Village may annex north Glen
- Published: October 22, 2015
Only a fraction of Glen Helen is currently under the jurisdiction of Yellow Springs, but an annexation proposal put forth by Glen Helen’s director, Nick Boutis, at last week’s Village Council meeting could bring many more acres into the village.
“Even the Yellow Spring isn’t within Yellow Springs,” Boutis told Council.
Other Glen icons outside of village jurisdiction include Birch Creek, the Cascades and the Outdoor Education Center.
The annexation proposal seeks to consolidate jurisdiction in the north Glen, presently split between Yellow Springs and Miami Township, into a single parcel entirely within the village. The south Glen would be unaffected by the proposal.
As jurisdiction now stands, only 73 acres of the Glen — a strip of woods adjacent to Corry Street — are within Yellow Springs. The remaining 425 acres of the north Glen, spanning State Route 343 to Grinnell Road, are within Miami Township. The proposal aims to annex that 425-acre parcel into the village.
The plan is part of a stepped-up effort to deal more effectively with vandalism and crime that occur in the northern portion of the Glen, said Boutis. Other measures in the Glen’s new “three-prong approach” include this summer’s hiring of a full-time ranger, Susan Smith, and a protocol for periodic patrol by Antioch College’s Office of Public Safety.
Even with increased security, the Glen remains in a “jurisdictional limbo” with regard to law enforcement, said Boutis. Although the Greene County Sheriff is the enforcement authority in the majority of the north Glen, the Sheriff’s office is too distant from the preserve to provide meaningful support, Boutis contended.
“Nobody is adequately addressing” unlawful acts and violations of the Glen’s rules, he said. Antioch College, which has owned the preserve since 1929, does not have sufficient resources to provide the level of security the Glen needs, he added.
Boutis highlighted a recent incident involving an encounter between intoxicated visitors and children attending night camp in the Glen. While the incident did not escalate, it took an hour for the Sheriff’s office to respond, he said.
By contrast, said Boutis in an interview earlier this week, “the YSPD is inches from Glen Helen — they’re able to respond quickly.”
Proximity to Yellow Springs and its downtown attractions is precisely what drives violations in the north Glen, he said. Visitors, rather than locals, are believed to be the majority offenders. Common infractions include various types of vandalism affecting trees, rock formations and signage; disturbances such as public nudity, public drinking, drug use and intoxication; littering, including the leaving of broken glass on trails; and more serious though less frequent crimes, such as narcotics sales.
Both public safety and the preservation of the Glen’s natural resources are at stake, Boutis told Council.
Village Manager Patti Bates signaled her support: “It’s a good idea. It clears up some jurisdictional issues.” She noted that she and Yellow Springs Police Chief David Hale had already spoken with Boutis about the proposal.
Chief Hale said that he believed the department could handle increases in service calls expected to result from the annexation.
“We looked at calls for service, and we believe that calls will not really go up,” he said, explaining that Yellow Springs police are “responding anyway” in many cases.
Council voted 5–0 to move forward on developing a pre-annexation plan.
Boutis said earlier this week that he plans to address Miami Township trustees at their next meeting, on Monday, Oct. 19.
“There’s a political process that has to unfold,” he said, including an opportunity for public feedback.
He expected that the annexation would take a couple of months to be approved by both the Township and Village. But he expressed optimism that it would.
“It’s reassuring that there’s broad recognition that there are things we can do together to protect the Glen,” he said. Noting that annexation has often been viewed by villagers as “a vector for sprawl,” he made the distinction that this proposed annexation would actually expand the preserved land within the village’s boundaries.
In other Council business:
• Council approved 5–0 a revised Public Art Policy. Council member Brian Housh said the new policy is simplified and streamlined, but not substantively different from the existing policy.
• Council reviewed newly standardized ordinances for the village’s seven citizen-led boards and commissions. Housh noted that the Public Art Commission had been renamed the Arts and Culture Commission to better reflect is mission. Council will vote on the standardized ordinances on Nov. 2.
• Also concerning commissions, Council discussed adding money to the Council budget to cover expenses such as training for commission members. Currently some commissions have budgets, while others do not; money for these budgets comes out of the Village manager’s budget.
• Council member Marianne MacQueen relayed that the Environmental Commission is working with Tecumseh Land Trust on three “priority easements” along the Jacoby Creek watershed that would seek to prevent sprawl along the western portion of the village. MacQueen will bring details and maps to Council’s next work session on Oct. 19.
• Village Manager Bates announced the results of the Village’s analysis of sediment and water samples taken from the Glass Farm wetland last month. The samples were tested in response to a citizen’s concerns about water quality and safety on land proposed for recreational use through a grant application to Clean Ohio. Bates said all samples were well below surface water standards and some were even below drinking water standards — meaning that contaminant levels were very low.
• Council approved 5–0 preliminary legislation permitting the Ohio Department of Transportation to commence sidewalk construction related to safe routes to schools. Bates clarified that sidewalks wouldn’t be built “anytime soon — these are preliminary steps.”
• Assistant Village Manager Melissa Vanzant presented a preliminary overview of the 2016 budget, which will be discussed at meetings over the next two months. The Village budget is available for download at yso.org under the Oct. 5 Council packet.