Monday, December 21, 2009

VC: Hydro projects, Open Meetings, ACLU, Commissions--you?

Dear People: I went for a long walk with my dogs down the bike path Sat & Sun, enjoying the lovely snow... before I tire of the earth's iron hardness, and start longing for spring. There's a poem by Christina Rossetti at the end of this memo which provides the gorgeous words to my favorite Christmas carol. (If you want to hear/view the song, sung by the King's College Cambridge Choir, click here. You can listen while you read, if you wish!)

The wrong agenda was placed in our packets by mistake, so I've attached the electronic one that Karen Wintrow kindly made, just as an FYI, and used it to structure my typed comments in italics, below.

IN COUNCIL CHAMBERS December 21, 2009

Comments from the Public are welcomed at two different times during the course of the meeting: (1) Comments on items not on the Agenda will be heard under Citizens Concerns, and (2) Comments on all items listed on the Agenda will be heard during Council’s consideration of said item. A Sign-In sheet will be made available on the small table at the rear of the Council Chambers.


Personnel/Evaluation of Village Manager

This portion of the meeting is a "special meeting" because, in order to accommodate the schedules of the current Council and of former Council member Kathryn Van der Heiden, who will be participating in the Village Manager review, we decided on Thursday to schedule this prior to the meeting rather than afterwards, as would be our usual practice. We notified the YS News office of this change of schedule, and placed notices in the Bryan Center and the Library, and also posted information about the change on our Village website.

I would like to assure everyone that we do endeavor to avoid last minute schedule changes, and special emergency meetings, whenever possible. (And, to clarify: no public legislation will result from this special executive session, as it is strictly a personnel matter).

I would also like to
remind all citizens that they may still comment on the performance of Mark Cundiff during this first year; if you send your comments to me as soon as possible, but by this afternoon, at the latest, I will endeavor to forward them to our acting Clerk and all Council members prior to the meeting.



The Clerk will receive and file:
AMP Newsletter(s) re: December 7, 2009
Cities & Villages OML Magazine re: November/December Issue
Greene County Clerk of Courts re: Injunction Notice

[This is the official injunction regarding the improperly noticed meeting from last week. We are working to clarify our notification procedures for ourselves and for villagers so that these problems do not arise again.]

Time Warner re: Notice of Contract Expirations with Programmers & Broadcasters

Tecumseh Land Trust re: Fall 2009 Newsletter
OML re: Legislative Committees – Week of December 13
Greene County Public Library re: December Holiday Closings/January Programs
AMP OSHA re: Safety Training Schedule for 2010

Regional Planning & Coordinating Commission of Greene County (RPCCGC), re: request for representative designation for 2010

The new Council rep to RPCCGC for 2010 will be yours truly.


Second Reading and Public Hearing on Ordinance #2009-16 Participation in AMP Hydro Project : As I mentioned in my notes from the past couple of meetings, we have voted in our first round to support these two new AMP hydroelectric projects. We wanted clarification about the exact amount of megawatts that these two hydro projects will provide; Mark explains that at 1.7 MW total from these two new projects, they should provide up to 42.5% of our current baseload power needs.

When we add in the wattage from the other AMP hydro project we signed onto last year, that makes for a total of 2.120 MW of hydro powered energy total, or 53% of our total baseload needs. As Mark notes, "If through energy conservation we reduce our base load needs, we can achieve an even higher percentage of baseload energy from renewable resources."

While no energy investment is without risk, I believe this is a good way for us to serve our baseload power needs and seek to reduce our carbon footprint.

Second Reading and Public Hearing on Ordinance #2009-18 Two-Way Metering.

Staff suggests tabling this so we can get the needed feedback from the ETF on the questions we raised about the possible effects of increasing the allowable wattage on our current electric grid.

First Reading and Public Hearing on Ordinance #2009-19 2010 Temporary Budget as an Emergency

This looks like a normal minor budget reallocation, but I expect we'll have a brief presentation from Sharon Potter

First Reading on Ordinance #2009-20 Policy on Notification of Public Meetings

We're trying to establish clear rules for all bodies of Council--Committees, etc.--and to incorporate notification through our website, which probably didn't exist when these rules were last revised.

Resolution #2009-48 Recognition of a Local Endeavour to Implement a YS Community Time Bank

I thought we were approving John Booth's writing of a letter, with the help of the HRC. So I think we will not focus on this Resolution, but on the letter he has composed.

Resolution #2009-49 Awarding Street Light Replacement Contract

Resolution #2009-50 Awarding Library Building Evaluation Contract

Both of these resolutions, for differing reasons, are being withdrawn. The Street Light contract because Mark feels he needs the ETF to review them, and the library conflict because of a conflict of interest concern, which Mark's memo does not go into great detail about. I imagine we will discuss both of these in a bit more detail at the meeting tonight.

III. CITIZENS CONCERNS (Clerk will collect Sign-Up Sheets)


Surveillance Cameras – Presentation by ACLU

WSU’s CUPA Retention & Expansion Study

We don't have any further information in our packets about these two items; we are asked to bring our copies of the CUPA Retention & Expansion survey which we received last October.

Greene Metropolitan Housing Assn. Continued Discussion re: Tax Exemption

The 'good' news, in a way, is that this isn't really our decision to make at some level: the GMHA was coming to us as an act of good will and good faith. The real story, to me, is that for over 30 years they have paid taxes to us that they were not required by law to pay, by not filing their tax-exemption papers. They cannot afford this any longer, to best serve their clients. They would like our understanding and support as they file for their tax-exempt status, allowed them by federal/state laws.

They offer in a letter to "make a payment in lieu of taxes" to the Village, "based on 10 per cent of rents collected from the tenants." It's my understanding that this is a fairly standard practice that they use in other places. (I will ask about whether that could be shared with the schools). At any rate, I support this move, and thank them for their generosity over the years.

Economic Sustainability Board

Judith is still working on this; I believe it will be tabled until our next meeting.

Update on Clerk of Council and Treasurer Positions

I am working on the Clerk applications with John Weithofer; the Treasurer application deadline is today!

Commissions, Committees and Boards - Terms of Office Discussion

There are terms ending, new possibilities. John Streuwing's term as head of the Planning Commission is up as of the end of this month (12/31/09); Ted Donnell's on the Board of Zoning Appeals also ends that date; And all three members of the board of Tax Appeals are actually on expired terms! (John Hart, Tony Bent, and Richard Zopf, terms expired on 7/31/09. We will obviously be speaking to each of these men about their interest in continuing--and it seems to me we need a better system of alerting us to the expiration of position. However, if you are interested in any of these positions, please let me know. Democracy requires that all positions be considered open to any qualified resident.

Codified Ordinances Update

This is one of those places where we miss Deborah's knowledge and long history--we missed a deadline a few weeks ago during her illness for American Legal, which is the publisher of our Codified Ordinances. We can work around this, using supplements. I believe Denise will explain the issues at our meeting.


No Rep. Community Council
Lori Askeland Environmental Commission
Lori Askeland Planning/Bike Com/N Gateway
Rick Walkey Village Mediation Program
John Booth Human Relations Commission
Judith Hempfling Energy Task Force
Judith Hempfling Community Resources
Rick Walkey Library Commission
Lori Askeland Reg. Planning Commission-Greene County
Karen Wintrow Cable Advisory Panel
Karen Wintrow Chamber of Commerce
Karen Wintrow Miami Valley Regional Planning
Karen Wintrow Visioning Steering Committee

The next meeting of the Council of the Village of Yellow Springs will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, January 4, 2009 in Council Chambers, John Bryan Community Center - 100 Dayton Street.

