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Barr project forum scheduled

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At their Aug. 15 meeting, members of Village Council agreed to hold a public hearing on the Planned Unit Development, or PUD, request from Home, Inc. to build senior apartments on the Barr property downtown at Council’s Sept. 19 meeting.

At the meeting Council members emphasized that they were not discussing whether or not to approve the Home, Inc. proposal to build 37 apartments for income-qualified seniors on the Barr lot. Rather, they were approving a process for the project, and will consider whether to give partial approval of the project at their Sept. 19 public forum.

Specifically, at that meeting, Council will decide whether to approve the density of the proposed project, which includes a few more apartments — 37 compared to 34 — than a previously considered project proposed by Friends Care Community. Then, if the project receives the financial backing to move ahead, it will later come back to Council for overall approval.

While the two-step process is unusual, it is necessary because Home, Inc., which is partnering on the project with the Buckeye Community Hope Foundation, needs to secure financing in order to pay for the detailed engineering and architectural work required for a preliminary plan, according to a memo to Council from Village Manager Mark Cundiff. The project’s financing is contingent on being awarded federal tax credits, which is a highly competitive process in which Home, Inc. stands a better chance to receive the tax credits if it has already received zoning approval from the Village. So, according to Cundiff, Village staff devised this two-stage process to initially consider whether to give the proposal zoning approval, then consider the complete project after Home, Inc. completes the engineering and architectural work needed.

Earlier this month, the Home, Inc. project received initial approval for its PUD application from Planning Commission, which then sent the request on to Council.

At the Aug. 15 Council meeting, Karen Wintrow raised questions about the Barr property project, including whether the density of the project is backed up by demographic studies showing the need for 37 affordable senior apartments, aesthetic issues and whether sustainability practices will be utilized. She also questioned if Council was giving away its most significant negotiating tool if it approves the project’s density before considering other issues.

“It’s good to get these questions on the table,” Council President Judith Hempfling said in response, although Council members agreed not to address the issues until the Sept. 19 meeting.

Lori Askeland, who is Council’s representative on Planning Commission, expressed her support for the overall project, even though it may not be perfect.

“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” Askeland said, stating that the project will involve balancing a variety of needs and concerns.

In other Council business:

• Little Art Theatre Executive Director Jenny Cowperthwaite-Ruka and board members Maureen Lynch and Kipra Heermann addressed Council regarding the theater’s application for a liquor license, which Council heard at its last meeting, along with Police Chief John Grote’s approval. However, at that meeting the request was described as for a one-time event, and the theater is actually applying for permission to serve beer and wine on an on-going basis, Cowperthwaite-Ruka said.

Theater leaders made the request because to keep its doors open, the theater must raise about $50,000 yearly, and they would like to raise revenues rather than depend solely on donations, Cowperthwaite-Ruka said. Also, customers have requested beer and wine, and the theater’s main competitor, the Neon Theater in Dayton, does serve them.

The permit that Little Art applied for falls under a specific catagory of nonprofits and arts organizations, and is not affected by other liquor permits in the village. The paperwork for the permit has gone through state channels, and the theater board is now waiting on official approval, according to Cowperthwaite-Ruka.

• Council unanimously approved a resolution for a loan to The Antioch Company for rehabbing its current office space to make it amenable to smaller businesses. The loan came in response to the need of e-Health Data Solutions for a new space to locate its growing business. e-Health Data Solutions will soon move to the Antioch Company site.

• Council unanimously approved a resolution that provides a 2 percent annual wage increase for certain Village employees, retroactive to the beginning of July. During its normal budget process at the beginning of 2011, the budget did not contain any wage increases, as the fate of the Village property tax levy was unknown. Since it passed, Cundiff at Council’s last meeting requested the raise for employees, which is in line with other Greene County municipalities. The raise does not affect salaried workers such as Cundiff.

• Council unanimously approved two resolutions that consent to the annexation of land in the Center for Business and Education that is currently owned by Community Resources. The Village needed to annex the land in order to build infrastructure for the CBE.

• Council approved the first reading of a supplemental appropriation ordinance in order to reimburse Flatter Hereford Farms $2,951 that the farm spent for fertilizer applied to the Glass Farm, which was formerly farmed. The Village has since broken its contract with the Flatter farm in order to locate a solar farm on the Glass Farm site.


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