Village Council postpones Oberer discussion
- Published: December 21, 2021
Days after its regular Dec. 6 meeting, where Village Council heard concerns from several villagers, Council decided to postpone the second reading on an ordinance that would grant Planned Urban Development, or PUD, zoning to Oberer for its property on the southern end of the village. Originally slated to be read at the Monday, Dec. 20 meeting, the item has been removed from the agenda.
In an email following the meeting, Zoning Administrator Denise Swinger explained that the property is currently zoned Residential A, or low-density residential. If Council votes to change the zoning to PUD, the Village stands to see a “higher quality development.” According to the Village zoning code, low-density residential zoning does not allow duplexes, multi-family housing or attached residential housing. Granting a PUD would allow for different housing types.
In an emailed follow-up response, Village Manager Josué Salmerón said that the Village administrative team and Village Council have requested additional information from Oberer, and “the developer requires more time to deliver the requested items.”
According to Salmerón, the additional items requested include the following five items:
• A copy of the Environmental Phase 1 report that Oberer commissioned for the property;
• A copy of the Army Corps of Engineers’ Stream Impact permit for the extension of Southgate Avenue;
• An expanded traffic study that includes the intersection of Hyde Road and U.S. 68;
• A rendering of the single-family property that conforms with the Village’s R-A zoning;
• An itemized list of expenses that includes the cost for expanding the pond to accept off-site stormwater, the cost of the proposed park and playground, and the cost of 1.75 acres of property earmarked for affordable housing.
The list of requests reflects questions asked of Council and Oberer in the Dec. 6 meeting, where neighbors to the proposed development spoke of concerns with the increase of traffic on a narrow, country road; the environmental impact of the development; and the lack of input from residents whose properties are nearby.
Since the meeting, a group called Yellow Springs Community Action has started a petition on Change.org. At press time, the petition — titled “Stop Oberer Development — Yellow Springs Community Unite!” — had over 100 signatures from villagers and Yellow Springs business owners.
According to Salmerón, the Village approached Oberer after the company purchased the property in an attempt to create a development that aligned with Village goals and values, including “providing an affordable community” and “supporting residential development.”
“We pursued every opportunity to capture the most value we could,” he said. “The proposal includes a variety of home options, including townhouses, duplexes and single-family homes “at various price points that will be accessible to a broader range of economic classes.”
If the PUD is approved, Oberer will also donate land for park space and playground equipment, and 1.8 acres of land for affordable housing.
Regarding comments about a lack of transparency between the Village and residents neighboring the property, Salmerón said that while there was no community forum, there were several opportunities for residents to speak prior to the Village annexing the property and throughout the PUD process.
“I temporarily transitioned the Manager’s Housing Advisory Board to the Development Agreement Workgroup to provide feedback on the Oberer development project and development agreement,’’ he continued.
According to Salmerón, the group had “at least three meetings” where they discussed the possibility of annexation, the Village’s affordable housing goals and pursuing a PUD. Salmerón also said that Council is in the process of scheduling a work session and possibly a community meeting with Oberer, likely between Jan. 7 and 12.
At its regular meeting Dec. 6, Council heard a first reading of an ordinance approving budgetary appropriations for the 2022 fiscal year. The budget reflects changes made at Council’s Nov. 15 meeting, where Council approved five appropriations, or additional items, totaling $133,000.
Already projecting a deficit of $126,177, Council’s additions to the budget created a larger deficit of $259,177.
After explaining the deficit, Salmerón told Council that the Village would be able to recognize two payments of American Rescue Plan dollars as revenue in order to close the spending gap, leaving the Village with a $63,000 deficit for the 2022 fiscal year.
Salmerón added that recognizing these payments and lowering the deficit would leave the 2022 general fund reserve balance at $1,567,771, which, according to Salmerón, is “well above the 90-day reserve.”
Council member Laura Curliss said that she thought it would be better to have a longer reserve period.
“It takes years to build up a reserve, so future Council people may want to think more conservatively,” she said. “This federal money is literally going to bail us out this year.”
Council member Lisa Kreeger acknowledged the difficulties in budgeting through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are charting the course together and we are trying to do our best,” she said. “There is no one good way based on sound business history.”
Council members Kevin Stokes and Marianne MacQueen commented on the process that Council and Village staff undertook to create the budget.
“I felt a little bad adding to the budget,” Stokes said, “But the additions are on behalf of our constituents.”
“I think every year we have been improving our process, and next year I look forward to integrating Council and staff goals upfront,” MacQueen said. “I feel good about the budget.”
Council President Brian Housh said that he is glad to have the budget done before the beginning of the fiscal year and is thinking of how the process can be better in the future.
“I really want to have participatory budgeting next year so that we have some support around those decisions and that we are making the right calls.”
Council will vote on a second reading of the budget at its Dec. 20 meeting.
In other Village Council business, Dec. 6:
• Council heard a first reading on an ordinance to approve amendments to the Village’s personnel policy manual. Salmerón said that some of the changes reflected policy changes, like Council’s approval of Juneteenth as a paid holiday, and giving part-time staff and Council members access to health insurance.
Village Solicitor Breanne Parcels added that the new manual also included an organizational chart. Council members Curliss, Kreeger and MacQueen said that they would not vote on the policy until they received a document that is “marked up” with highlighted changes to the policy, stating that they were unable to see the changes based on the proposal included in their meeting packet.
Curliss also added that language around legal medical marijuana could be “friendlier.”
MacQueen said that she would like to see a detailed description on how pay increases were issued.
• Council approved $500 for the annual Kwanzaa celebration, which will be held Dec. 27, beginning at 6:30 p.m., and is sponsored by the 365 project. The celebration will be live-streamed to allow for wider community participation.
• A celebration hosted by Village employees and Village Council and commission members will be held Friday, Dec. 17, noon–3 p.m., outside the Bryan Center; the public is invited to attend.