Items for discussion on Monday, January 4, 2009:

Bryan Center Guidelines

X. FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS: Let me know if you see anything you'd like more info on, or that you'd like to comment on, or whatever!
Village’s Investment Summary/EDRLF Report
Verizon Wireless Update
MVRPC/Going Places/Resolution
Electric /capacity, contracts, capital projects, equipment
Green Space Legislation
Personnel Policy Manual Update
Guidelines for Utility Resolution Dispute Commission
Marking State Route 68 Bikeway
Conservation Easement-Well Fields
Parks and Recreation Master Plan
Calamityville Presentation
Short Street – Park/Gathering Space
Update on Safe Routes to Schools
Budget Sessions
Council’s Goals Session
Council Retreat
Northern Gateway Decision to MVRPC

In the Bleak Mid-Winter, by Christina Rossetti

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air,
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.

With my skeptical faith and all my heart, I do wish you all a wonderful holiday season, whatever your faith may be--


Monday, December 14, 2009

VC Update & PC Tonight: 2 Conditional Use Requests, PUD process; historic preservation

Dear People: Thanks to all those who turned out for the Visioning workshop on Saturday. I don't know the statistics, but there was a good sized crowd in the gym, and the smaller group I was in was actually fairly large--I didn't count, but I'd say 12-14?--and lively. Tonight (Mon 12/14) is the Planning Commission meeting, 7 pm in the Bryan Center. I'll discuss that in the majority of this note.

COUNCIL UPDATE: I have to provide a Council Update at every Planning Comm. meeting, and we've had so many meetings, I'll write it out here:

I. Last Friday afternoon (12/11) Village Council held a special meeting from 4:30-6:30, that was well attended by villagers, focused on the request to allow Community Solutions to partner with two regional, private firms in a bid for a federal "stimulus" grant for energy efficiency retrofitting. The grant had an extremely short turn-around time. While it was short notice, and I have many questions still, the opportunity seemed very good, and, if the group is selected for the grant, we will read it at that time and have been assured by our attorney that we will be able to say "this isn't what we thought we were signing up for" and decline to be a part of it. So I voted for it, and it passed on a 4-1 vote, with most Council members agreeing with my reasoning.

II. At last Monday's (12/7) Village Council meeting we:

1. passed an ORDINANCE: 2nd reading on AMP Hydroelectric projects--these look really good and will help supply our base load needs.
2. tabled ORDINANCE: 1st reading on 2-Way Metering: this would allow people who are generating power (e.g., via solar panels) to sell excess energy back to the grid. We want more information from the ETF about some of the details regarding the maximum wattage that could be produced under this revision to our ordinance.
3./4. passed RESOLUTIONS (2) renewing Staff health insurance & health savings accounts and Dental insurance
5. Discussed the hiring for Clerk of Council, Treasurer, and filing clerk. I will be working with John Weithofer to pre-sort and "tier" the over 150 applications for Clerk of Council; Treasurer applications are still being accepted!

We continue to mourn the passing of Deborah Benning, our beloved Clerk of Council, who served in that role for 17 years.

6. Discussed Stutzman's Property:
We're planning to write up a request for proposals for renting the property; Chris Roberts volunteered to help us get good maps for prospective renters.
7. Rejected Time Banking financial request, on the advice of our lawyer but most of us support the concept and the work of the creators
8. We have clarified (since our meeting) that the Greene County Metropolitan Housing exemption is available for them to take without our action. We have notified the school board, which will lose some tax revenues, some of which can be regained through applying for federal support. While it seems to now be a moot point, I support them in this action because the money they save will be reinvested in this property, rather than going to Washington DC for a second mortgage.
9. Approved Village Manager Evaluation Forms for staff and Council. Please feel free to give feedback (as a resident) about your experiences with and impressions of Mark Cundiff's work in the next week or so.
10. Discussed the Water/Sewer Rates: The bad news: our water rates are not keeping up with costs; The good news: our sewer rates are solidly in the black. We need to raise our water rates, which have not been raised for many years. We are contemplating raising water rates by 10% each of the next two years; 5% each of the following two, and then a simple 3% annually thereafter.

III. We also held a special meeting with the Township Trustees and ACP, on Nov. 30th, receiving an update of their "Visioning" work with us.
That information is summarized in the documents on our website. In short: strong turnout, reasonably equitable representation, and excellent feedback from participants.

IV. We also held our first meeting of the new Council since the last election on Nov. 16th, where new members were inaugurated and new committee assignments were made. I am continuing my work on Planning Commission and will now serve on the Greene County Planning Commission. (Karen Wintrow will continue on MVRPC). Rick Walkey will be serving on Environmental Commission and Library Commission.

V. Future: We will be holding a special meeting with Community Resources on January 13th.


1. REPORTS from Council, Bike Enhancement, Village Staff and Miami Township Zoning Commission.
Speaking of Bike Enhancement, have you noticed the new street markings for the "sweet spot" that marks a sensor that allows bikes to trip the traffic signals? Look for them, and please do use them when you're biking around town!

  1. 111 N. Winter Street (old Jail House). The owner of this property received a conditional use request for creating a low-impact, alternative veterinary practice for small animals on the first floor of this property earlier this year. In his new application letter, the owner notes that he did not realize that renting out the apartment on the second floor on a short term basis required a second permit. The second permit is not for bed and breakfast or hotel but "short term rental." One neighbor is concerned about the plan to create a parking lot behind the current garage and the effects on their adjacent property; a second neighbor is concerned about increased on-street parking and the general affect on the neighborhood as a whole of having two businesses there. I will listen carefully to this presentation. I support mixed use neighborhoods, and there seems to be a demonstrated need for this sort of housing, but need to have a better picture of overall neighborhood impact of this added business to the neighborhood.
  2. 234 Grinnell Road (Waste-Water Treatment Plant--WWTP): The upgrades to the WWTP in order to bring it into compliance with EPA regulations requires that 3 small buildings be constructed as part of the project: a "screen building"; a "phosphorus treatment building" and a covered "sludge storage building." The WWTP is located in a conservation zoning district, and requires conditional use permit for any new construction. Staff recommends we approve this request.
  1. PUD Subdivision regulations review: Woolpert's looked at our process; we are working through their recommendations, which I believe I have described in an earlier note. They were to be at our last meeting, but were not. They will be there tonight for this discussion.
  2. Historic Preservation: We are working through Mark's suggested revision. We may not get to this tonight, if the earlier business takes too much time, but we are not in a rush.
I hope this is useful!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Special Meeting Tomorrow Afternoon (4:30 pm), Visioning Saturday

Dear People: Tomorrow night (Friday, the 11th), Council will be holding a special meeting at 4:30 pm, in the Bryan Center, in order to discuss a proposal, from a local and a regional group, requiring the Village's participation, that might 1) bring in stimulus dollars and 2) help reduce our energy usage. We welcome your thoughts, input, and attendance at the meeting.

