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Village Council

Early last year, the Village of Yellow Springs closed on a deal to purchase the apartment building at 10 Lawson Place. Final sale for the 16-unit apartment was $770,000. (Photo by Matt Minde)

Village Council considers more local housing options

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Several potential housing projects were brought to the table at the most recent Village Council meeting Monday, Aug. 21.

In a memo to Council members, outgoing Village Manager Josué Salmerón outlined four Village-owned sites suitable for various future housing options: three acres near the corner of Corry and President streets, the downtown gravel parking lot on Railroad Street, an addition to the Lawson Place apartments and 43 acres at Glass Farm.

While no formal decisions to pursue any of the options were made at the Council meeting, Salmerón indicated the memo’s purpose was to remind Council members and the public that the Village administration took seriously the recommendations outlined in a 2018 housing needs study completed by Bowen National Research, which pointed to a need for both affordable housing and multifamily dwellings in Yellow Springs.

According to the two-page document presented to Council, the addition to Lawson Place — which has the potential for the creation of eight additional units — has the highest priority among the options Salmerón outlined for Council. The Village purchased the 16-unit complex in 2021.

“We prioritized these projects by looking at the feasibility of the developments — the size, scope, access to utilities and challenges around the property,” he said.

Owing to the large scope of the Glass Farm project — a subdivision that could potentially site up to 343 units — it has the lowest priority of the four development options outlined.

“A low priority means more work and presents particular challenges that we need to wait on,” Salmerón said. What those challenges are, he didn’t say.

Salmerón’s memo suggests that a Glass Farm development would extend from the planned Spring Meadows development on the neighboring 23-acre site at 402 N. Wright Street. Fischer Homes — the homebuilding company tasked with erecting the 90 single-family dwelling units at Spring Meadows — may partner with Habitat for Humanity for Greater Dayton to create a future Glass Farm subdivision.

“Both [Fischer Homes and Habitat for Humanity] have expressed interest in replicating a successful model from North Carolina,” the memo read. “‘Weavers Grove’ is a mixed-income community in Chapel Hill, North Carolina that offers affordable homeownership to Habitat families and market-rate homebuyers. … Out of the 237 single-family homes, townhomes, duplexes and condominiums [in Weavers Grove], 101 will be Habitat homes.”

The memo also said that by replicating the Weavers Grove model in Yellow Springs, and adding additional rental units and apartments to the Village stock, a more “diverse, mixed-income community that offers housing options for low- to moderate-income families” would be created.

The three-acre parcel near the intersection of Corry and President streets, which sits next to the Section 8 apartments owned by Greene Metropolitan Housing Housing Authority, has the potential to be the future site of 35 units. However, before any development is approved, the Village must have the land deeded back to the municipality from Greene Metropolitan — a process which has already begun, Council President Brian Housh told the News in a follow-up interview.

Discussions around all these proposed housing projects, Housh said, will likely slow down in the coming weeks. With Salmerón vacating his role as village manager at the beginning of September, and Public Works Director Johnnie Burns assuming the role as interim manager, Council and staff want to ensure a smooth transition before getting too ambitious with new large-scale projects.

“We’re going to take a short break until we put on the gas,” Housh said. “That will give the housing committee, Council and staff the time to get more buy-in to move these things forward. But Johnnie indicated to us that he doesn’t want to hit the breaks for too long.”

Traffic calming measures

Later in Monday’s Council meeting, the group once again turned its attention to traffic concerns in Yellow Springs — a continuation of the ongoing discussions spurred by a fatal accident on July 4, when local resident Isaac Powers, 15, was struck by a vehicle while biking near Ellis Park.

In addition to the trimming back of some of the foliage in the right-of-way along the bike trail spur where the fatality occurred — foliage that may have obstructed Powers’ view of oncoming traffic — new bike trail stop signs at the crossing were erected in recent weeks.

As Council member Carmen Brown told the group, she and Planning Commission member Scott Osterholm met with Greene County Commissioner Rick Perales on Aug. 10 at the site of the accident. At the meeting, Brown said Perales took several photos of both sides of the bike path where it intersects with Polecat Road. By 10 a.m. the following day, the two stop signs on the path were replaced.

“One sign was completely bleached and the other was smaller than the standard stop sign,” Brown said. “Now, the new ones are full-sized with street indicators.”

Housh indicated he wanted to take further actions to calm traffic there and elsewhere in Yellow Springs. He proposed that the Village should purchase traffic cameras to deter speeding drivers entering and exiting municipal limits. Drivers in violation of the speed limit would be cited and fined.

“I’ve been talking about it forever, but now I think we should really move forward with it,” Housh said. “One thing that Council keeps hearing is enforcement, enforcement, enforcement. Let’s see what happens.”

Housh said at the meeting that he was inspired by a similar approach to traffic calming instituted in Toledo, where he said officials aren’t so interested in generating revenue as they are about safety.

“I think a couple speed cams are going to be a minimal investment and will allow our officers to focus on other things,” he said.

In addition to speed cameras, Housh said he also supported the creation of rumble strips on Polecat Road, as well as county-backed education campaigns on traffic and biking safety as well as “sight line” studies that may identify additional unsafe locations throughout the village.

Council members agreed to continue the discussion on speed cameras and other traffic calming measures at the upcoming Village Council meeting Tuesday, Sept. 5.

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