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Village Council

Council explores incentives for EnviroFlight

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The Village of Yellow Springs is working to keep local insect-based feed company EnviroFlight in the village.

That was the message of Village Manager Josue Salmeron at Council’s July 15 regular meeting.

At the meeting, Council approved Salmeron’s proposal to draft an incentives package to encourage the company to keep its research and development operation here. The details will be worked out in executive session.

Salmeron told Council that two other communities, Maysville, Ky., and Raleigh, N.C., have already offered incentives to the company ranging from $300,000 to $600,000.

“We don’t want to be left out,” Salmeron said.

Possible Village incentives may include discounted land at the Village-owned Center for Business and Education, or CBE, infrastructure work at the site and/or fee waivers, Salmeron explained in a later interview.

“I looked at what there’s precedence for and what we’ve done for other businesses and housing developments,” Salmeron said.

Salmeron also reported that the Greene County Department of Development has offered up to $100,000 and Jobs Ohio up to $110,000 in grants to EnviroFlight if they stay.

“So we have $210,000 on the table,” Salmeron explained.

Reached by email this week, EnviroFlight CEO Liz Koutsos confirmed that the company was considering Yellow Springs as an option, in addition to other locations, and that she anticipates the company will make a decision by end of summer.

“We are grateful for the interest in the EnviroFlight business!” Koutsos added.

Council members expressed their support for the Village effort to retain EnviroFlight. Council member Lisa Kreeger noted that if the company leaves town, they will never return

“If they’re gone, they’re gone. If they leave, we won’t have that revenue stream,” Kreeger said.

EnviroFlight was started at the Millworks Business Park on North Walnut Street in 2009, and produces animal and plant feed from insect larvae. It was purchased by Intrexon/Darling Ingredients in 2016, and opened a commercial-scale facility in Maysville, Ky., last November.

The company learned earlier this year from the new owners of Millworks that its lease there — where it still runs an R&D operation — will not be extended when it expires at the end of 2021.

While the company currently leases 20,000 square feet of space at Millworks, employs 22 people and pays local income taxes on an $1.8 million annual payroll, its new facility will be somewhat larger with fewer employees, Salmeron said.

The company is looking to build a 30,000-square foot facility on three acres, with room to expand. Its new payroll is estimated to be $1 million, which Salmeron told Council would yield $18,0000 to $19,000 in annual payroll taxes to local entities, while the property tax at the new facility may bring in around $109,000 annually.

In addition to the economic benefits, Salmeron emphasized the company’s affinity with the village.

“Their business values align with our village values,” Salmeron said. “It’s the kind of business that speaks of what Yellow Springs is about.”

“It’s a green business. It’s good for the environment and it’s good for its employees,” Salmeron added.

“We want the village to know that we are actively working to retain this business,” he said.

Voting expansion to go on the ballot

In November, local voters will decide on a proposed change to the Village Charter that would allow noncitizen legal residents and local 16- and 17- year olds to vote in local elections.

Council approved the ordinance to put the charter change on the November ballot in a 5–0 vote, with Council President Brian Housh saying the goal was to be “more inclusive about voting.”

If approved, both populations could vote only for municipal offices such as Council and mayor and on local measures and levies. They would not be able to vote for school district elections or measures, according to Housh.

“Because it’s a local initiative, it will only effect local elections,” Housh said, adding that he hopes the local measure “sets a precedent.”

There were 102 Yellow Springs residents aged 16 and 17 in the U.S. Census’ 2017 American Community Survey estimate. The number of local noncitizens who are legal permanent residents is unknown.

During Council deliberations, David Turner spoke from the floor about his concerns, and encouraged Council to be active in educating younger voters.

“Young voters are even more impressionable than older voters,” Turner said.

The measure must be approved by the Ohio Secretary of State before it appears on the ballot.

In another proposed charter amendment, Council is asking voters to consider raising the Mayor’s term of office from two to four years, starting in 2022.

New “Comp Plan” moves ahead

Council approved, in a 5–0 vote, a resolution to contract with Dayton firm Community Planning Insights, LLC to prepare an update to the Village’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan, at a cost of up to $30,000. According to the proposal, the plan is slated for completion in March 2020. Planning Commission had recommended the firm.

As part of the process, the firm will organize a “Planning Week,” a multi-day process to gather input from the community and develop consensus on “the future growth and development of Yellow Springs,” the proposal reads.

The last local Comprehensive Plan was completed in 2010.

Home, Inc. encourages partnership

Home, Inc. Executive Director Emily Seibel presented to Council on the local affordable housing land trust’s 20 years of efforts. Seibel also proposed partnering to address the housing problem, though she did not specify the details of such a partnership.

In her talk, Seibel presented data showing that “market values are outpacing income” nationally, including in the village.

“The median income in Yellow Springs cannot afford the median home sale price in Yellow Springs,” she said.

Seibel went on to ask for a “public intervention,” as “the market is not going to build us out of this problem.”

“We are doing everything we possibly can to meet the affordability needs of the community, but if we partner more we can do more,” Seibel concluded.

Other legislation

The following legislation was passed 5–0:

Council approved a resolution in support of a Greene County Master Trail Planning Effort.

• Council passed the second reading of several ordinances that align voting procedures of the Board of Zoning Appeals with those of the Planning Commission and Village Charter.

Council passed the second reading of an ordinance granting a utility easement to Vectren through its Railroad Street property, which is now a parking lot. The new gas line would improve the parcel’s development potential, Council previously learned.

Council is taking its annual summer break. Its next regular meeting is Monday, August 12, at 7 p.m., in Council chambers.

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