I would also remind everyone that the next round of Yellow Springs / Miami Township Vision is Saturday morning:

Goals and Values Workshop

Saturday, December 12 / 10:00am to 12:30pm / Yellow Springs High School Gym

Dreams were shared in the Round 1 Idea Gathering Workshops. Now Let’s build the ideas into goals for the future in Round 2.

(Obviously, I will be at this meeting, not in my normal office hours on Saturday!)

Here's Mark Cundiff's memo about the energy efficiency grant proposal, and below that is the agenda of the special meeting:

"One of the funding programs under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (AARA or “Stimulus Program”) is a grant program called the Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant (EECBG). The EECBG program’s goal is to develop and implement projects to improve energy efficiency and reduce energy use and fossil fuel emissions. An ETF member, Pat Murphy, who also is the Executive Director of Community Solutions, brought up the idea of the Village, in a partnership with Community Solutions and a private firm out of Miami County, submitting a grant application to the EECBG program at the ETF’s regular meeting on November 24th. At that meeting, several questions were raised about the program. Subsequently, it was arranged for a representative of the private firm to come to Yellow Springs to meet with the ETF at their next regular meeting that was held on December 7th.

The grant proposal, which is still being developed, calls for the development of a pilot program to make energy efficiency through retro-fits more affordable. The grant money would be used in the development of a replicable energy audit and retrofitting process that would efficiently evaluate a structure for energy inefficiencies and make the necessary retrofits in a very cost effective manner, and for some “on the ground” testing of the model. This system could then be transferred to communities all over the United States for implementation, providing opportunities for the start-up of new businesses to do the energy retrofits while reducing energy usage.

The grant application needs to be submitted by a unit of local government or by a non-for-profit organization authorized by and on behalf of the unit of local government. I made it clear in the meeting that the Village did not have the administrative capacity at this time to submit the grant application, let alone administer the program should the project get funded. Pat Murphy indicated that Community Solutions could provide this administrative capacity and would be willing to do so.

The deadline for submitting applications to the EECBG Program is December 14, 2009 at 11:59 p.m. There is $63.68 million available under this grant program, which is open to all Formula ineligible local units of government (municipalities under 35,000 in population and counties under 200,000 in population) in the United States. The maximum grant award is $5.0 million, and the minimum grant award is $1.0 million. The program is being administered through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and they anticipate awarding 15-60 grants. Communities receiving EECBG grants will be notified around March 15, 2010, with the grants being awarded around May 15, 2010. The performance period for these grants will be 36 months, but funds will need to be obligated within 18 months of the effective date of the award.

After hearing about the grant proposal and having the opportunity to have questions answered and have a dialogue about the proposal, the ETF passed a motion to recommend that Village Council authorize Community Solutions to submit on behalf of the Village an EECBG application.

The Village’s participation is needed since a unit of local government is needed to apply for the grant. This authorization is only for the submittal of a grant application. Future authorizations from Village Council will be required to enter into any grant agreements. It is anticipated that any in-kind Village contributions of staff time will be minimal and there will be no expenditure of Village funds on the development and submittal of this grant application."

Stay warm!
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Clerk of Council <>
Date: Wed, Dec 9, 2009 at 11:42 AM
Subject: FW: Special Council Meeting Materials



IN COUNCIL CHAMBERS @ 4:30 pm December 11, 2009




Resolution #2009-47 Authorizing Community Solutions to Submit an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Application




“The Village of Yellow Springs is committed providing reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities. The Council meeting is wheelchair accessible. Any person requiring a disability accommodation should contact the City Clerk’s Office at 767-9126 or via e-mail at for more information.”

Dec. 7 Meeting Agenda Posting

(Delayed--my apologies; I was scrambling between work and dinner and the meeting when I wrote this, and neglected to take the next step and post it. )

Dear People! Well, another big meeting, and I'm just scrambling to get a note out to everyone. It's going to have to be quick!

1. ORDINANCE: 2nd reading on AMP Hydroelectric projects--these look really good and will help supply our base load needs. By the way, you may have noticed in the YS News that by not participating in the failed AMP-Generating Station in Meigs County we saved the Village a bundle.
2. ORDINANCE: 1st reading on 2-Way Metering: this would allow people who are generating power (e.g., via solar panels) to sell excess energy back to the grid
3./4. RESOLUTIONS (2) renewing Staff health insurance & health savings accounts and Dental insurance
5. We were going to discuss a resolution regarding a request by Community Solutions to submit an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Application, but that has been put on hold due to a litigation regarding Open Meetings.

OLD BUSINESS will include:
Updates on our open positions (Clerk of Council, Treasurer, Filing Clerk). Deadlines have passed (for Clerk) or are about to pass for applications to these positions, and we are hoping to work with John Weithofer to deal with the onslaught of applications.
Stutzman's Property Discussion: What to do with the property?
Time Banking Discussion: Request for $1500 to start a time-banking program, $500 would go to an annual fee for a program that creates an online system of exchange for work. Our solicitor argues against this, due to potential legal issues.
Greene County Metropolitan Housing Request: I mentioned this earlier, but Greene Met is requesting that we waive their taxes on a property in town, which allies with what most communities have done; the exception made for this property in the early 1980s (I believe) makes it very difficult for them to maintain and improve the properties.
Village Manager Evaluation Forms Discussion: We're planning to do "360" evaluation this time, with staff participation.

NEW BUSINESS will include:
Calendar discussion for Budget meetings and Council Goals review
Water/Sewer Rates

Manager's Report & Agenda Planning

That's all I can manage tonight--I'll be speedier (and more interesting maybe?) next week, when classes will be done!

Stay warm!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

VC: Inauguration Night, Monday! (11/16)

{--Oh Happy Day! A pic from our trip to DC to the Obama inauguration--Frank, me and 2 million of our closest friends...

Dear People: Well, things happen pretty fast 'round these parts: the newly elected/re-elected Mayor and Council members will be sworn in on Monday evening and then we'll have a normal but fairly light meeting. Enjoy the weather this glorious weekend!

Monday's AGENDA!

1) Administering oath of office to new/re-elected Council.
2) Election of President, Vice Pres.
3) Announcements, Review Minutes, Review Agenda and Communications.
4) PUBLIC HEARING/LEGISLATION: Supplemental Appropriations: This is a repeat of our actions in October, due to a small snafu down at the village offices (due to the illness of Deborah, our Clerk), with regard to publishing the findings within a week after passage.

