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Village Council

Council eyes creating a CIC

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At Village Council’s June 18 meeting, Council revisited a previous discussion on the potential benefits and costs of creating a designated community improvement corporation, or CIC.

“The idea is that this is an organization that could provide a platform for overall strategic planning to help us move forward,” said Council member Lisa Kreeger, who is Council liaison to the Economic Sustainability Commission, or ESC, which recommended taking the action.

 “The Village of Yellow Springs finds itself on the precipice of housing, business and economic development opportunities but without a unifying organization to pull projects and constituencies together for collaboration, planning and funding,” according to a statement to Council from the ESC. “It is the view of the Economic Sustainability Commission that a Designated Community Improvement Corporation, or DCIC, could be the organization that provides the platform for broad and inclusive representation, overall strategic planning and innovative funding approaches.”

The topic was discussion only, with Council members expressing broad support for a CIC.

According to the ESC document, a CIC would have no more than 11 members, including up to four representatives of Village government, representatives from Miami Township and the Yellow Springs Board of Education, and five to seven at-large members from business and nonprofits “that support economic and community development and bring skills or expertise to bear on the success of the corporation.”

“The inclusion of a diverse set of stakeholders supports better coordination of action and aligned strategic planning across entities,” the ESC document states.

A CIC could have a variety of tasks, including administering the Village Revolving Loan Fund and other grant programs, collecting and distributing profit taxes anticipated from Cresco Labs, marketing the Center for Business Education, or CBE, as a business location, funding local infrastructure projects, and funding residential and commercial development, according to the ESC document. Council members stated that at this point, there is only unanimous agreement on using a CIC to administer the Revolving Loan Fund.

Questions raised by Council members included how the CIC would be staffed and funded. In most cases, CICs do have a designated staff member focused on that entity, according to Kreeger. However, Village staff is already stretched, according to Council Vice President Marianne MacQueen, who suggested using some of the Village’s anticipated income from Cresco Labs to fund a staff member. Other funding sources could be general fund money already set aside for economic development purposes, according to Council President Brian Housh.

The proposed CIC would also adhere to the Open Meetings Act and provide for citizens to take part in decision-making, according to the ESC document.

“It is critical that the DCIC maintain trust and transparency in the community so record keeping and communications protocols will be established in the Code of Regulations,” the document states.

The next step in CIC development is reaching out to stakeholders, Kreeger said, stating the ESC will do so soon.

In other Council business June 17:

• Council unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance that allows for the forgiveness of the first utility late fee for villagers struggling to pay utility bills. While Council at its last meeting discussed difficulties posed by Village utility office software in processing this change, Council is moving ahead with the change for those villagers who request forgiveness of the late fee.

“This is the first in a portfolio of actions related to utility affordability,” Council member Lisa Kreeger, who proposed the change, stated.

• Council unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance that allows for the siting and construction of small cell tower facilities in Yellow Springs. The ordinance acknowledges that beginning in August, state law mandates that the small cell towers be allowed in state municipalities.

However, some Ohio cities have taken the new law, which originally removed all local control from the cell tower siting, to court and the resulting legislation does  allow substantial municipal control over the towers, according to Village Solicitor Chris Conard in statements to Council. 

“We have what we need in here,” Conard said, regarding the proposed legislation.

However, Council members expressed concerns over how new towers would be approved, and whether the decision should be Council’s or should reside with the Planning Commission. Because there is an August 1 deadline for the legislation, Council agreed to move ahead with the first reading and revisit the questions during the second and last Council vote next month.

• Council unanimously approved a resolution approving a request to replace electric poles in the village.

• Council unanimously passed a resolution celebrating Yellow Springs as becoming an official Bike-Friendly Community in Ohio.

“We’re accomplishing an important goal,” said Council President Housh, who had worked to achieve this recognition for Yellow Springs.

Council’s next regular meeting will be Monday, July 2, at 7 p.m.

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