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Village Council— New law bans texting while driving

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At their April 2 meeting, Village Council members unanimously passed a new ordinance that would make it illegal to text while driving in Yellow Springs.

Council will take a second, and final vote on the ordinance at their next meeting April 16.

“Texting while driving is dangerous,” said Interim Village Manager Laura Curliss in an introduction to the ordinance. “It can lead to a loss of life.”

Earlier this year villager Jaye Drummond, who lost his 5-year-old daughter last summer in an accident caused by a driver who was texting, had requested that Council ban texting while driving in the village. Council had an initial discussion on the topic at their last meeting, after now-retired Police Chief John Grote recommended that the Village make texting while driving a secondary offense, meaning that police could not stop a driver solely because he or she was texting, but could cite the driver for texting if a stop was made for another, primary, offense. At that meeting, Grote said he had researched texting while driving bans in about 100 municipalities, and that the Yellow Springs proposal is modeled after one passed in Kettering. At the time, Council member Rick Walkey stated that the proposal did not go far enough.

The ordinance passed April 2 does make texting while driving a primary offense, meaning an officer can stop a driver for texting without observing any additional offense.

Council members passed the ordinance without discussion.

In other April 2 Council business:

• Council unanimously approved a new structure for 2012 fees to the Gaunt Park pool. The vote was the second, and final reading of the ordinance that was introduced at Council’s last meeting.

Pool fees for Village residents remain the same this year as last, according to Curliss, and swimming lessons at the pool also continue to be free for villagers. The fee structure adds a new category of fee for Township pool users, who will pay slightly more than villagers but less than other out-of-towners. The new fee category was added because Township residents, who previously swam at the pool for free, do not pay Village taxes, and therefore do not contribute to the pool upkeep as villagers do.

Other pool fee changes this year are a charge of $15 for swimming lessons for non-residents, and slightly higher fees for pool rentals. The final ordinance does not include a spectator fee of $1 for those attending Sea Dog swim meets, as was originally suggested. Sea Dog team sponsors objected to the fee, as other swim teams do not charge fees, but agreed that the team will pay for lifeguards during meets.

• Council unanimously approved an application to the Greene County Board of Commissioners for 2012 Community Development Block Grant funds for the Home, Inc. acquisition of four lots on Cemetery Street. The Home, Inc. project will add four affordable single-family homes to the Yellow Springs housing stock. The application seeks $80,000 for water and sewer line improvements for the project.

Yellow Springs has received significantly less in CDBG funds than surrounding communities, according to Curliss. For instance, in 2011 Cedarville and Spring Valley both received about $900,000 from the funds, while Yellow Springs received $87,000. The discrepancy is partly due to the higher median income in the village, Curliss said.

However, while the CDBG rules are complex, the Village could make itself more eligible for the funds by emphasizing how the Cemetery Street project will benefit populations that the CDBG grants are targeting, such as seniors, the handicapped and low income children, Curliss said.

• Council unanimously approved an ordinance that approves the editing and inclusion of certain ordinances and resolutions into the Village’s codified ordinances. The action is an annual activity to codify new ordinances approved during the previous year, Curliss said.

• During Citizens Concerns, Villager Patti Dallas urged Council to use the Code Red phone warning system to alert villagers when tornado siren tests are taking place. A recent state test of the sirens, which was unannounced, prompted her suggestion.


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