NOTE: We are working on hiring for Deborah's position right now, however. (If you are interested, or know someone who might be, please look at the job description / application process as posted on the village website. ) See under OLD BUSINESS for more on this topic

5) OLD BUSINESS: Several big things here:
  • Economic Sustainability Coordinator: Update /Economic Sustainability Board. Mark will be announcing the new Coordinator that we've hired and we'll also be discussing, and possibly voting on the Economic Sustainability Board proposed by Judith some time ago.
  • Evaluation Process (for Village Mgr) Discussion: We have to evaluate Mark every year, and he's been here about a year already! We have several sample evaluation forms available in our packets for us to examine and select from. I will be looking at them carefully. We are considering moving our evaluation date for him to the Summer time, further away from election. (Since the brand new Council member(s) will not be as able to provide feedback that is fully meaningful having just
  • Announcement/Discussion: Clerk of Council and Treasurer positions. We are definitely hiring to replace our retiring Clerk of Council, Deborah Benning. Deborah had also served as Treasurer, which is a more complex role to fill. We will be discussing what to do about this issue on Monday evening.
  • OPENINGS! We need YOU to serve on: Environmental Commission, Human Rights Commissions, and Energy Task Force. We have applicants for some slots, but I know that the EC still has two open slots, now that EC member Rick Walkey has been voted onto Council. We'll get an update as to the exact state of membership on these official committees of Council. Consider serving!
  • HRC Website update: Having met with HRC members and with Bruce Cornett, Village Mgr. Mark tells us we have a few possible options, one of which would give the HRC lots of flexibility, and us a little less control, another of which would reduce their flexibility of use, but give the Village a great deal of control. We need to decide what our policy with regard to the website should be.
  • Appointment of Council Reps to Commissions, Committees, Task Forces and Boards.
  • Health Care Insurance Renewal for village employees. Mark recommends renewing our current plans for medical and dental. The medical plan premium costs will increase by 6.87%, which is below what many places are finding, and the dental plan will increase by 8.94%, but this is actually below what we were paying in 2008.
We'll then have reports from Commissions and Committees, Agenda Planning, and, so far as I can see, no executive session.

Peace, and a poem--

O Me! O Life! by Walt Whitman

O Me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring;

Of the endless trains of the faithless—of cities fill’d with the foolish;

Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)

Of eyes that vainly crave the light—of the objects mean—of the struggle ever renew’d;

Of the poor results of all—of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me;

Of the empty and useless years of the rest—with the rest me intertwined;

The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?


That you are here—that life exists, and identity;

That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.

Amen, brothers and sisters.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

PC on Monday, Events all Month...!

Dear People--I hope you've been able to at least sit in the sunshine and unexpected warmth of this gorgeous gold-fading-to-gray November day. I have info about Planning Commission, upcoming Village Council meetings, and other, perhaps more exciting village events....

This Monday 11/9 is our Planning Commission meeting
(Bryan Center, 2nd floor, 7 pm) and we have three main issues on the agenda, although the first is simply to discuss whether the PC should have a group membership in the American Planning Association. The other two larger issues are:

1) Revising our PUD Process and site requirements. Local builders / developers, residents affected by new developments in town, are especially invited to speak to our current process and the proposed changes we hope to instigate, with a goal of making the process and the outcomes better for everyone. We had Woolperts look at our current code and offer suggestions as to how it might be improved. Their main suggestions (out of about 11 total) were:
  • Create a single PUD code that governs residential, business, and industrial, as well as mixed usage, to improve clarity and ease of use. (Right now we have 3 separate codes for business, industrial, and residential, and Mark Cundiff has noted that our current regulations don't really cover things like the single-building structure proposed by the Friends Care Community).
  • Reduce Preliminary Plan Review to One Phase: Currently, we have a 2 part "preliminary plan review" process: a "concept" plan review and a detailed plan review. John Streuwing explained in our last discussion of this topic that we did that in order to help smaller, local developers who may not be able to afford to pay professionals to do complex pre-planning for something that might be rejected. And in fact our language stipulates that these two phases can be done at the same time, if the developer wishes. Woolperts says that this is unusual and might be confusing for many developers.
  • Open Space changes: To include a requirement that some of the required open space, 10% of it, be "usable" open space. They also seem to be suggesting lowering open space requirements overall from 25% of the overall land use to 20%. I will be asking about both of these suggestions.
  • Add Land Trusts as parties that can accept, own, and maintain conveyed open space.
  • Charge Village's engineering/planning costs to developers: A fee would be collected up front to help pay for any expenses associated with the project paid for by the Village; any leftovers would be returned, but our costs would be covered.
  • No return of the final PUD plan to Council="irregular" according to Woolperts. I'll be asking them about this.
  • No 35 foot height restriction? This seems new to me, from our last discussion. I'll be asking about it.
  • I thought they were going to add in language that required 1) more specifics with regard to performance and aesthetic standards, but I'm not sure how/whether their changes really do that, and 2) more detailed design information regarding utilities and storm water. Again, I might be missing this in my initial review of the documents. So I'll be asking the Woolpert associate about these issues.
2) Creating a Historic Preservation Overlay district with a focus on 1) maintaining an inventory of historic structures in our planning office and 2) creating a process that allows for a public hearing on the demolition of historic buildings--and seeking to discourage demolition by neglect. Mark has written out a plan for this, and Council has discussed it and given our initial support for this limited kind of historic preservation ordinance. So we'll be going through Mark's proposed language in order to make sure it fits with our goals and needs.

Here is language I'll be proposing for the introduction of the ordinance, slightly modified from Mark's original suggestions:

"The public interest calls for the preservation and protection of significant historical, architectural, and archeological resources within the village that evoke Yellow Springs' and America's histories. Buildings and places that tell of the presence of our forebears add meaning and livability to our village, as do our eclectic residential areas and lively business districts. We value the creativity of our residents who have re-shaped older buildings into creative, useful structures suited for contemporary life, but also have been dismayed, in the past, by the loss of beloved buildings and landmarks due to unregulated demolition or "demolition by neglect." To protect our public interest in these historic structures, it is necessary to provide a method whereby certain public controls are required for dramatic changes to meaningful buildings, landmarks and neighborhoods, but one which also requires that we carefully consider the rights of private property and thoroughly analyze the objectives that might be achieved if a site is substantially preserved or substantially altered."

The then goes on: "PURPOSE: It is the intent of this Section to promote the health, safety, and general welfare of the public through: 1) the enhancement of [neighborhood stability, property values, economic development] and the protection of property rights of all citizens, 2) the preservation and enhancement of a village of varied architectural styles reflecting the [various] phases of the village's history, 3) the preservation of historically significant districts, sties, buildings, structures, and objects that possess integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association, and 4) to this end, this section authorizes the adoption of overlay historic districts and to review [maintenance standards and demolition plans] which affect the historic quality of such historic districts and sites."

The material in [brackets] above represent a change I am proposing to Mark's language that I believe more accurately reflects the goals of this ordinance. I wonder if the ordering of the numbered points makes sense for us, also.

Please feel free to tell me what you think!

A quick look ahead to the weeks ahead:
a week from tomorrow, Monday 11/16, will mark the swearing in of our new colleague on Council, Rick Walkey, and the beginning of a "new" Council, although four of us are returning members. We will be establishing new positions on Commissions and Task-Forces, as well as completing other ongoing business; on Monday 11/30 we will be meeting with Township trustees and the ACP consultants regarding the Visioning effort.

For the good of the village, I'd also like to call your attention to a few upcoming events (in reverse calendar order!):

Celebrate the Ohio's "Best Hometown" designation at the third Friday fling! There will be songs and celebration at a brief program between the Senior Center and the Emporium at 5:30 pm.

11/15 Nonstop Presents!! Richard Becker, Author of Palestine, Israel and the U.S. Empire Sunday, November 15th at 2:00 Nonstop Institute, within Millworks, 305 S. Walnut Street, Suite C, Yellow Springs, Ohio.

11/14 Save Energy Save Money: Free Seminar on Energy-Efficient Building and Retrofitting

Sponsored by Community Solutions and net0home Inc.

