New delay for new firehouse
- Published: March 21, 2019
With a third round of construction bids again coming in too high, Miami Township Trustees will be returning to the drawing board for another attempt at reducing the projected costs of building a new firehouse on the south side of town.
Seven project bids were received in February, Trustee President Chris Mucher reported during the most recent Trustees meeting Monday, March 4.
As in previous bidding attempts, none were within the 10 percent over maximum allowed by law.
The lowest bid of about $5.5 million exceeded the $4.9 million building budget by $600,000 — $100,000 over the 10 percent limit.
Mucher said most bids were around $5.6 million, with the highest bid coming in over $6 million.
While disappointed that the project would need more design adjustments to reduce costs, the trustees found the number of bids more promising than the single bid made during the first attempt in June. That bid was $1 million over the desired cost.
Voters overwhelmingly approved a 2.4-mill 30-year bond levy in May 2017 to construct the new station on land formerly occupied by Wright State Physicians and owned by Wright State University. The township bought two acres, the portion fronting Xenia Avenue, for $350,000 in October 2016.
The bond is anticipated to raise about $5.75 million over its 30-year life span. The $850,000 difference from the $4.9 construction costs is to pay for other related expenses, including architect, engineer, attorney and other council and advisor fees, Mucher said in a prior interview.
Miami Township property owners began paying taxes on the levy in January 2018. Cost is about $84 per $100,000 appraised valuation per year, according to county records.
Mucher said at the March 4 meeting that in moving forward, “we will need to do some value engineering.”
That could involve working with the architectural firm that designed the firehouse, MSA Architects of Cincinnati, to find building features that could be changed or modified to reduce construction costs.
After the initial unsuccessful bidding round in June, and before bidding out the project again, the township worked with MSA and knocked off an estimated $175,000 in construction costs by changing and/or reducing the number of light fixtures and other design elements. They also found another $150,000 in possible savings by identifying other features that could be changed, such as eliminating skylights, if costs remained too high.
A second round of bids in November had seven bids, again all higher than the 10 percent over threshold. Another meeting with the architect further refined the scope of the project.
A delay in the required accreditation of the revised plan by the USDA, caused by the federal government shutdown from December into January, pushed the third round of bidding to February.
“We’ll plug along and see what options we have to redesign and rebid,” Mucher said at the March 4 meeting.
Mucher noted that such elements as roof line, exterior materials, window size and doors could be considered.
The five bay doors of the current plan are $5,000 a piece, he added.
Fire Chief Colin Altman said that a reduction in space, such as going to four bays, will mean the department will “have to double-stack” vehicles.
This week, the Miami Township Firefighters’ Association announced that the township is going to “explore a different method to get the building constructed.”
“Instead of soliciting bids for the whole project, we are looking at the potential of using a qualified Construction Manager,” the department posted online.
“These are companies that oversee and coordinate the construction, but instead of committing to a set price for all the work, they solicit individual bids from sub-contractors, and the township then awards those separate contracts.”
The announcement concluded that the method is “a bit more work, but the mark-up is less, and the cost estimates are more accurate along the way.”
A story about the latest plans and costs related to the station will be in an upcoming edition of the News.
In other trustees business March 4—
Openings in fire department
Chief Altman reported that Miami Fire-Rescue is looking to fill two to three positions in the department.
Trustee Don Hollister noted that the township’s pay scale is “lower than many other departments in the area.”
Altman agreed, but added other locales may be more active. Washington Township in Montgomery County, for example, pays $3 better an hour, but also has 4,000 more runs a year, he said.
Cemetery and roads report
Dan Gochenouer reported that Glen Forest Cemetery had three burials since the trustees’ last meeting Feb. 20, while a burial of ashes and a full burial were both pending.
He and Fire Chief Altman also agreed to set a date for a control burn of prairie grass in the cemetery to help reduce weed growth.
Concerning township roads, Gochenouer reported that plowing, salting and pothole repair “has been the major activity.”
Mucher urged residents to let Gochenouer know of any potholes they come across.
Township Fiscal Officer Margaret Silliman reported receiving a call from a Corry Street resident who is concerned about trees on the edge of a Hyde Road residence that appear ready to fall on the road.
The trustees affirmed that the township is not permitted go onto private property to remove trees. Its responsibility to keep public roads clear doesn’t extend to privately owned land.
Governor’s proposed gas tax increase
President Mucher reported that Gov. Mike DeWine’s proposed 18 cents a gallon gas tax increase could net the township an additional $90,000 in revenue the first year, if implemented, with anticipated further increases in subsequent years.
He explained that the revenue would be split 60/40 between the state and local jurisdictions, with the state getting the larger amount.
The money would be for road department use, Mucher said.
After the close of the meeting, he noted that the township hasn’t “been able to blacktop anything in years.”
Trustee Hollister added that individuals who support the gas tax increase should contact their representatives in the Ohio Statehouse.
Zoning report and public hearing
Zoning Inspector Richard Zopf reported that since the last trustees meeting in February, he had issued one permit for a new home on Harbison Road, near the Cedarville Township line.
He also reported on the Township Zoning Commission’s recommendations for changes to the zoning code book as part of a scheduled public hearing on the matter.
As reported last month, the commission recommended that three chapters concerning residential categories be removed: the two-family residence district, the multi-family residence district and planned unit development, or PUD.
Concerning the two-family and multi-family districts, Zopf said it made sense to eliminate those designations because the township doesn’t have any such districts, and they don’t align with the comprehensive plan, which seeks to maintain an agricultural, rural feel in the township.
The comprehensive plan’s goals are also behind the recommendation to eliminate the PUD chapter, he said.
Reading from a list of Commission member’s concerns regarding PUD, Zopf noted that PUD encourages high-density development. Also, such developments would require new infrastructure services, including sewer and water.
Other concerns included the possibility of “popcorn development,” “toxic” runoff and the zoning requirement that such development be adjacent to existing municipalities.
“That kind of development is not what we want,” Zopf said.
The only PUD in the township is the Willow Fields development, he said.
The fact of Willow Fields’ existence is one reason Trustee Hollister cited for keeping the PUD chapter in the township’s zoning book.
“Because there is a PUD district in our zoning map, I think it’s ridiculous to have a district without text.”
He suggested leaving the chapter in and rewriting it to suit the township’s goals.
He also wondered if there were development possibilities that allowed for small, compact lots with farming continuing inside the developed road strip.
Zopf cautioned the trustees against leaving the chapter in, but disallowing the development it described.
“You shouldn’t have situations where you don’t give indications of what is acceptable or not acceptable,” he said.
“It would be very disingenuous to say [to a developer], ‘You meet all the requirements, but we don’t like it.’”
Trustee Mark Crockett asked about water drainage issues with smaller lots.
“We in Miami Township don’t have any runoff regulations like the Village,” Zopf replied.
“That’s not to say we can’t improve our regulations or procedures,” he added.
With no community members present to comment, the trustees moved forward with a compromise, voting unanimously to remove the two-family and multi-family sections of the code and seeking a revision of the PUD section.
Hollister said he will work with the Zoning Commission on a rewrite.
“I’ll take that on as a concern,” he said.
The three-person board’s next meeting will be at 5 p.m. on Monday, March 18, in the Township offices on Corry Street.