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Currently, 11 families occupy apartments in 10 Lawson Place, which the Village plans to purchase. The Village plans to continue to rent the units for under market value as part of its commitment to affordable housing options. (Photo by Matt Minde)

Village to buy Lawson Place apartments

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In their regular Nov. 15 meeting, held virtually via Zoom, Village Council approved two measures allowing Village Manager Josué Salmerón to purchase an apartment building located at 10 Lawson Place.

The property, owned by the Brown family since 1963, is a 16-unit apartment building. The Browns have rented the apartments to villagers for under market value in order to give affordable options to renters in the village. It was put on the market about two months ago.

Salmerón said he believes there are benefits in the Village purchasing the property, citing a commitment to affordable housing.

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“If we lose this as an affordable rental it could be lost for a long time,” he said. “This is our opportunity to make a bold move to preserve affordable housing.”

The first measure was an ordinance moving $160,000 to the general fund in order to make a down payment on the Lawson Place property. The second measure was a resolution allowing Salmerón to take “all necessary steps” to purchase the property. Both measures were approved unanimously.

In response to a question from Council member Laura Curliss, Salmerón said the funds would come from the Village reserves, and that the Village would secure a conventional loan to cover the rest of the cost. He added that the loan can be refinanced at any point, and that they could pursue USDA grant money in the future to pay down the loan.

“It’s up to us to identify the best source of capital in the long run,” he said.

He said that looking for other options would take longer than the seller’s timeline for the sale.
Council member Lisa Kreeger asked how the property would be managed and what the plan was going to be for ongoing maintenance.

Salmerón replied that he has contacted several property management companies who would be responsible for operations and regular maintenance, but that he is interested in creating an ownership co-op or using a community land trust model to ensure that the units remain affordable.

He also said that he has identified several areas that would need immediate maintenance, including the roof and sewer lines.

Council member Marianne MacQueen applauded Salmerón for his efforts, saying that the Village will have time to figure out the best management model.

“I appreciate you doing the work on this project,” she said. “It looks like [a project] that can at least break even.”

Council President Brian Housh said he thought the Village was making the right move.

“It’s hard to imagine someone else being in a position to intervene,” he said.

Council heard comments from villagers who asked questions about rent increases. In response to a question from villager Leah Naeve, Salmerón said that the property would not be rent controlled “in the usual way.”

“It needs to sustain itself,” he said. “Anything more could go into the improvement of the property.”
Salmerón concluded by saying that he believes the Village is doing the right thing.

“We really felt that we needed to jump in on this opportunity,” he said. “It isn’t about 16 apartments; it’s about 11 families.”

Further coverage of the purchase of 10 Lawson Place, including interviews with the current owner and tenants, will be in next week’s edition of the News.

In other Council business, Nov. 15:

Burge sworn in as interim chief
Following former Chief Brian Carlson’s last day on Friday, Nov. 12, Sgt. Paige Burge was named acting chief. On Monday, Council unanimously approved Burge’s appointment as interim chief, and she was sworn in by Council President Brian Housh.

Burge has been with YSPD since 2019, when she joined as a foot patrol officer. She was promoted to sergeant in August after the departure of Naomi Watson. Hailing from Fairborn, Burge will be YSPD’s first female and LGBTQ+ chief. Prior to her service with YSPD, Burge worked in the private sector in asset protection for 10 years.

Salmerón said he had given the appointment a lot of thought before choosing Burge to take the helm.

“I have seen her commitment to our community, her approach, and I can’t think of a better person to run this at this time on an interim basis,” he said.

Council member Kevin Stokes said he was impressed with the overall support from her fellow officers and staff.

“I attended the staff meeting Friday morning as acting chief Burge was coming in, and the rank-and-file police officers seemed excited about this change,” he said. “It was a love fest. I am excited about the potential moving forward.”

Kreeger said she was happy to have such a good candidate in light of the difficulty of finding a good fit for the interim appointment.

“These appointments are super critical,” she said. “I’m glad we have such an excellent option.”
Curliss added that she was impressed that Burge was willing to take on the role.

“I think it’s important for the public to know that Paige is not one of the chief candidates,” she said. “We are not giving a leg up to someone who would be a candidate.”

Housh said he was excited about the appointment.

“We expect that she is going to continue the great work that Chief Carlson started.”

After the swearing in, Burge’s wife joined her in a pinning ceremony. Burge said she was honored to be given the opportunity to serve as interim chief.

“I came [to Yellow Springs] because of the way we do things in the village,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to police anyplace else. It’s been the absolute privilege of my professional life, and I won’t let you down.”

Burge will fill the role of chief until Salmerón finds a permanent replacement for the position.

According to Salmerón, the candidate pool is being narrowed down to three finalists, but he is focused on finding the best possible fit for the village.

In response to a question from the News, Salmerón said that while Burge is not a candidate for the position, she could apply if the position is opened again.

“We are working to establish a process, but if that process does change it is possible that she can apply,” he said.

As for Burge’s appointment, Salmerón said that having an interim chief will allow the search committee to take its time vetting candidates.

“I think [naming Burge as interim] is great for the village and will help us to commit to the high level of fidelity of our search.”

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