Saturday November 14th

Yellow Springs Senior Center

1. Community Solutions/UD: "Energy Use and Energy Efficiency in Yellow Springs"
2. net0home Inc.: "50 Energy Audits in Yellow Springs - Biggest Energy Problems and Solutions"
3. Pat Murphy: “What Do Walls Looks Like? Thickening for Ultra Low Energy Use”
4. Bob Klahn: "Geese in the yard may irritate you, leaking ducts inside will rob you!"

5PM to 8PM
Reception at The Emporium with appetizers and wine tasting.

Booths with information and demonstrations from:

net0home Inc.
Community Solutions
Green Generation Building Co.
Living Green
Southtown Heating and Cooling
Dovetail Solar


Monday, November 2, 2009

VC: Election-e'en!

{-- I will say NO on Tuesday. (image from

Hi, People:
Well, Tuesday is election day: Vote! I will support all the local levies (mental health, libraries, etc.) and I will oppose the casinos and Issue 2. I will be voting for all local positions as well. On election eve, your current council will be hard at work on a variety of concerns.

  • Airport Noise: A big thick packet of information from the City Mgr of Springfield with regard to the issue. I have not had time to look at this! If someone would like to help me to sort through all the information--particularly if this is an especial concern of yours--I'd be happy to share my packet with you.
  • Family Violence Prevention Center: Fundraiser at Young's Golden Jersey Inn, Nov. 4, "Adopt-A-Family" with domestic abuse issues for holiday season. For more info call 937.376.8526 or email: to have your name added to their list.
  • Voinovich staff townhall meeting with Greene County communities in Xenia on Nov. 10, 11am-12 noon @ Greene County Commissioner's Office, Exec Session Room, Administrative Bldg, 35 Greene Street Xenia Ohio.
  • Hydroluorosilicic Acid info: I received a packet of information about the specific fluoride treatment that we purchase from Bonded Chemicals, Inc. If anyone is interested, it is in our packet this week. I don't have an electronic copy, and I will need mine for the next EC meeting. If you'd like to have a copy, I will find out the easiest way to have one made. Our packets are always available at the library and at the village offices, in the sitting area by the police dispatcher on the first floor.
  • ORDINANCE: First reading & Public Hearing on participation in a new AMP Hydo-electric Project at Greenup and Meldahl. (I discussed this briefly last week. They look like good projects that I am planning to support.
  • RESOLUTION: establishing Village Manager Mark Cundiff as a temporary deputy Clerk of Council to assist with signing important documents in an efficient way, at no extra cost to the village.
  • ECON SUSTAINABILITY COORDINATOR Update: Mark has interviewed candidates and hopes to have a name to announce at our meeting!
  • SIDEWALKS: 1) Crews worked last weekend on cutting back trees from public walks along Xenia Ave, east side. 2) Sidewalk replacement on same street side delayed due to staff illness. Should begin in Feb/March next year. 3) King St.: since it does not involve assessment, we should be able to be completed by end of November. A resident had specific comments about the street condition, and somewhat opposing the plan we approved, i.e., that the village will pick up the rather minimal tab for this section to resolve a current safety issue; 4) Safe Routes to School continues; surveys and tally sheets have been distributed.
  • HISTORIC PRESERVATION: Planning Commission, of which I am a member, proposes establishing regulations regarding demolition of structures in a historical district or historic landmarks in the village. These would not be regulations about paint colors or adding on new things, simply about the demolition of older structures altogether, or "demoliton by neglect. They mostly 1) require the village to maintain an inventory of historic structures (so that we can make sure that owners are aware of the historic value of their properties), and 2) require the owner to notify the village if a structure needs to be demolished and produce evidence that demolition is, in effect, the only feasible way forward.
  • VILLAGE MANAGER EVALUATION: It's been almost a year since Mark became our Village Manager, so it's evaluation time. Mark has provided with various forms, including our own from the last evaluation of our former Village Manager. We will look at these possible forms and decide how to best evaluate his work. Please let me know, via email or phone, if you have any reflections on Mark's work for us over the past year.
EXECUTIVE SESSION: Personnel issue.


That's about it! Here's a lovely spooky batty Hallowe'en poem

Bats by Paisley Rekdal

unveil themselves in dark.

They hang, each a jagged,

silken sleeve, from moonlit rafters bright

as polished knives. They swim

the muddled air and keen

like supersonic babies, the sound

we imagine empty wombs might make

in women who can’t fill them up.

A clasp, a scratch, a sigh.

They drink fruit dry.

And wheel, against feverish light flung hard

upon their faces,

in circles that nauseate.

Imagine one at breast or neck,

Patterning a name in driblets of iodine

that spatter your skin stars.

They flutter, shake like mystics.

They materialize. Revelatory

as a stranger’s underthings found tossed

upon the marital bed, you tremble

even at the thought. Asleep,

you tear your fingers

and search the sheets all night.



Monday, October 19, 2009

VC This Monday--Visioning Next Week!

{ Once again, the Jafabrit artist provides an excellent pic!

Dear People! The big ash trees in front of the funeral home on Xenia Ave have been so beautiful this week, all yellowy purple...We need to love these trees, with our eyes, while we have them, since it's quite likely they will all be dead within a few years due to the emerald ash borer. (Puts me in mind of a Shakespeare sonnet about life and love and death, which I've quoted at the end of this email).

But on to more prosaic tasks: Village Council this Monday night, Visioning starts next week--click here for times and locations! (Monday 26th in Clifton, Tues & Wed at various times and places around YS), and a School Board Candidates' Forum, at the Presbyterian Church (sponsored by the Non-Stop Institute), next Sunday 2-4 pm.
(I have had word that the Men's Group may be sponsoring a forum for all candidates on Oct. 29th, but have not confirmed that yet.)

  • ORDINANCE: Budget re-appropriations, as an emergency. It looks like we've used less money on our streets than budgeted ($-104.3K variance), and considerably more on our electric fund ($250K variance). Sharon Potter should be on hand, with our manager, to explain these changes.
  • RESOLUTION: Wheeling Gaunt Flour and Sugar Distribution to YS Widows: An easy vote! Lovely YS tradition dating back to the bequest of a former slave, supporting widows. If you know any new widows in town, be sure to let the village know!
  • RESOLUTION: In support of Mental Health Levy (Issue #5.) No new taxes! These services, for mental health support, suicide prevention, and drug/alcohol addiction, are vital--and more necessary than ever during tough financial times.
  • RESOLUTION: In support of Greene County Council on Aging (Issue #6): Again, this replaces (with a slight increase) a current grant. It is critical for our village services to seniors.
  • RESOLUTION: NatureWorks Grant with Glen. We agreed some time ago to serve as the conduit for a grant (which required a government agency to officially apply for, receive and administer the funds) from the Ohio Dept of Natural Resources, to Glen Helen to make needed improvements to the Trailside Museum (water lines, etc.). This resolution authorizes our Village Mgr. to sign documents andfacilitate the funds transfer.
OLD BUSINESS will include:
  • A discussion with Community Resources about a joint meeting / facilitated discussion.
  • The possibility of an Economic Sustainability Board, as Judith has advocated (see earlier discussions on my website:
  • HRC plan to develop a website. (Additionally, I would point out that there was a letter from HRC member Don Wallis in our packet urging us to form a citizen's committee to look at the possiblity of making short street into a pedestrian mall. Thoughts?)
NEW BUSINESS will include:
  • We have two new hydroelectric projects to consider participating in, through our co-op energy provider, AMP. Meldahl and Greenup Projects--one to be created on an existing lock and dam on the Ohio River (Meldahl), and one owned and operated by the City of Hamilton Ohio (Greenup)
  • Repairs to the clarifier on our Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP): Est. cost of $35-40K. We have those funds in our current budget, and we can't operate the WWTP and meet permit levels without making these repairs.
  • King Street Sidewalk Extension: Based on concerns of residents, there's a suggestion of completing about 50 feet of sidewalk on King St., to Dayton, esp. important for the use of school children. Our manager proposesusing some of the unused $ in our street funds to complete this, and then later assessing those costs to the owner, so that the work can be completed. I like the idea, but am not sure how/whether we would be approaching this project differently from other sidewalk projects, so I'll be asking about that.
Then we'll have standing reports, and an executive session on pending litigation.

