since Antioch College’s enrollment dropped significantly, that Davis Street could possibly be called a “quiet neighborhood,” Antioch alumnus Michael Jones said. If the college were to thrive again at its Livermore Street campus, as many in town hope it does to maintain the village’s economic and cultural vitality, then Davis Street would again be the lively thoroughfare it has historically been for students running between campus and the downtown area at all hours of the day and night, he said.

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