Dec
10
2018
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Village Council

Village Council — Home, Inc. requests funds

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Local affordable housing developer Home, Inc. can help the Village meet its housing goals, according to a funding pitch made by Home, Inc.’s board and staff at Village Council’s Sept. 17 meeting. 

In addition, the nonprofit has a successful track record of building 22 permanently affordable homes in 20 years, and can use a new development on Xenia Avenue to test the market for a variety of affordable rentals and homeownership products, supporters said.

The request came during the Citizen’s Comments portion of the meeting and was discussion only.

Specifically, the nonprofit asked the Village to pledge a total of $60,000, or $20,000 each year for three years, as part of a 20th anniversary capital campaign. 

The money will pay some of the development costs associated with the affordable housing land trust’s 14-unit, $2.7-million Glen Cottages pocket neighborhood slated for a one-acre property at 1133 Xenia Ave.

So far Home, Inc. has raised $200,000 of a $350,000 fundraising goal aimed at keeping those units affordable. The development is geared toward a range of income levels, renters and first-time homebuyers, elders and young families and those with special needs, according to a handout in the Council packet.

Home, Inc. board member Jackie Radebaugh framed the funding as an “investment” to expand affordable housing in the village. Radebaugh, who said she works with a population in Dayton that cannot afford housing, added that the collaboration could be a model in the region.

“Affordable housing providers are looking closely at what you’re doing in Yellow Springs,” she told Council. 

Home, Inc. Executive Director Emily Seibel called the financial partnership “a testing ground for potential future collaborations,” while Board Member Jackie Anderson said it is a relatively inexpensive way to “establish best practices and lessons learned” before the Village sets out on its own housing initiatives.

Council Vice President Marianne MacQueen, the former director of Home, Inc., expressed general support for the funding proposal, comparing it to greenspace funding to which the Village has long been committed.

“We’ve supported greenspace for a number of years. It’s time to start supporting affordable housing as much or more,” MacQueen said.

Council President Brian Housh agreed that the Village has “set a precedent” with annual greenspace funding, before turning the discussion to the budgeting process that will begin soon.

The current board members of Home, Inc. are Anderson, Radebaugh, Chris Bongorno, Jeanna GunderKline, Timothy Honchel, Malte von Matthiessen, Kevin McGruder, Steve McQueen, Cynthia Sanford, Alex Scott, David Seitz and Elisabeth Voigt, according to a letter to Council.

In other Council business:

Justice system proposals eyed — Council had several discussion-only items on its agenda related to the Justice System Task Force. 

Among the items were a final report from the JSTF, which is set to disband at the end of 2018, a proposal for the creation of a standing Justice System Commission, and the establishment of a Citizen Advisory Board to local police.

Legislation to send most misdemeanor cases to Mayor’s Court was pulled when a last-minute change had not been reviewed by a JSTF subcommittee prior to being submitted for Council’s consideration.

After beginning its work in fall 2016, the JSTF has had “an enormous amount of citizen involvement,” according to member Pat Dewees in her report to Council. Dewees also noted that while the police have not always agreed with JSTF proposals, they have stayed open to working with the group and its subcommittees.

“Instead of resistance, we’ve had an openness,” Dewees said of local police.

Dewees added that while the group is coming to end — it was set up for a two-year period — “I don’t think the work is done.”

Council then moved on to consider a Justice System Commission, which would serve a similar purpose as the JSTF in an ongoing way. Most agreed about the need for such a group, but MacQueen said she first wanted Council to analyze the work of the original commission, an idea later echoed by Council member Lisa Kreeger. 

“What I’d like to see is the rest of this calendar talking about what worked, what didn’t, with the JSTF, the community and Council,” MacQueen said.

Council member Hempfling, as well Dewees and JSTF member Kate Hamilton, spoke about the importance of keeping the work going without a gap. 

“It will be a message to citizens, a message to our police department that there is some discomfort to civilian oversight of policing,” Hempfling said of a gap.

Dewees and Hamilton spoke of the urgent need for police reform in the wake of national-level developments such as the reauthorization of a program that allows local and state agencies to acquire military-grade weapons.

“Unfortunately the nation is going backwards,” Hamilton said, emphasizing the point of continuity.

Dave Turner of the JSTF added from the floor that he hoped a Justice System Commission would make efforts to encourage more “purposeful interactions” between citizens and the police and wouldn’t become “a never ending watchdog.”

Finally, Council looked at a proposal for a Citizen Advisory Board, which Kreeger defined as a group that would both take citizen complaints and look at broader YSPD data trends to improve the department and its relationship to the community. Under the current proposal the Village Mediation Program would field complaints and the police chief would investigate them. 

Among others, Police Chief Brian Carlson spoke in favor of the proposal.

“I think this has excellent potential for bringing the department and the community closer together,” he said.

To be a Tree City or not? — Council members debated whether or not to pass two pieces of legislation required for the Village to apply for the Tree City USA designation, a community improvement program of the Arbor Day Foundation. The two separate ordinances would enact a new chapter entitled “Trees” in the local codified ordinances and establish a Tree Commission.