Don't forget to VISION next week! (Click here to see the locations and times!)

We'll give the bard the last word, however--

William Shakespeare, Sonnet 73

That time of year thou may'st in me behold,
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang,
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day,
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by.
This thou perceiv'st which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Water Fluoridation Forum TONIGHT!

< The photo is by local photographer Nina Rios who has a fine gallery of photographs and digital pieces on her website!

Water Fluoridation Forum
TONIGHT! Thursday, October 15 7 PM
Bryan Community Center Rms A & B
Speakers: Dr. Paul Connett , Fluoride Action Network
Mark McDonell, Green County Health Commissioner

Fluoridating our water is a relatively small part of our budget, but, to me, it presents a relatively complex ethical question that in some ways goes to the heart of governance. Its use has been correlated with significantly lower levels of tooth decay--although, based on my reading of the research, scientific consensus seems pretty clear that this benefit is mostly likely achieved from the contact of fluoride with the surface of the tooth, rather than the ingestion of it. So many places around the world (including most of Europe) do not fluoridate. These other places approach dental health through other means (people can buy fluoridated salt, for instance, and can be encouraged to get regular fluoride treatments from dentists, and some people choose alternative approaches, altogether).

Perhaps most importantly, fluoridation is, actually, the only instance of mass medication of the public in the US by way of a public resource--our water supply--which is vital to life and therefore virtually impossible to opt out of.

For this reason, I believe we should take public concerns about fluoridation quite seriously. Please read on for all the details about our forum:

EcoBeat: Water Fluoridation

Since 1970, the Village of Yellow Springs has added fluoride to its drinking water. Is this a good practice? How does long-term fluoride exposure affect your health? How does it affect you and your children’s teeth? Do the benefits outweigh the risks? What is best for our community?

These questions and more will be answered when the Environmental Commission presents a forum on Water Fluoridation on Oct. 15 with speakers Dr. Paul Connett, retired professor of chemistry and founder of the Fluoride Action Network, and Green County Health Commissioner, Mark McDonell. These two health experts will each present their opposing views on the practice of water fluoridation, and the audience will then have ample opportunity to ask questions.

Fluoridation of drinking water has been a practice in the US since the 1950s because, at that time, it was believed to prevent dental cavities and tooth decay. More recently, this has become a controversial topic as many scientists report the toxicity of fluoride and the risk it poses to human health.

Recent scientific research has linked fluoride ingestion to hip fracture, cancer, thyroid disease, and kidney impairment. The American Dental Association and Center for Disease Control endorse fluoridation as safe, economical, and effective in reducing tooth decay by 20 to 40%.

In 1969, water fluoridation was mandated by the State of Ohio for all communities over 5000 residents. At that time, during a 240 day exemption period, both Springfield and Xenia chose not to fluoridate their drinking water.

Join us for this very important forum. Ask questions. Decide what is best for your community and the future of our village water. With a population under 5000, Yellow Springs still has a choice.

Water Fluoridation Forum
Thursday, October 15 7 PM
Bryan Community Center Rms A & B
Speakers: Dr. Paul Connett , Fluoride Action Network
Mark McDonell, Green County Health Commissioner

Sunday, October 11, 2009

PC tomorrow, VC Last week

2 Short posts, one (over last week's VC meeting) seriously delayed because I didn't realize that it didn't post--sorry!

Dear People: This will be just a short email, since it's late and I still have quite a bit of work to do tonight! (And, seriously, I've worked all day, but have just fallen behind.) Planning Commission tomorrow night, 7 pm, Bryan Center.

After our regular reports, we'll be discussing the possibility of historical preservation legislation. I was glad to read in this week's YS News that Antioch College had a preservationist look at the buildings, and that the recommendation was to raze probably only two buildings, rather than the much larger number that was feared. This is exactly the approach we'd like to see property owners take whenever possible--that they'd focus on trying to save older, and/or significant buildings, if possible, rather than tearing them down. Just as we don't pay the true cost of grocery store food, we don't pay the true cost of building supplies, when you attend to the full costs of all the oil/other energy used and pollution created to make or harvest the raw materials, process them, and transport them to us. Renovation is, in many ways, the greenest way to build. So what I'm hoping is that we'll be able to educate the citizenry, and strongly encourage them to seek to preserve buildings from our past if it is at all feasible, through helpful legislation.

Second, we'll be discussing our PUD subdivision regulations,
from chapter 1264 of our Charter. Woolpert's have analysed our current regulations and they find our procedure to be "a conventional two step PUD process." However, they note that there are two phases in our first step--both a concept plan and a detailed design plan phase are required. They say that "this two phase process is not necessary, and probably adds time to the process," and confusese the process unnecessarily. Second, they note that it's not normal for Planning Commission to have to return the final, approved plan back to Council. They made about 10 more recommendations, including several suggestions for strengthening open space requirements.


Dear People: I am sorry my note this week has to be short. I was out of town at a conference, until late last night, and have been scrambling to catch up on grading.

In brief, we're discussing resolutions to support beggar's night bonfires, and authorizing the RFP for energy efficient street lights.

Then we'll have special reports about the Youth Bench (from Tucker Malishenko) and the Mental Health levy renewal.

Next, for old business, we'll turn to the Levy Update from our special meeting last Monday, and the MVRPC plan I mentioned a few notes ago (we now have a hard copy of the executive summary of the plan). Then Greene Metropolitan Housing Authority has requested a tax exemption on some of their Title 8 housing.

Finally, we'll be discussing Kathryn's service on Community Resources, and the possibility of a joint meeting. Possibly this will include a discussion of the Economic Sustainability Committee that Judith has proposed, but I am not sure of that.

Thanks! Peace out!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

VC: Special Meeting Monday: Levy Renewal?

Dear People: 7 pm on Monday Village Council will meet in a special session to receive preliminary information from our village manager, Mark Cundiff, about how we have spent the current levy monies, how they contribute to our overall budget, and what various renewal options would look like.

