Village Council outlines next steps for Oberer
- Published: January 3, 2022
The vote to approve a planned unit development, or PUD, for Oberer has been put on hold for now, but Village Council and the developer must make their case to villagers.
At its regular meeting Dec. 20, held virtually via Zoom, Village Council members heard an update on the Oberer PUD process from Village Manager Josué Salmerón. The update included next steps and a timeline for actions before Council takes up the vote again at its Jan. 18 and Feb. 8 meetings.
Council President Brian Housh explained that he had attended a meeting between Dave Chappelle, community members who oppose the development, members of Council, Planning Commission and various business owners. The News was invited to attend on the condition that the meeting was not included in News coverage. Housh said the meeting was recorded, but a recording has not been made available.
Housh said he came away from the meeting with three takeaways.
The first takeaway was a concern that people coming into the village from surrounding areas will “dilute our creative culture.”
“I think that that’s important for us to think about,” he said.
The second takeaway was a concern over the amount of money Oberer was set to make from the project. According to Housh, villagers think that the negotiations between the Village and Oberer could have resulted in more concessions on Oberer’s part. Housh said that he didn’t think that people understood the process that the Village went through while negotiating the terms of the PUD proposal.
Housh’s last takeaway was that there is a “lack of knowledge in a lot of areas,” elaborating by sharing that members of the Planning Commission had commented they were unaware of the process.
“That kind of surprised me,” he said.
Housh ended his initial comments by trying to assure villagers that their questions would be answered at subsequent meetings, which is why the second reading of the ordinance will not appear on the agenda until Tuesday, Jan. 18.
Salmerón followed Housh’s comments by sharing plans for a work session between Council and Oberer representatives on Monday, Jan. 10, 11 a.m.–1p.m. The meeting is open to the public.
According to Salmerón, the meeting is set to discuss the additional items Council requested prior to voting for or against the PUD. Requested items include:
• a copy of the Environmental Phase 1 report that Oberer commissioned for the property;
• a copy of the Army Corp 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 layout that conforms with the Village’s R-A zoning;
• an itemized list of expenses that includes costs of the land earmarked for affordable housing, the cost of expanding the ponds for stormwater retention and the cost of the proposed park and playground.
“But there is a new element to the timeline,” Salmerón said, sharing his growing concern that if Council approves the PUD, the community may decide to repeal the decision by referendum.
According to the Village Charter, 10% of registered voters in the village would have to sign a petition and follow several other steps to have the referendum placed on the ballot. If successful, the measure would be voted on in May or in a special election.
A development project in neighboring Clark County was recently put on hold when voters overturned a decision by Clark County commissioners to rezone 42 acres for a proposed subdivision. The voters who objected to the subdivision cited many of the same concerns as villagers opposed to Oberer: stormwater management, increased density and lack of safety due to increased traffic.
Salmerón said a lot of work is going into the project and that circulating notions that Village Council was not knowledgeable about the project were incorrect.
“That couldn’t be farther from the truth,” he said.
He went on to highlight the value of the land that Oberer would donate to the village for affordable housing units, saying that the lack of developable land made this donation “key to any affordable housing strategy that we could execute.”
“It is something that we wouldn’t otherwise have access to,” Salmerón said.
After Salmerón’s comments, Housh said that he was thinking that a community forum may be appropriate.
Council member Laura Curliss asked how seriously apartment buildings were considered in the negotiation process. Salmerón said that Oberer considered building apartments under the condition that the Village or some other entity would purchase the property and manage the units.
“We walked away from that project because we had a lot of financial and political risk,” Salmerón said. “The best option is this PUD.”
After hearing comments from villagers John and Judith Hempfling, who both spoke in support of the PUD, Housh asked Council members if they would like to schedule a second meeting for community members to voice their opinions. Council member Stokes spoke in favor of having a second meeting.
“We owe it to the citizens to do it,” Stokes said.
He also suggested having a fact sheet for villagers to dispel any misinformation about the process and benefits of a PUD.
MacQueen echoed Stokes’ suggestion, saying that there has been a lot of work done to accomplish what people want as well as data to support moving forward with a PUD.
“We should have that in a pretty accessible format before a community meeting,” she said. “There has been a lot of misinformation or misunderstanding about what our options are.”
