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The purchase of the former firehouse on Corry Street by locally based comedian Dave Chappelle's company, Iron Table Holdings closed in March of last year. The sale was facilitated by the Yellow Springs Development Corporation. (YS News archive photo by Matt Minde)

Miami Township— Old firehouse utility fees in dispute

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More than a month after the final closing on the sale of the former firehouse on Corry Street, one financial issue remains unresolved.

Locally based comedian and actor Dave Chappelle has purchased the property at 225 Corry with the stated intention of turning the building into a comedy club and restaurant. The sale was conducted through the Yellow Springs Development Corporation, or YSDC, on behalf of Miami Township, the original owner, but various circumstances delayed the final closing until March15. As part of the sale process, the YSDC in July purchased the option to sell for a nominal $1.

There is a question, however, about who is responsible for the utility fees after the YSDC announced the pending sale to Chappelle in December until the final closing in March. The YSDC thinks the Township is still responsible; the Township disagrees.

The two entities are in negotiation about the issue, and have declined to speak publicly about the details.

According to Miami Township Trustee Chairman Don Hollister, the trustees sent a settlement proposal to the YSDC last week.

“The details of the proposal remain confidential until an agreement is met,” he wrote in an email Monday, April 26. Hollister also serves on the YSDC board as one of two representatives of the Township.

At issue is $2,648 in Vectren and Village utility fees from Dec. 22 to March 15, according to Hollister. The Township paid the monthly bill until Chappelle’s company, Iron Table Holdings Inc., took them over after the March closing.

According to the original agreement between the YSDC and the Township, the YSDC would take an 8% commission from the sale and pass along the remainder of the proceeds to the Township. The building was originally listed for $400,000. The Township expected at least $320,000 from the sale.

According to the YSDC, the final sale price was $424,000, which would net the Township $339,200. Neither entity has yet reported revenue from the sale.

In other recent Township business—

Glen Helen endorsement

At the Trustees’ first meeting this month, April 5, board Chair Don Hollister recommended they pass a resolution endorsing the Glen Helen Association’s Clean Ohio Conservation Fund grant application to go toward $3.5 million in desired upgrades at the nature preserve. Trustee Mark Crockett made a motion to approve the requested resolution, but Trustee Chris Mucher expressed some discomfort with the action, saying he wanted more information.

“In theory, I’m 100% behind what they want to do. But I’m hesitant [to endorse] without seeing their plans,” Mucher said of the grant application.

Hollister offered to table the matter until the next meeting, April 19. He later invited Nick Boutis, the Glen’s executive director, to attend that meeting and answer any questions from the Trustees.

At the April 19 meeting, Boutis said the Glen has launched a capital improvement campaign to address such issues as “code compliance, public safety and public access.” The Clean Ohio grant money, if approved, would be used to demolish the abandoned Antioch College power plant on the preserve grounds, complete a variety of trail improvements and increase visitor access.

He didn’t have an exact amount that would be sought in Clean Ohio money, but estimated receiving about $600,000 from the state conservation fund.

“We are still adding costs, but expect north of half a million” if the application is accepted, Boutis said. The grant would be in the form of a partial match, with the Glen Helen Association responsible for 25% of the requested amount. For example, if the total were $800,000, “we would ask for $600,000 and we would bring $200,000,” he said.

Boutis stressed that the Trustees would hold no fiscal responsibility.

“We’re not coming to the township to ask for your financial participation in any way,” he said. “But we’re hoping your support [in the form of a resolution] will help bring in outside dollars.”

MVRPC equity initiative

The Trustees agreed, unanimously passing a resolution endorsing the Glen’s Clean Ohio application.

As the Trustees’ representative on the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission, or MVRPC, Chris Mucher reported this month on the planning group’s efforts toward “promoting and working on equity in the region.”

Mucher said the Commission’s Regional Equity Initiative includes such areas of concentration as “political, social, religious, transportation — of course — and health.”

The MVRPC, which primarily focuses on transportation planning, funding and policy for Greene, Montgomery, Miami and parts of Warren counties, launched the equity initiative in 2017, according to its website. The five-county equity effort also extends into Darke and Preble counties. Housing, jobs, education and environmental issues, as well as access to opportunities, are also among its concerns.

The Commission’s goal, according to Mucher, is to foster conversations across the region to address existing inequities and subsequently generate solutions.

“I think it’s really exciting stuff,” Mucher said, adding that the effort is funded by outside donors — foundations, businesses — without tax dollars.

Proposed solar array

The Township Trustees are continuing to explore their ability to influence the proposed construction of the 175-megawatt solar array on nearly 1,500 acres of farmland spanning Miami, Cedarville and Xenia townships.

A representative of Vesper Energy, the Houston, Texas-based company that is seeking a state permit to install the project, spoke to Trustees earlier this year about the company’s plans; and several members of the local grass roots group Citizens for Greene Acres, or CGA, subsequently shared their concerns about the project.

The Ohio Power Siting Board, or OPSB, has final authority in approving or rejecting the project, giving local municipalities limited say in the outcome, but governing groups such as the Township can apply to be an “intervener” in the process in order to share their views.

Jenifer Adams, of CGA, told the Trustees that her research into the process revealed that interested parties needed to become an intervener at the beginning of the OPSB process in order to participate at all. She also noted that an “intervener” is allowed to present people to provide testimony.

Zoning Inspector Richard Zopf told the Trustees earlier this year that the project does not meet the mandates of the township’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan, which he said restricts large-scale industrial projects in favor of maintaining the area’s agricultural quality. [The Township’s website shows a link to the land use plan, but the link currently takes online visitors to an unrelated local business.]

Having agreed to become an intervener, the Trustees held a special meeting on Friday, April 16, to approve hiring attorney Lee Sloane to represent the Township’s interests before the OPSB.

Sloane, an environmental lawyer with the Dayton-based firm Dinsmore & Shohl, previously worked with the Ohio Attorney General’s office. According to Township Fiscal Officer Silliman, Sloane’s rate is $300 an hour. The Trustees estimated that the total cost for her services could be up to $15,000.

Sloane’s first act will be to file the necessary documentation to admit the Township as an intervener.

Zoning inspector’s report

Zoning Inspector Zopf reported at the first April meeting that he had issued one permit in the prior month, and three newly created lots in the Township had been sold to separate home builders.

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