2014-02-15 / News

Mayor gives OK before meeting

By Scott Rawdon

BUCKEYE LAKE – LEADS Community Action Agency has put together another proposal to build single-family houses on vacant lots in Buckeye Lake Village.

Last year, Village Council members rejected a similar proposal. LEADS CEO Kenneth Kempton said the organization hasscheduleda6p.m.publicmeetingon Thursday, Feb. 13, at the Village Hall to talk about the new proposal. Applications for Ohio Tax Credits from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency are due on Feb. 20.

Last February, LEADS’ plans to construct 30 single-family homes for lowincome families failed to get the village’s endorsement when council members refused to move for adoption on the resolution of support’s third and final reading.

Competition for the limited number of tax credits is strong and LEADS believed it needed the points from the village’s endorsement to compete. The agency also needed to have control of several village owned vacant lots to get started. LEADS dropped their Buckeye Lake proposal when council member refused to endorse it.

Members cited fears about promoting more low-income housing and concerns about poor maintenance. Occupants would only have an opportunity to purchase their homes after 15 years.

However, former mayor Rick Baker supported LEADS’ proposal and predicted it would come before the village again this year.

Monday night, current mayor Clay Carroll said Director of Development Mike Cassidy told him LEADS wanted to have a public meeting to propose building single family homes in the village. “I told him I didn’t see a problem with that,” said Carroll. “I figured talking about it doesn’t hurt.”

He said the village is not giving LEADS lots now owned by the village after derelict homes were demolished during the last few years. “This does not have anything to do with us giving them those lots we have where we tore down houses or anything like that,” he said. “They weren’t looking for us to give them anything.”

Carroll said last year that Baltimore’s Village Council first endorsed a similar proposal for low income housing then rescinded it. “I think I’m in favor of it myself,” he said. “I thought it was fine to let them have a meeting.”

Carroll’s support extends beyond just an informational meeting. Without any public discussion with council members, Carroll wrote a January 28, 2014, letter to the Ohio Housing Finance Agency offering his “support on behalf of LEADS and their request for OHFA Housing Tax Credit funding for up to 30 units of Lease Purchase Housing.” His letter continued, “We have been working with LEADS to bring quality affordable housing to the Village of Buckeye Lake and we would appreciate any assistance to that endeavor.”

Council members weren’t aware of Carroll’s letter Monday night. Council member Barry Herron said Monday night he’s concerned LEADS’ rent-to-own proposal with the homes would attract tenants who may not be as willing to maintain the homes as homeowners who purchase homes outright. If tenants don’t have any investment in the property sometimes they are poorly maintained, he explained. Council member Peggy Wells said LEADS would not have exclusive right to village properties. LEADS would have to bid for the properties like everyone else.

Herron said the village only has five or six properties that would suit LEADS’ proposal.

Carroll said John Stock of Stock Development, which would develop the property for LEADS, told the development director that he was still interested in possible development in the Village of Buckeye Lake.

“I feel when the issue came up before it was not fully understood and was more an issue of council having ‘little interest’ than actually rejecting it,” said Carroll Wednesday. “My personal opinion was and is more in line with that of Rick Baker so when (Stock) suggested that he would like to have a public meeting, my response was, sure, why not talk about it? There should be discussions about things whenever possible.”

Carroll said that despite his show of support, the village actually has little to do with the project. “The village really has little involvement, (LEADS) has the right to purchase lots just as anyone else and as long as they build according to our zoning regulations they have the same rights as any other developer or person wishing to do so,” he said.

In a related issue, Cassidy said LEADS agreed to continue to operate the food pantry on West 1st Street for the next 10 years in a building it leases from the village for $1 per year. He said the building would have public water service and LEADS would maintain the building.

Wells wondered if the lease rate was too low.

“The food bank is used now more than ever before,” said council president Jeryne Peterson. “I’m very much for the food banks.”

“I’m not saying to get rid of the food bank at all,” said Wells. She questioned why LEADS is only paying $1 per year to lease the building. “If we can get $300 a month out of a wealthy organization,” then why not charge more, said Wells, adding that LEADS may pay standard rent in other communities. “If they can afford to pay some rent to us, why not check it out,” she said. “That’s all I’m saying.”

• Carroll said he’d like to see a block watch formed for the Myers Addition and he’s looking for volunteers. He said Cranberry Bay has a block watch. “We’ll see if we can get one kicked off for the Myers Addition as well,” Carroll said. He said he would like to invite the same group from the Licking County Sheriff’s Office who helped Cranberry Bay set up its block watch meet with the Myers Addition residents.

• Cassidy said there is a little funding still available from the Moving Ohio Forward Grant – roughly $50,000 to $75,000 for all of Licking County. Previously, Buckeye Lake had access to $50,000 on its own. The money was used to tear down several derelict houses within the village. Cassidy said he hopes Buckeye Lake can enough of the remaining grant money to take down at least one more home.

• Carroll said he received some comments from residents concerned about the Union Street bus stop for Lakewood Bus #10. The stop is the Buckeye Lake Hardware Store overflow parking lot. He said Lakewood Director of Pupil Services Arnie Ettenhofer wrote a letter to parents addressing the concerns. According to Ettenhofer’s letter, “I am not sure all of you know the history of the overflow parking lot beside the Buckeye Lake Hardware store and Union Street. The property owners have graciously allowed parents to use the lot for parking while waiting for bus #10. Previously, the hardware store asked that parents refrain from parking in front of their business and everyone understood. Both lots are “private property.” The property owner has chosen not to pay to have the overflow lot plowed during the winter. That is their choice as the owners. I am sure all of you have appreciated their generosity in good weather.

“The bottom line:

*Bus stops are developed by the Lakewood Local School District.

*We use consolidated stops, meaning we try to assign children to stops that, within reason, are pretty close to their houses.

*Maximum walking distance to a bus stop may be 1/2 mile.

*The Union Street bus stop maxes out at about three blocks.

*Lakewood Local School District does not provide parking at any bus stop for parents.

*If you choose to drive your child to the bus stop, please be mindful of private property owners’ rights.

*Obey all traffic laws that govern parking or blocking public streets. “Please understand the property owners are good ‘neighbors’ and respect their right not to plow the overflow lot in the winter. I also have heard that in the near future the overflow lot will be used for business purposes and will not be available for parking while waiting on the bus. Please plan accordingly,” Ettenhofer wrote.

• ODOT’s closure of Ohio 79 at Ohio 360 to replace a culvert for five to seven days has been postponed indefinitely. Work was to start Feb. 10.

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