Village Council— Wetland parking lot approved
- Published: February 2, 2017
At Village Council’s Jan. 17 meeting, Council members voted to move ahead to complete construction of a small parking area near a wetlands on the Glass Farm. One Glass Farm neighbor voiced support for the parking area while two expressed strong dissent for the new parking.
The vote was 4-0-1, with Brian Housh abstaining from the vote.
The permeable parking area, which would hold five cars, is part of a project funded by a $68,000 Clean Ohio grant that aims to create educational opportunities on the Glass Farm wetland, according to Council Member Marianne MacQueen. The project aims to remove invasive species, plant native species, put up a bird blind, create walking paths and install a permeable parking area in order to make the area more accessible to villagers.
“We want to turn this into an educational environment as well as attracting birds and animals,” MacQueen said.
Construction on the parking area has already begun and is currently at a standstill. In November six inches of dirt was excavated in a 30’ by 60’ area on both sides of the dirt road that leads into the wetland from King Street and gravel has been dumped near the site, with the expectation that the gravel would be spread to create the parking area, according to MacQueen this week. However, at that point, Patti Purdin, a neighbor whose home abuts the property, asked Council to halt the project, which she said she had been unaware of. Both Purdin and neighbor Chris Zurbuchen told Council in December about their opposition to the parking area, with Purdin saying the parking area would make her feel unsafe.
The Village did halt the project and attempted to find an alternate location for the parking area, MacQueen said this week. However, no good alternate could be found and relocating would cost about $5,000, which is not in the available funding.
Neighbor Dan Dixon, whose farm is directly across King Street from the wetland, said he supports the project, including the parking area.
“We feel blessed across the street to have such a wonderful spot near us,” he said, adding that, “the driveway and parking area are reasonable and appropriate.”
The wetlands is located on the eastern third of the farm, which was zoned Conservation at the request of neighbors during the Village rezoning effort in 2010, according to MacQueen. Since that time, a small group of beavers has moved into the land and their dams have created a wetland.
“It’s the only wetland in Yellow Springs,” MacQueen said.
The wetland project is already serving educational purposes, according to Vickie Hennessy of the Beaver Management Task Force, which is providing oversight to the area. Local students walk to the wetlands to study it, and Antioch College students have studied the area as well.
“It’s a unique wetland created by beavers,” Hennessy said. “It has brought a huge diversity of species.”
Following the vote, Council member Judith Hempfling expressed concern that Council needs to make sure it is clearly communicating with neighbors on new projects, to prevent neighbors feeling unheard during projects close to their homes.
In other Council Jan. 17 business:
• Council member Brian Housh presented a proposal for a community conversation about the land formerly slated for the Center for Business and Education, or CBE, from the Economic Sustainability Commission. The conversation, which is modeled on Village-sponsored forums on police/community relations, will consist of two forums, on Thursday, March 2, and Thursday, April 27.
Before the forums, from mid-January to mid-February, villagers may respond to three questions on Survey Monkey online or via boxes placed at key locations in town, such as Tom’s Market and the Yellow Springs Library. The questions are, “What community values should inform the use of this property?” “What community needs could this property serve?” and “What would you like to see and/or not see on this property?”
• During citizen concerns, Robert Conard suggested that the CBE could be used for a wind farm. Doing so would still allow other uses below the wind turbines, Conard said, and would enhance the Village’s reputation for “thinking ahead” in its use of alternative energy.
• Council unanimously approved a resolution allowing Clem Farms to continue farming the CBE land during this agricultural year.
• During citizen concerns, Athena Fannin expressed concerns about what she perceives as resistance from Village staff in her requests for public information.
• During the Village manager’s report, Manager Bates reported that construction on the new water plant is moving slightly ahead of schedule.
• Council unanimously approved an ordinance allowing the police department to dispose of surplus bicycles.
• Council postponed its discussion of 2017 Council goals until its Feb. 6 meeting.
• Before the meeting, Council met in executive session for the purpose of discussion of a potential lawsuit, of an employee wage increase and of staff yearly evaluation.
Council’s next regular meeting is Monday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m. in Council chambers.