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Apr
17
2024
Village Council

On Yellow Springs-Fairfield Road, the speed limit changes drastically from 55 mph to 25 mph — a change in speed, neighbors have said, many drivers don't observe. (Photo by Reilly Dixon)

Village Council talks street safety

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Fairfield Pike, or Yellow Springs-Fairfield Road, runs from U.S. Route 68 through Miami Township, and has been considered dangerous for pedestrians and animals for years. Because it is situated in both the village and Miami Township, the speed changes drastically from 55 in the rural section to 25 in the residential section — a change that many drivers do not observe.

In response to continued calls for monitoring and enforcement, Council members discussed options for slowing down traffic at their most recent meeting Monday, May 1.

Council’s discussion of the dangers of Fairfield Pike was prompted by Council member Marianne MacQueen in response to a letter from Jason Laveck, who wrote to Council prior to the May 1 meeting. MacQueen said it was “unacceptable” to have a dangerous street within the village.

“There must be something we can do,” MacQueen said.

Laveck’s letter is part of an ongoing plea from residents for Council to take action. According to Council’s archives, Laveck’s wife, Esther, wrote a letter for the March 21, 2022, meeting offering suggestions for slowing down traffic. At the time, Esther Laveck wrote that the Village denied requests for a stop sign at the intersection of King Street and Fairfield Pike.

“We would like to offer some alternative solutions,” Esther Laveck wrote, suggesting the Village install a flashing sign or recycled rubber speed bumps. “Please take the safety of our children, our animals and our neighbors as seriously as we do.”

Over a year later, Council had a discussion of the possible speed deterrents that the Village could use in the area. Council member Carmen Brown suggested placing an officer in the area, creating a “speed trap.” Brown gave an example of officers posted on U.S. 68 near Dollar General in efforts to slow down traffic in the area.

“Traffic has slowed down significantly,”  Brown said. “Having an officer on patrol on Fairfield Pike more often than one hour a day will deter traffic.”

Detailing the deaths of pets and her own personal experience as a resident who lives near Fairfield Pike, Brown said it is time to act.

“I’m not particularly pro ticketing people, but it’s time. Tickets work,” she said.

Other suggestions from Jason Laveck included speed humps. At the Council meeting, members discussed the merits of a red light camera, which would electronically monitor speeds and ticket drivers who are over the limit. Village Solicitor Amy Blankenship said that while the speed cameras were effective, the Village would have to submit documentation to the state, and could lose out on state funds.

“Whatever you’ve collected based on those cameras is going to get deducted from the local government funding,” Blankenship said.

According to Blankenship, an officer no longer has to be posted by a speed camera for enforcement. She said the new laws included court costs, and the Village would have to contract with a company that services red light cameras.

Council President Brian Housh said he had been in contact with Greene County representatives to discuss the possibility of installing a stop sign. Housh said he was in favor of a stop sign, but was discouraged by Greene County Engineer Stephanie Goff. Village Manager Josué Salmerón said a stop sign would not deter high speeds.

“It would incentivise people to run the [stop sign] and cause accidents,” Salmerón said.

Salmerón said that signage in the area was in the process of being updated, and that he would assign police officers to the site and increase patrols.

MacQueen said she had also alerted the Active Transportation Committee to work on more long-term solutions.

In an interview following the meeting, Jason Laveck said he was happy that Council spent a portion of their meeting talking about Fairfield Pike.

“Last night’s discussion seemed productive,” he said.

Asked about other potential solutions, Laveck said he would like to see the speed limit taper down incrementally from 55  to 25 mph as vehicles approach the residential area, giving an example of the gradual slow down on 68 as people approach the village from the north or south.

Overall, Laveck said he was hopeful that the Village would find some short- and long-term strategies to reduce speeding.

“It sounds like there’s more people involved now,” Laveck said. “It’s a step in the right direction, and I’m here to be a part of the solution.”

In other Village Council business, May 1:

Zoning Reform

Council unanimously passed a second reading of legislation that would make duplexes and multifamily homes a conditional use in residential districts.

According to Village Solicitor Blankenship, “The conditional use for this process allows for the whole picture to take shape before the process moves forward.”

Because the zoning has been changed to conditional, property owners or builders must first go before the Village Planning Commission and staff, who will be tasked with vetting each project, a process that will include a utilities review to determine whether the infrastructure can handle the load created by denser housing.

The passage of this legislation was accompanied by a series of ordinances that would amend other portions of the zoning code. The other seven first readings included changing the zoning of land annexed into the village from medium density residential to high density residential, permitting residences over retail spaces in the business district, conditionally allowing residences in the industrial district, changing “specific requirements” for dwelling units in nonresidential areas, defining “aid to construction fees” in the zoning code and addressing changes in the residential section in other portions of the zoning code. Each piece of legislation will receive a second reading at the next regular meeting Monday, May 15.

Additional coverage of the May 1 meeting will appear in next week’s issue of the News.

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