I'll give you a little initial context, and would welcome your thoughts:
  • The last levy was passed in November of 2006 and was an 8.4 mill, 5-year levy; it commenced with 2006 taxes (collected in 2007) and will therefore end with 2010 taxes (to be collected in 2011).
  • Although the levy was advocated in order to accomplish some specific tasks (Street surface replacements, Economic Development, etc.), it was an operating levy that went directly into the General Fund, not into special funds for specific projects.
  • The current levy contributes 25% of our General Fund revenues--$747,000 each year. Without levy support, we would have to cut our budget, services.
  • Mark suggests that, in order to avoid a gap, we should place this on the ballot in Nov. 2010; that means we'd need to have a "Resolution of Necessity" passed by next August. So he suggests we might want to make some initial decisions about renewal/new levy (how much and what type) by end of the year.
I would welcome any thoughts, and your presence at the meeting.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Dear People: Well, the gorgeous weather maybe was too good to last, and, yet, today's drizzle is calm and beautiful in its way. I made my way to the Horace Mann statue in the South Glen for the first time this morning, just before it started sprinkling, during my long Sunday hike. I'm embarrassed to say I had never been there, so I paid my long-overdue respects to the big green-patinaed man on the plinth in the woods, with his shocking, red-painted shoes. (Thanks to the "jafabrit" blogger--Corrine B.--for her fabulous photo! But who weilded the red paint, hmmm? It looks like he's wearing crocs!)

So! Tomorrow (Monday 9/21) village council will be meeting as usual in the Bryan Center, 2nd floor, 7 pm, for our regularly scheduled second meeting of the month, which I'll discuss at length below.

In addition, I would like to alert/remind you all that we will have a very important special meeting, next Monday (9/28), which will focus on the overall budget and, more specifically, the levy and its possible renewal. Mark Cundiff has received questions/concerns from Council, and is preparing a presentation for us to better understand what role the levy monies are playing in our current budget and what our options are in terms of renewal/rates/purposes, and how those options would likely affect our future budgets. I hope that many of you can come.

BUT tomorrow night our agenda looks like this:

We received letters from a variety of sources, as usual. Highlights:
  • Two villagers in one household wrote to complain about the noise from F-16 flyovers,
  • a group from MLASC is asking for permission to use Cemetary Street parking as a fund-raiser during street fair, as they have in years past.
  • Another villager wrote to ask when we plan to have the annual Halloween "beggers' night," which last year several residents felt was overcrowded by out-of-town people.
I suspect all of those may be discussed at least briefly at our meeting. Please let me know if you have thoughts, perhaps especially about when we ought to have our traditional Halloween festivities.
  • We also always receive a newsletter from AMP, our power co-op. One article caught my eye: The 'Energy Conservation for Ohioans Link' (ECO-Link) loan program which "is a partnership between the Ohio Treasury and eligible state banks to provide reduced-interest rate financing for Ohioans seeking installment loans to make energy efficiency improvements to existing single family homes" For more info visit the ECO Link website or call 800/228-1102 for more info on participating banks, contractors, and eligible Energy Star products.


1. Second reading of Human Relations Ordinances, establishing a domestic partnership registry, establishing 'hate crimes' legislation, and including gender identity as a protected category in our public accommodations regulations.
2. Resolution in support of Greene County Library Levy Renewal. (Not a new tax, just a reaffirmation of the old one.)
3. Resolution accepting the amount and rates of our tax budget (as determined by the the state Budget Commission, and certifying them to the County Auditor).
4.-6. Resolutions awarding two bids for the WWTP improvements: General Contracting with Kirk Brothers; Electrical Work with DeBra Kuempel; and authorizing LJB, Inc., to oversee the project.

  1. MVRPC "Going Places" Phase I Report. Click here for more information from their website. This report is "an integrated land use visiong for the Miami Valley Region (Miami, Montgomery, & Greene Counties), which focuses on encouraging economic development in the region and sets a vision for land use priorities. The map included in the brochure identifies some land on all sides of Yellow Springs as 'developable.' I am very interested and concerned about how and whether there is any attempt to discourage the kind of sprawl the region has seen in the past several years--I cannot see it clearly in the information I have read.
  2. Village Water & Sewer Rates Study: We commissioned Woolperts to look at our water and sewer rates. Our water rates are currently not keeping up with costs, in particular, and we are doing major work to our wastewater treatment system, so we must look at our rate structure and how to bring it in line with costs. Woolperts will present a cost comparison with other municipalities, and make suggestions as to changes we could make.
Economic Sustainability Committee/ Community Resources: At our last meeting, we determined that, as a body, we needed advice and clarification from our village solicitor about the limitations on a Council person serving on the Board of Community Resources, which is a non-designated Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) whose work is focused on developing the Center for Business and Education (the McGregor property). We had just received a statement on this specific question made by the Ohio Ethics Commission, which many of us found confusing. Currently, Kathryn Van der Heiden is serving "ex-officio" on the Board of Community Resources. The Ethics Commission ruling, to me, seemed to imply that it was very difficult for a public official to serve as a full member on such a board.

I am not sure whether we will have any extended discussion of Judith Hempfling's proposed Economic Sustainability Commission; I think we may just get a brief update from Mark as to the hiring of the Economic Sustainability Director, and plan to take this question up at a later date.

Energy Task Force: Street Light Bulbs. The Energy Task force proposes replacing our current street lamps with new, much more energy efficient ones called "induction" lights. They have been running a sample light at the cornder of Talus and West South College. The ETF proposes using our $50,000 budget for energy efficiency improvements for this year to begin the conversion to induction lights. Step 1 would be issuing an RFP for the process.

MANAGER'S REPORT (attached) : discusses Greene Cats potentially making the Bryan Ctr. a regular pick up spot, WWTP non-compliance penalties, the increase in solid waste fees, and the inquiry from Greene Met Housing regarding taxes on land in the village, atrazine in the water, etc.

STANDING REPORTS from all commissions and committees of Council and AGENDA PLANNING and then

EXECUTIVE SESSION: Real Estate / Personnel / Pending Litigation


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Delayed Post! Sorry, folks, this should have been posted yesterday morning

Online readers: My apologies for the delay in posting this; it wasn't intentional. I'll do better next time.

Dear People: Well, the holiday means that our Village Council meets tonight, rather than last night. We have a heavy agenda, as usual.

In the many petitions and communications we received, were a few that are of especial interest, I think:
1) Karen Wintrow reports that Yellow Springs has been selected one of 5 regional "best home towns" by Ohio magazine, and will be the feature cover story of their November edition.
2) Pat Murphy will be speaking on "Super Insulated Passive Homes" on Wed evening, the 9th, at 8pm; Green Energy Ohio is having a Miami Valley Solar Tour, Oct 3-4 (
3) The Greene County Health District will be having a women's "Fashion Swap & Shop" on Oct. 24th, 11 am, Greene Country Club, Fairborn. Proceeds will benefit the "Clinic Cupboard" which provides basic drug store items for needy families using the clinics--e.g. diapers, tylenol, diaper rash cream, other over-the-counter meds.
4) Letters from citizens/area groups: one letter opposing the Fairfield sidewalk petition, one letter concerned about noise levels from the Springfield airport and potential for increased traffic at that airport. NAMI urges us to be concerned about cuts to housing for mentally disabled in Ohio.
5) Annual Report from the Miami Township Fire & Rescue.

