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Village Council

Village Council to increase zoning and permit fees

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Amidst a flurry of first-readings, Village Council members heard a first reading for legislation that would raise planning and zoning fees at their most recent meeting on Monday, Feb. 6.

The legislation, a part of Council’s long-term goal of raising revenues for the Village, was re-introduced after Council President Brian Housh and Village Manager Josué Salmerón scrapped an ordinance with more modest fee increases at the Tuesday, Jan. 17, meeting.

Planning and Zoning Administrator Denise Swinger gave a short overview of the legislation, offering a rationale for the additional fee hikes.

“We went ahead and changed a few things, and that was mainly based on the increased advertising cost at the Yellow Springs News,” Swinger said.

The News increased its advertising rates from $10 per column inch to $11 per column inch in July 2022. The Village, which receives a discounted rate due to the number of ads they place, saw a fee increase from $8 per column inch to $9 per column inch.

Giving some examples of the proposed fee increases, Swinger said a conditional use variance request would go from $100 to $200. The legislation also includes changes to new construction zoning permits. For a single family dwelling, the fee will go from $35 to $150. Multi-family and commercial construction, which has a current rate of $35 plus $10 per residential unit over four and/or 1,000 square feet over 5,000 commercial, will now have a flat fee of $300.

“Originally [the fee] was barely anything at all,” Swinger said.

In addition to raising the rates for application, the Village is looking to curtail those who build without going through the zoning department. The current fine is the cost of the application plus 50%.

“We are now proposing doubling that,” Swinger said, saying the fine would now be double the cost of the permit fee.

Council President Brian Housh said he appreciated the time to take a deeper dive into the fee schedule and voiced his favor for the crack-down on people who do not obtain the correct permit. He also noted changes to fees for placing dumpsters on the street.

“We often see big dumpsters hanging out in the street for months on end, and so one of the changes is addressing that,” Housh said.

Housh also highlighted the attempts to bring the zoning fees in congruence with those from municipalities like Kettering and Oakwood.

“I think Denise and the team made some great recommendations,” Housh said.

In other Council business, Feb. 6:


• Council passed a resolution adopting the 2023 Village goals, which they recently established at a retreat. Priorities include:

– Supporting infrastructure and high-quality service;

– Promoting affordability balanced with quality of life for the well-being of all residents;

– Facilitating the development of affordable and market-rate housing; and

– Achieving a structurally balanced budget.

– Council members discussed the scope of each goal, highlighting action items.

Council unanimously passed the resolution, saying they believed the goals to be broad enough to accomplish action items and plan for future actions. Housh said that items not on the priorities list would not be abandoned, referencing a citizen review board proposal, which is not in the 2023 priorities document.

“It doesn’t mean it can’t be added back on,” Housh said.

• Council heard the first reading of an ordinance outlawing text-based communication while driving that would bring the village in line with laws from the State of Ohio. Police Chief Paige Burge commented that distracted driving is a leading cause of accidents and the ordinance would make texting while driving a primary offense instead of a secondary offense.

“We can actually make a stop based on the observation of the offense alone rather than citing for the offense after making a stop for another offense,” Burge said.

Anyone caught using text-based communication while driving will be charged with an unclassified misdemeanor, incurring fines of up to $150.

Council heard first readings of two ordinances creating positions within the police and public works departments. The first of the two ordinances creates a position of deputy chief for the police department; the second creates a lineworker position for the public works department.

Council will hear second readings for the aforementioned ordinances at their next meeting, Tuesday, Feb. 21.

Climate Action Goals

Council member Marianne MacQueen gave Council a brief update on the Climate Action Sustainability Plan, or CASP, which is being coordinated through Agraria Center for Regenerative Practice. MacQueen said Florintina Rodriguez had been hired as the CASP coordinator and is currently working through the onboarding process.

MacQueen also said the Environmental Commission used their retreat time to work on a list of goals that they would like to see the Village adopt, but she held off on discussing the goals until after she met with senior Village staff members such as Public Works Director Johnnie Burns and Salmerón to determine which of the goals would be best suited for the Village.

Volunteer program

Council member Carmen Brown said that there has been a lot of communication from villagers who want to volunteer with the Village in a more official capacity, but are not able to due to liability issues. Brown said that Council would need to draft legislation to adopt a policy. Emphasizing the need to reduce costs for citizens, Brown said the ideal policy would allow for background checks — which, for example, are required for anyone working with children — at little to no cost to the volunteer.

“We don’t want this to be cost prohibitive for people,” Brown said.

Brown outlined next steps for the volunteer program, including working on a draft policy and establishing a volunteer base through a collaboration with the Yellow Springs Community Foundation’s volunteer portal. According to a memo in the Council packet, Brown expects to bring a resolution for a volunteer policy at one of the two March meetings.

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