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Council prioritizes housing — 2018 goal discussion begins

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At Village Council’s Feb. 5 meeting, Council members united around creating a housing plan as one of the 2018 Council goals.

“We want more affordable housing but we also want a mix, more senior and workforce housing,” Council Vice President Marianne MacQueen said. “We want a more holistic plan.”

The topic emerged during Council’s initial conversation regarding setting its annual goals (See sidebar). Council will continue its goal discussion at its Feb. 20 meeting, when Council President Brian Housh brings draft goals back to Council for further consideration. 

Most often, Council goals are multi-year efforts that are brought forward from the previous year, with specific goals prioritized year by year. This year, all Council members identified housing as a priority.

Council goals, 2017

These 2017 goals will be updated in Council’s 2018 goals discussion.

1. Complete the new water plant and update and implement the Source Water Protection Plan.

2. Create and implement a Sustainable Economic Development Strategy to support existing businesses and entrepreneurs and attract new opportunities that support the values of the community.

3. Develop a strategy for fiscal sustainability.

4. Create a model integrated transportation system for the Village that improves quality of life by promoting safety, recreation, environmental sustainability, health, equity/inclusion and economic development.

5. Work with community organizations, commissions and staff to develop a plan to reduce energy use and increase environmental sustainability.

6. Pursue infrastructure development that facilitates more robust, economical and accessible broadband Internet service to the community.

7. Village justice system review and update.

8. Develop a master plan for the Glass Farm, to include mixed-income housing, a solar array and a wetland area.

9. Increase affordability in Yellow Springs.

“I think housing is an important goal that touches several values,” Council member Lisa Kreeger said, acknowledging the list of six Council values that have remained consistent during the goal-setting process in recent years. Council values can be found on the list of 2017 goals online at; click on Feb. 5 Council packet.

The focus on housing follows a recent presentation to Council by Patrick Bowen, whose Columbus firm, Bowen National Research, compiled a Housing Needs Assessment report for Yellow Springs. The effort, which took several months, was based on demographic, housing and economic data, with input from more than 500 villagers.

The study concluded that in the next few years Yellow Springs will grow more than its current housing stock can accommodate. The most growth will take place in the demographics of seniors and millennials, according to the study, which identified a lack of housing across the board, although need was especially keen in affordable rentals and housing for seniors. 

The Bowen study, along with a PowerPoint presentation Bower gave, is available online at

While Bowen identified lots and spaces in town that he said could hold 700 new housing units, most of the land is privately owned and some is not for sale. However, the Village-owned Glass Farm, which has about 30 available acres, could accommodate about 131 single-family homes or 327 multifamily units, Bowen stated.

“”By the end of 2018, we need a plan for the Glass Farm,” MacQueen said at the Feb. 5 meeting.

At the meeting, Council also approved continuing the Housing Advisory Board, The board consists of Council liaisons MacQueen and Judith Hempfling; Village Manager Patti Bates, Assistant Manager Melissa Dodd and Planner Denise Swinger; and villagers Karen Wintrow, Kevin McGruder and Liz Voight.

The board aims to provide technical support for Council on the housing issue, according to MacQueen. Its first effort will be convening four Community Forums on Housing in March, in order to give villagers an opportunity to discuss with each other the housing study and their preferences for Yellow Springs. The events will be held at First Baptist Church, Mills Lawn School, the Yellow Springs Senior Center and the Bryan Center. 

At the meeting, Council also verbally approved a request from MacQueen to present more information on inclusionary zoning at Council’s Feb. 20 meeting. Inclusionary zoning is a tool for municipalities to require developers to include a portion of affordable housing in all housing projects, she said.

Regarding additional 2018 goals, several Council members stated their hope to include a goal related to anti-racism and inclusion efforts. 

“It’s important to me that we continue to maintain a cultural life in Yellow Springs that is not just a white, middle-class culture,” Kreeger said. “It’s important that the activities, the people we see are of diverse cultures.”

Council member Kevin Stokes emphasized his interest in making implicit bias training a Council goal, not just for the police department but for all Village staff. 

And Judith Hempfling stated her interest in including a focus on diversity hiring practices.

Several Council members also emphasized their interest in focusing on the 2017 goal of increasing affordability, especially regarding those struggling to pay utility bills.

“I’ve heard dozens of people talking about utilities,” Kreeger said.

MacQueen and Housh also emphasized improving Village infrastructure as a Village goal, with MacQueen also suggesting that the Village promote localism as an important aspect of environmental sustainability.

Substantial work has been done on several 2017 Council goals that could drop down the list in importance, Hempfling said. The new Village water plant is up and running, much work has been done on the Village justice system, and after several years prioritizing environmental issues, the Village now has an electric portfolio that is 90 percent renewable sources.

“There’s only so much more we can do,” she said, regarding environmental issues.

Housh said he will create a new Facebook group, VillageYS, which will be available after Council’s Feb. 20 meeting to poll villagers on their goal preferences. Another poll may be online at SurveyMonkey, along with hard-copy versions placed at prominent locations around the village.

Other items of Council’s Feb. 5 agenda, including a report on Village boards and commissions, will be in next week’s News.

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