2013-03-02 / News

Council will oppose low-income housing project

By Charles Prince

BALTIMORE – In just four weeks council members have moved from unanimously approving a resolution supporting the development of Fairlawn Village to actively opposing it.

Christine Collins, Director of Development for Fairfield Homes Inc. of Lancaster asked council members at their January 28 meeting to support the development “for the purpose of the owner/developer applying for low-income housing tax credits.”

Fairfield Homes is proposing to build 30 single-family homes for Lancaster Fairfield Community Action on Circle Drive. The homes would be reserved for households with incomes at or below 60 percent of the area median income.

Collins told council members that the plan is very similar to the 2009 version except a park would be replaced with a bike path to Johnson Park. Zoning is in place.

Baltimore officials apparently started changing their minds about the project after Donna Fox-Moore of Lancaster Fairfield Community Action told county commissioners that Baltimore has provided a letter of support. The commissioners unanimously agreed to support it as well.

Mayor Robert Kalish was out of town for the Feb. 11 council meeting but wrote members that he believes the Baltimore Planning Commission should have reviewed the project before council supported it. He recommended that council reconsider its support. Members unanimously rescinded the resolution Feb. 11.

The issue came up again at their Feb. 25 meeting. “They didn’t have a letter from us,” council member Tony House said.

“I would like to see that area developed, but not under these circumstances,” council member Jim Hochradel said. He also represents council on the Planning Commission. “We need that development for working families.”

Hochradel added, “We’ve done more than our share for subsidized housing.”

Kalish said the village has an opportunity to comment directly on the proposal to the Ohio Housing Financing Agency. He planned to do his own letter.

“I think we should do one letter,” Hochradel said. Rescinding the resolution only took some points away from the project, he said. A letter would allow the village to actually oppose the project. Council members unanimously approved his motion to write a letter to the agency with all members signing it.

In other business Feb. 25, Kalish reported that Stacie Graves has resigned from the Planning Commission. He told council members that he plans to appoint a replacement at the March 11 council meeting and asked anyone interested in the post to contact him. The commission meets at 7:30 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month. It has an upcoming public hearing on an application for a conditional use permit for a proposed day care facility on Holder Road.

Service Committee chair Jim Hochradel said members set goals for 2013 at their Feb. 12 meeting. The first one is to upgrade the water treatment plant. The village’s water supply wells are “good,” but changes are needed in getting the water from the wells to the plant and in the plant itself. The goal is to extend the life of the plant another 25 years which will give the village time to pay off the wastewater treatment plant debt before incurring more debt for a new water plant.

Another goal is to redefine “capacity fees.” They aren’t the same as tap fees, but rather a payment for a user’s share of the treatment plant capacity. Hochradel said it is currently “very confusing.”

The committee wants to create a priority list for storm water drops needing work. They also hope the last 10 or so fire hydrants can upgraded this year.

In his report, Village Administrator Scott Brown said the sewer line extension to Ohio 37 has about 500 feet to go. The remaining work is being directionally bored.

Police Chief Michael Tussey has created photo identification badges for his officers and will be producing badges for all village employees that have contact with the public outside the village hall.

Council members heard the first reading of 2013 Annual Appropriations ordinance. “The biggest change in appropriations is the way we are tracking the money for water and sewer,” Hochradel explained.

Sewer will now have two line items – collection and treatment. Water will also have two – treatment and distribution. The intent is to give Brown more detailed information on specific costs. Council members will vote on the ordinance at their next meeting set for 7:30 p.m. on Monday, March 11.

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