Before Housh closed the discussion, Stokes highlighted one of the Village values, which commits to being an open and welcoming community despite race, sexual orientation, gender, age, ethnicity, ecenomic status, physical and mental abilities, or religious affiliation.
“I have a visceral reaction whenever I hear people talking about those ‘other people’ who have moved into our community,” he said. “I just think we need to be careful and consider what our motivation is when we begin an argument submitting that just because you aren’t a part of our community now, we question whether we want you in our community.”
“Every resident of this village who should know that value needs to understand that we want to live it and this is an opportunity to do so,” Stokes said.
After a discussion about how funds were tracked within the budget for special projects, Council unanimously voted for the proposed 2022 budget. Council member Marianne MacQueen asked that updates be given so that monies for special projects are not spent on other items that fall within certain areas of the budget.
Council voted 4–1 to amend the Village Personnel Policy Manual after seeing the proposed changes highlighted throughout the text and suggesting amendments and conditions. Village Solicitor Breanne Parcels said that many of the changes were made in order to be compliant with an audit conducted earlier in 2021. Council member Laura Curliss said that she had many questions about how the decisions were made to change parts of the manual, including a section that extended probationary periods from six months to one year. She was the only “no” vote.
Council passed an ordinance for a fourth quarter supplemental to the budget totaling $226,000.
The total supplemental included $10,000 for possible staff overtime due to inclement weather, $124,000 in matching funds for the demolition of the power plant in Glen Helen, and $92,000 to pay AMP power.
Council passed an ordinance to approve Employee Regulations that had not been updated since 2001. Council Member Lisa Kreeger questioned why the policing vision was written in lieu of the Village values for policing, and asked that the values be added to the document. MacQueen said that the policing vision had been written by former Police Chief Brian Carlson. Council passed the ordinance unanimously under the condition that there be a joint work session between Council and Village Staff to discuss the document in the first quarter of 2022 and that both the policing vision and the Village policing values statement be included in the document.
Council passed a resolution to raise employee wages by 2.5% with consideration to cost of living adjustments, the Village’s financial status, and the Consumer Price Index, which showed a rise in the cost of food and electrical services.
Council passed a resolution to enter into an agreement with the Ohio Department of Transportation in order to begin construction of sidewalk and curb ramps.
Council unanimously passed a resolution to celebrate Karen McKee’s contribution to the village. McKee, who recently passed away, was a part of the police chief and village manager search committees for which she helped review policy; the James A. Mckee Association; The 365 Project; Yellow Springs nonprofit networking; the Wheeling Gaunt Sculpture project; Courageous Conversations; and the Yellow Springs Senior Center. The resolution honored her service to the community with a commemorative plaque that will hang in the Bryan Center, and participants observed a moment of silence during the meeting.
In other Council business, Dec. 20:
• Salmerón said that the annual ball drop is still slated to take place, but growing concerns for public safety due to the rise in COVID-19 cases throughout the county may cause organizers to cancel the event. An official decision on the event will be made on Monday, Dec. 27.
• The Village Utility Office window will be closed to the public until at least Dec. 27 due to staffing issues caused by the rise in COVID-19 cases among employees. Villagers will still receive utility services and may continue to pay their bills by phone, via the Village utilities website, or the dropbox located outside the Bryan Center.
• A mobile mammography event is slated for Thursday, Jan. 27. Appointments are requested, but walk-ins are welcome.
• YS Home, Inc. announced that they have received $200,000 in grant monies to help villagers pay for home repairs. Villagers can apply for funds through Home Inc. on a first come first served basis.
• Luke Dennis approached Council on behalf of WYSO asking the Village to apply for a grant for $250,000, which would enable WYSO to purchase new broadcasting and recording equipment.
According to Dennis, receiving the grant money will allow WYSO to reinvest in the community by creating jobs and investing in the “cultural vitality” of Greene County. Housh said that pursuing the grant would bump another project. Salmerón said that the project that would be bumped would be a grant to pay for an extension of the road leading from the Cresco property. He noted that the WYSO project would likely score higher and receive more grant money than the road project.
• Council members bid farewell to Curliss, whose last meeting as a member of Council was Dec. 20. Members spoke about her knowledge of topics and attention to details, saying that they’d come to appreciate the questions she asked about various initiatives and legislation. Curliss said she valued her time on Council and stated she was only a phone call away. She said she plans to continue her involvement by working with villagers organizing throughout the community.