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Proposed LEADS housing project questioned

BUCKEYE LAKE- Memories of a delayed residential development at Maple Bay prompted Buckeye Lake Village Council member Jeryne Peterson to sharply question a LEADS developer Monday night about plans to build in-fill homes on some soon-to-bevacant lots.

“I’m not sure what you people are asking us to commit to,” Peterson told John Stock of Stock Development. Monday night. A resolution of support for the project was on council’s agenda. LEADS is seeking low-income housing tax credits and needs council’s support. The Community Action Agency proposes to build up to 30 single-family homes in the village for households earning up to 60 percent of area median income. LEADS also needs to have control of several empty village lots to get started.

Peterson said more information is needed. “I think that there are more answers that we need,” she said.

Council Clerk Valerie Hans said the resolution didn’t bind the village legally and was intended to support LEADS’ application for the tax credits.

Mayor Rick Baker said he fully supports the LEADS project. “They really need to have a show of support from the village,” he said. Baker said applications are evaluated on the basis of points. Approving the resolution would give LEADS a critical point, Baker believes. “It was just going to be a point,” he said. “Do we want nice, new homes to go in or not go in?” Baker said the LEADS homes would improve the village.

Peterson said the village welcomed the Landings at Maple Bay development off Hunts Landing Road with open arms several years ago. “The land was stripped and it just stopped. It was a debacle,” she said. Peterson worried LEADS would build more homes that would eventually become derelict. Fifteen or 20 years from now we may have what we just tore down,” she said, adding that council is trying to “lift up” the village with nicer homes. “It’s rush, rush once again. The community deserves more information. What will this do to property values?”

“I’m certainly in favor of anything that’s going to replace what’s been torn down,” said Director of Development Mike Cassidy. He said LEADS proposes to build “cottage” style homes worth roughly $130,000 each. It would bring in 30 more taxpayers,” said Cassidy.

“We thought the Landings on Maple Bay was the same thing,” said Peterson.

Cassidy said he would have “no problem” with LEADS building one of its homes next door to his, where a derelict home was recently demolished.

Stock said those who move into the homes would pay $300 to $600 per month to LEADS, mainly to cover taxes, maintenance, and other expenses. After 15 years, the homes would be available for private purchase.

“I don’t deny anyone a nice house,” said Peterson, but she is concerned that tenants wouldn’t properly maintain them.

Stock said there would be house rules, and LEADS wouldn’t tolerate unkempt properties.

Teresa Groves, LEADS asset management director who was present Monday night, summarized Peterson’s concerns and addressed them for The Beacon in an email Wednesday.

Peterson: Residents of Buckeye Lake will not be able to afford the rent.

Groves: We are comfortable the market can support up to 30 homes.

Peterson: LEADS does not have site control at this time (meaning that LEADS must have permission to build on a certain number of lots to qualify for the tax credit financing, which as of Monday, it did not).

Groves: That is correct. We currently do not have site control, however we are looking at several options and sites and continue to work with the owners.

Peterson: The project may fail.

Groves: The market study will back the need for the project along with having the investors and bank approval. LEADS currently has 38 properties with no failures to date. LEADS has been developing and managing affordable housing since 1990. There is no anticipation that this property would fail.

Peterson: Concerned with the maintenance and yard up keep of the homes.

Groves: There are house rules and regulations the residents must follow per the lease. If these are not followed the residents will receive a lease violation notice and possible eviction if needed. LEADS, OHFA, bank and the investor will professionally manage the project with oversight during the entire compliance period.

Peterson: The resolution asked to be passed is legally binding the council.

Groves: The resolution is not legally binding.

“We look forward to continue working with the Village of Buckeye Lake and the council to make this project a success. We feel this project helps further our mission with our services that we currently provide within the Village of Buckeye Lake,” said Groves.

Former council member Donna

Thompson said she lives in the Blue Heron development north off Mill Dam Road, which LEADS operates, but didn’t build.

“We call that ‘Shantytown,’” she said. “We have a lot of problems up there.” Thompson said necessary repairs aren’t being completed. “We’ve told our concerns over and over and over,” she said. “I’m a resident; I love it there, but it needs work.”

Council member Clay Carroll said the project complies with vil lage zoning regulations.

“Maybe there was not a lot of good communication about the LEADS project,” said council member Kaye Hartman. She said she didn’t remember it coming before a council committee. Hartman many of the questions could have been resolved at that point. “I don’t want to discourage anyone from coming to Buckeye Lake,” she said.

In other council news:

• Council member Kaye Hartman announced her resignation from council Monday night effective Jan. 31. Her letter said, “It has truly been an honor and a privilege to represent the people of the village for the last three years. May God bless you and all the people of Buckeye Lake.”

Hartman said she turns 60 years old Jan. 29 and has 25 years in public service, qualifying her for PERS benefits. “Don’t think I’m backing out for any other reason,” she said. Hartman hopes the village can finally install crosswalks on Ohio 79 and solve the issues with the fire department. “I’m glad I took the position,” she said.

Hans said the village is accepting resumes for the term expiring Dec. 31, 2013, until 3 p.m. on Feb. 20. Hans expects council to appoint a replacement Feb. 25.

• At Council President Charlene Hayden’s direction, council members by secret ballot chose five members of a charter review committee from six candidates. The committee includes former mayor Frank Foster, Parks and Recreation Commission member Annetta Macedonia, and residents Brian Owens, Judy Pyle, and Marie Ray. The sixth candidate, former council member Peggy Wells, was not selected. She predicted the outcome ahead of the vote.

“I’ll be real surprised if I get appointed,” Wells said to council as she expressed her interest in joining. When she served on council, she attended every original charter committee meeting. “I’d like this review to delve deeply into the charter,” said Wells. “We’re asking the mayor to have a lot of responsibility for $6,000 (per year),” she said. Wells wondered if the responsibilities and salaries of the mayor and development director could be combined.

“I’m going to agree with Peggy,” said Baker. He said there are many issues that need to be reviewed. “Being mayor’s not easy, it takes a lot of time,” he said. “You need some time here in the office,” he said.

• Baker said the village hired Vaughn Klingler, formerly assistant superintendent of the Newark water plant, as Buckeye Lake Village’s part-time public works director. Klingler will oversee the village water and street departments. “The charter calls for a public works director,” said Baker. He said Water Department Supervisor Toby Miller remains part-time and Street Superintendent Mark Dymek hasn’t had a supervisor since former service director Tim Matheny retired. Baker said Klingler’s position will pay up to $24 per hour, but he wasn’t hired at that rate. “(Klingler’s pay) won’t be the top end,” said Baker.

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