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Diversity deemed critical for visioning

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Land plan change approved

At its July 20 meeting, Village Council approved 3–2 a wording change in the Village Comprehensive Plan that aims to allow maximum flexibility for Council to either approve or reject potential annexation requests.

The revised wording had been proposed by Council President Judith Hempfling, and discussed at several previous meetings. At Monday’s meeting, Hempfling, Lori Askeland and John Booth voted in favor of the change, and Karen Wintrow and Kathryn Van der Heiden voted against.

Hempfling had proposed the change after Council received a version of the plan that Planning Commission spent the last year revising. The planners revise the plan every five to seven years, and submit the revision for Council approval.

New in this revision were nine land use principles. Hempfling had stated that the wording of two of the principles seemed to invite development outside Village boundaries, and that those principles could narrow Council’s ability to say no to development. In previous meetings, Wintrow and Van der Heiden had disagreed, stating that changing the wording was unnecessary.

With the wording change that Council approved Monday night, the revised principles “leave the question (of annexation) open but does not direct or promote” development outside Village boundaries, Hempfling said.

A more detailed presentation of this discussion will be in next week’s News, along with other items of Council business on July 20.

At their July 20 meeting, members of Village Council approved the names of visioning steering committee members, but also urged organizers to try harder to find participants from the African-American community.

“I think it’s key to get more of a balance,” said Council President Judith Hempfling regarding the steering committee composition. Council was unanimous in approving the group.

The steering committee will play a critical role in the upcoming visioning process, consultant Jamie Green of the Columbus firm ACP, which will lead the effort, has stated. As well as making decisions regarding the process, members will be the public face of the project and as such will be instrumental in helping to recruit participants to the visioning effort, which will begin with the first of several public meetings in September.

Thirty-three names of members were presented to Council on Monday night. The group has been self-selecting, according to Dimi Reber of the visioning task force, and participants, who responded to ads and letters, are those who are willing to give the necessary time and commitment.

At Monday’s meeting, Hempfling expressed concern that only four out of the 33 steering committee members are African Americans. Council members have since the beginning of planning the process emphasized the need to be inclusive for a successful effort.

“To have such a small representation in a community that is concerned with diversity and loss of diversity” would negatively affect the visioning effort, Hempfling said.

Council member John Booth, who is African-American, agreed.

While people sometimes assume that Yellow Springs has few problems with racism, that is not necessarily accurate, Booth said.

“There are racial issues in the village,” he said. “There are different issues that African Americans deal with than others. If we don’t include their voice, it will be harder to get buy-in for the process.”

Council members agreed that they would approve the submitted names so that the group could move ahead, while at the same time trying to reach out and find more representatives from the African-American community. If a change in the group’s composition needs to be made later, that can happen, according to Reber, who said her research into other communities that have sponsored a visioning effort indicates that steering committees do sometimes need to be restructured.

“I don’t think we can get rigid about any part of the process,” she said.

Steering committee members are Ed Amrhein, Fred Bartenstein, Erica Bothwell, Seth Bothwell, Carl Bryan, Viki Church, Ted Donnell, Joan Edwards, Stephanie Elsass, John Hempfling, Ken Huber, Len Kramer, Pat Murphy, Patricia Olds, Guy Orr, Gina Paget, Roberta Perry, Anisa Qualls, Megan Quinn Bachman, Alan Raney, Dimi Reber, Matt Reed, Joe Robinson, Linda Rudawski, Kathy Sanders, Gerry Simms, Lamar Spracklen, John Struewing, Jerry Sutton, Kathryn Van der Heiden, Rick Walkey, Marianne Whelchel and Karen Wintrow.

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