Council President Brian Housh said that the move formalizes the current relationship between the Village’s public works department, which cares for street trees and other trees on public land, with the Tree Committee, a local nonprofit that arranges memorial trees and other plantings and advises on the best trees to plant. 

“This is not about the accolades for Tree City USA but about formalizing our collaborative partnership around making sure that we are properly caring for our trees,” Housh said.

But MacQueen came out against the ordinance, citing concerns about a new commission and the overall workload of Council. Kreeger agreed.

“Is there a way to achieve the objectives, which are good, without creating a new commission which causes capacity issues?” she asked.

Anna Bellisari of the Tree Committee spoke from the audience in favor of the ordinances, saying they would improve communication with the Village and enhance the committee’s work to plant and care for local trees.  

“One of the things that would really be enhanced by this is there would be crystal clear communication between the Tree Committee and the director of public works,” Bellisari said. “This would make everything so much more efficient.” 

Village Public Works Director Johnnie Burns said he sees the merits of both arguments.

“Do I think we need it? I think we do a good job right now but I think we do need some more structure involved,” he said of the ordinances.

In response to Council’s request, the ordinances were tabled and will be amended to focus on the care of local trees rather than the creation of a commission for the purposes of becoming a Tree City USA.

No more RVs on streets — Council unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance banning mobile homes and other recreational vehicles from being parked in local streets, except during loading and unloading.

RVs can still be parked on private property, according to Village Planning and Zoning Administrator Denise Swinger at the meeting.

The ordinance makes a change to the general offenses code, allowing local police to issue parking citations for RVs they find parked in the street. 

A zoning change reducing the length of time one can stay in an RV, discussed at the Sept. 4 Council meeting, may be considered at a future meeting, according to Swinger. 

Antioch College Village rezoned — 

Council passed the second reading of an ordinance to rezone an Antioch property on the north side of East North College Street from Educational (E-1) to High-density Residential (R-C) for the college’s new pocket neighborhood, the Antioch College Village. The vote was 4–0 after Council member Kevin Stokes recused himself because he is an Antioch employee.

The next step for the project is to acquire a conditional use permit to allow the pocket neighborhood, which Planning Commission will take up next month. Antioch is set to bid out the project in the next few weeks so construction can begin before the end of 2018, according to project director Monica Hasek this week.

New hires at the Village — New Clerk of Courts Elise Burns was sworn in by Mayor Pam Conine. Burns replaced Ann Poortinga, who left after seven months in the position.

Also, Clerk of Council Judy Kintner announced the hiring of a new part-time assistant, Eleanor Anderson, who will split time between planning/zoning and the clerk’s office.

Diversity training wrap-up — Stokes reported on the two half-day diversity trainings for municipal staff and elected officials, which took place in August and were attended by 51 people. The trainings were part of an initiative spearheaded by Stokes to improve the community’s cultural competency. The trainings covered implicit bias, microaggressions, privilege and the role of stereotypes and prejudice in perpetuating cycles of oppression and more. 

According to Stokes, most participants felt that the climate for diversity and inclusion in the Village was improving but many challenges continue, specifically, “declining minority population and affordability as it pertains to socioeconomic diversity,” he noted in a later email.

A follow-up meeting with trainers later this fall will determine next steps, Stokes wrote. In addition, Stokes is part of a group developing new hiring practices to improve diversity.

YSPD by the numbers — In August, the Yellow Springs Police Department sent 34 of its 84 total charges to Mayor’s Court, a rate of 40 percent, according to a report for Council. To date, about 58 percent of all PD charges have been sent to Mayor’s Court this year. Of the 34 charges in August, 18 were traffic-related and 16 were for parking violations. No criminal charges were before the court last month.

• Financial briefs — The Village has collected close to $23,000 so far from a lodging tax that went into effect this year, according to a report from Colleen Harris, finance director.

Harris’ report also noted that pool revenue was on par with last year, at nearly $67,000, with the Gaunt Park pool taking a $32,000 loss in 2018.

So far the Village has spent $10.2 million for wages, maintenance and professional services this year, and is on track to spend more than the Village originally budgeted, according to Harris’ report.

DP&L cheaper than YS? — As an addendum to her manager’s report, Bates analyzed local electricity rates in comparison to Dayton Power & Light, or DP&L, a major area provider.

At Council’s Sept. 4 meeting, a Yellow Springs resident had argued that DP&L’s electricity was cheaper than rates in the Village.

Bates reported that the quoted DP&L figures did not include delivery charges and other taxes charged by DP&L. If added, DP&L’s total rate would be on par with the Village’s residential rate of $0.11 per kilowatt-hour. But on top of that, the Village also charges a $12 monthly readiness for service charge, for capital improvements, and a power cost adjustment, which is related to municipal power contracts. Bates also included a chart showing that the power cost of electricity purchased by the Village had nearly doubled since 2013.

• Next meeting — Council’s next regular meeting is Monday, Oct. 1, in Council chambers. 

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