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Village Station gets approval

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At its April 12 meeting Village Planning Commission renewed a conditional use permit for a commercial and residential development at 150 Railroad Street at the corner of Dayton Street that had been dormant for nearly three years. Plan board had approved the permit for the project known as Village Station in October 2007, but due to lack of financing options, developers Matthew Arnovitz and Ted Donnell had not been able to pursue their project. When an opportunity arose this spring, the property owners felt it was the right one to take.

“We were all set to execute leases [in 2008] when the college closed,” Arnovitz said of the original plan after Monday’s meeting. Then the economy went sour, and in 2009 the Yellow Springs Center for the Arts group purchased an option on the property, and was considering building a performing arts center there. After nearly a year, the group contacted Arnovitz in February to withdraw its option. And coincidentally, several prospective tenants “helped us look at the economic viability and tie down financing,” to restart the original Village Station project, Arnovitz said.

The plans for Village Station have changed minimally since the original concept. The plan includes on the east side toward Dayton Street two one-story buildings (formerly planned as two stories) for business and retail use, and on the west end three three-story buildings slated for condominiums. The plan also includes an entrance on the south end of the property off of Dayton Street, which connects through a parking lot on the property to Railroad Street and will be officially designated as the new Railroad Street.

Currently, Arnovitz and Donnell plan to use the opportunity to finance the construction of one of the commercial buildings toward the west end of the plat and one patio home toward the east end of the plat. The partners are working with Birch III residential developer Doug Eastham to manage construction and bidding in hopes of completing both buildings by the fall, Arnovitz said.

During Planning Commission’s public hearing on Monday, several neighbors who live just west of the proposed plat voiced concerns about the potential for the three-story building (which is allowed by Village code to rise 35 feet) to block their solar gain. According to neighbor Lindie Keaton, with a 35-foot building height, the solar gain she relies on as the primary heat source for her energy efficient house would be blocked from Nov. 10 to early February and would certainly compromise the performance of a home that currently uses one-third the gas and one-fourth the electricity of a conventional home.

Neighbors Beth and Andy Holyoke, who built Keaton’s home, also expressed concern that the Village should have a wider discussion about the policies that govern rights to solar access within every zoning district of Yellow Springs.

The planners imposed as a condition on the permit that the two parties would compromise to reach a solution to the problem, which Donnell said he was aware of and could likely accommodate by reversing the angle of a roof. Planners also reimposed two older conditions that no more than 50 percent of the development would include residences on the ground floor, and that it would provide at least one parking space for each residence and one space per 300 feet of retail space.

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