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Council won’t support LEADS’ housing proposal

BUCKEYE LAKE – Plans to construct 30 single-family homes for low income families in Buckeye Lake Village didn’t even get to a vote at Monday night’s council meeting.

LEADS, Licking County’s Community Action Agency, sought a resolution of support from the village for its application for low income housing tax credits. The agency also needed to have control of several villageowned vacant lots to get started. The resolution of support would give LEADS a critical point in the competition for the credits which are awarded on the basis of points.

The resolution was on the agenda for its third and final reading, but died when no one moved for its adoption. “Are we going to let this drop? You’re kidding,” Mayor Rick Baker said. “LEADS would be putting nice homes in these lots. It’s got to be good for the neighborhoods.”

Council member Jeryne Peterson said she is not in favor of promoting low-income housing. “That’s what we already have,” she said.

Director of Development Mike Cassidy said he was disappointed council didn’t approve the resolution. He said residents, earning up to 60 percent of area median income, would pay $400 to $600 per month to live in the homes and after 15 years there would be an option to buy.

“They don’t own the house,” said Peterson. “This is government housing.” She feared the homes wouldn’t be properly maintained and would eventually collect broken down vehicles. “I have many reasons why I don’t think this is a benefit for the village,” said Peterson.

“I’m very disappointed in council,” said Baker Tuesday. “This is a no-brainer to me.” He believes LEADS is ready to back out of the project following the meeting. “I was flabbergasted. Why can’t they consider this?” Baker believes the LEADS project would further his goal of “cleaning up” the village. “It would be a real positive for Buckeye Lake,” he said.

Wednesday, LEADS Asset management Director Teresa Groves confirmed Baker’s belief in an email. Groves said, “LEADS has postponed work on the application for tax credits to Ohio Housing Finance Agency under the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program for single family lease to purchase homes in the Village of Buckeye Lake due to the lack of interest by the Buckeye Lake Village Council. We believe the Buckeye Lake Village Council has missed a great opportunity for the construction of new and high quality affordable housing for the residents of the village if the application had been approved. LEADS would like to thank Mayor Baker, Development Director Cassidy and Council President (Charlene) Hayden for their support of this project.”

In other council news:

• Former council member Peggy Wells continued her rally for change in the Buckeye Lake Fire Department’s management. “We have some dedicated folks at the fire station,” she said. But, Wells said she still disagrees with its management.

Wells said she recently drove her mother to the emergency room twice due to her lack of confidence in the department’s EMS services. “It’s bad when you’re worried about the delay in response,” said Wells.

She said issues with management are too numerous to discuss in the time allowed before council. But she offered one example from the recent trailer fire on West First Street. Fire Chief Pete Leindecker called for the department’s thermal imager, failing to realize that it has been out of service for about two years. The device detects hot spots for firefighters and is also used to locate people and pets in a burning structure.

Wells urged council to address department management. “Get going on these issues, it’s way past time,” she said. “Mayor make haste on this. Somebody is going to die.”

Former council member Donna Thompson disagreed. She believes Wells has a personal vendetta against Fire Chief Pete Leindecker. “Leave it outside and take it up with him,” said Thompson. “I’ve never had a problem with any of our department. (Wells) is tearing down things that are good in Buckeye Lake.”

Tuesday, Baker said he and council member Clay Carroll planned to talk to Hebron administration about possibly contracting for some EMS services. “We’re kicking things around,” he said.

• Peterson warned people to stay off the ice on Buckeye Lake, particularly after a man was pulled Sunday from the lake near the spillway along Ohio 79. According to a Buckeye Lake Police Department report, the man fell in the water after trying to rescue his dog from the water. Knapp was transported to Licking Memorial Hospital for hypothermia. “It looks fun, but it can be dangerous,” said Peterson, who suggested people call ODNR for ice thickness before attempting to walk on it. However, it’s ODNR’s policy that no one should ever venture onto the ice and ODNR will not give recommendations.

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