Three things related to environmental concerns--esp. water/water treatment:

1) A citizen emailed a link to a story in the New York Times about atrazine in the drinking water: He's requesting that the village test more frequently, particularly during times of heaviest agricultural and lawn use.
2) The Ohio EPA tested our sewage sludge and found that we lacked complete documentation for certain tests and certifications, making us out of compliance with their rules. I'll ask Mark about this.
3) Vickie Hennessy of the Environmental Commission requests $270 to help pay for a public forum on water fluoridation. The forum would present Mark McDonnell, of the Greene County Health Commission, who advocates for water fluoridation as a protection for children's teeth, and Dr. Paul Connett, who co-founded the Fluoride Action Network seeking to broaden public awareness of the health risks of ingesting fluoride. The $270 would pay for transporting Dr. Connett here; both speakers are willing to speak at no cost. I have asked that we be able to discuss this issue during "new business."


1) Ordinance (2nd reading): Entering the Eco-Choice Program ("Green Pricing")--voluntary support for green energy sources
2) Ordinance (2nd reading): No animals at street fair
3) Ordinance (1st reading): Amending Chapter 632 re: Human Relations in the Village: Revising our intimidation ('hate crimes') and our public accommodations statutes to include sexual orientation/gender identity; setting up a domestic partnership registry in the village
4) Resolution: Awarding the bid for electrical line tree clearing
5) Resolution: Accepting a renewal quote for property casualty insurance

Ed Amrhein will give us a status report and explain what the current plans are.

Economic Sustainability Committee (& related issues):
Judith proposes that we create a committee that would bring together people from a variety of areas of our economic life to help develop new businesses in town.

At the same time, our lawyer advises that since Community Resources (CR) is not a designated CIC, Kathryn Van Der Heiden cannot serve as a full member. Village Council has asked CR if they would agree to become a designated CIC of Council, allowing Council (and Miami Township) to appoint 40% of the board and increasing their transparency (more of their meetings would be open). As I see it, it would make it easier for us to be partners for finishing the work of the Center for Business and Education, which we have to be anyway, since the grant funding must go through the Village. CR has not decided whether it would like to do this. They have, however, indicated this week that they would like to appoint our Village Manager, who is a paid employee under Council, to their board. I, however, believe the best way forward is through official designation of CR as a CIC of Council.

Public Art: The sculpture "A flock of hands," one of three winners of the recent public art competition is proposed to be moved from the original suggested site in front of the Bryan Center to near the Train Station.

(Possible discussion of Fluoridation Forum, see above)

Electric / Water Staffing: Village Manager Mark has discovered that we are short staffed in our utilities department in a way that impairs safety, and his analysis of the information suggests that one of these vacancies was never intended to occur. He recommends hiring an additional utility staff worker.


Well, it could be a late night for me, folks! See you around town, and let me know if you have any thoughts about these issues....

Saturday, August 15, 2009

VC Monday! VC Election! EC opening! Street Paving! Comp Plan! Levy Renewal? Public Art!

Dear People: Well, it's another busy week on the Village Council, and school is about to start! My life is about to get really crazy. But, I also kind of look forward to the energy of the new fall term, the new school year.

As I announced in a quick email yesterday, I will be holding my office hours from 10:30-12 noon, in the Emporium, on SATURDAYS for the fall. (I'm here right now!)

My understanding is that Karen Wintrow, Judith Hempfling, Kathryn van der Heiden, are all planning to run again; there are also rumors about 1-2 other villagers planning to stand, which I have not yet confirmed.

EC OPENING: We're being productive and having fun--join us? Community Gardens, Emerald Ash, supporting alternative energy...You can visit our next meeting on Thursday 27 August. 7 pm in Bryan Ctr.

STREET PAVING will begin on various streets in town this Monday: Green, North College, President, Rice, Union, Wright, E. Herman, Park meadows, E. South College, W. Whiteman, and Kahoe Lane.

At our meeting, we'll vote on 6 pieces of legislation:

  1. Second reading/ public hearing on the economic sustainability position. I plan to vote no, again, because I'm not convinced this position is the best plan for using our economic development funds. However, I will fully support the work of the person we hire and I hope that I am proved wrong. In his manager's report this week, Mark Cundiff stated that the deadline has just passed and it looks like we've received 15 applicants.
  2. First reading: Eco-Choice program-AMP: This program is the long-awaited "green-pricing" program that has recently been re-developed by AMP, our energy co-op. Purely voluntary, this program allows people to pay a little extra--$0.013 per kwh--to help support the development of green energy sources. [If you use 500kw in a month, it would amount to $6.50 extra in a month.] Council approved this plan in 2008, but then we post-poned enacting it because AMP was developing this program. If you signed up before, I believe you are still signed up, but I will be asking for clarification at our next meeting.
  3. First reading: No (non-human) animals at Street Fair: At our last street fair, despite the 'no dogs' rule posted by the fair operators, a person was bitten by a dog. Police can only enforce laws, not rules, so our manager has advised us, and we concur, that a law must be passed prohibiting dogs at the fair--it's actually only kindness to all us animals, to keep your beloved animal companions at home.
  1. Employment Agreement with Village Solicitor (John Chambers, Coolidge Wall).
  2. Employment Agreement with Village Treasurer (Deborah Benning, also Clerk of Council)
  3. Authorization of Village Manager to apply for, accept, and enter into a water pollution control loan fund for the wastewater treatment facility.
  1. Comprehensive Plan: We'll be going through the final pages of the plan, and specifically discussing two suggested edits from Karen Wintrow, regarding Open Space and Electric Distribution. This week's packet is not yet online, due to staff health reasons, but you can read Karen's suggestions on page 38 of last week's packet.
  2. Levy Committee: Since only one person has contacted our Village Manager about serving on a committee to advise on what type of levy, if any, should be pursued, he is suggesting that we, the Council, answer the questions that need to be addressed:
    • What has been the fiscal impact of the current levy?
    • What will be the fiscal impact if the current levy is not replaced?
    • Examination of options: renewal of current; new levy at different millage; new levy dedicated to specific areas; no levy
    • What are the impacts of these options--revenues generated, loss of revenues if fails, potential service/staff cuts if levy fails, etc.
    • Campaign strategy and organization if renewal is sought
  1. Village Investment Summary--our investments are losing some money due to stock market losses and low interest rates.
  2. Economic Development Revolving Loan Fund--a report on how loans are being repaid, etc.
  3. Public Art: Placement of new sculptures--the winners of the public art competition.
After the Manager's report we will plan the agenda and then go into executive session regarding personnel appointment/ agreement.

I have to run now! Peace--


Monday, August 10, 2009

Run for Council--You? + PC tonight and Emerald Ash Beetle has arrived!

Dear People: The deadline for submitting nomination petitions for Village Council is Thursday, August 20th! There are three seats open! I just called the Board of Elections: as of this morning, and just Karen and Judith have taken out nominating petitions, but have not yet returned them. So I have two pieces of homework for all of you (you knew eventually that I'd give you an assignment, didn't you? I'm a teacher! I can't help myself):

1) Please encourage both Judith and Karen as they make their decisions. Although I fully understand why it's a hard decision for anyone to make, I have strongly encouraged both Council members to run again. They are both intelligent, hard workers who are very dedicated to the health of this village. Additionally, the institutional memory is extremely vital to keeping the appropriate balance of power in the hands of democratically-elected officials; while it's great if people serve even one term, if most of our good officials only stay on for 2-4 years, we all lose, because there is always a learning curve for newbies like me. And with our new village manager just coming on board, having strong institutional memory in the Council is more important than ever.

2) BUT We STILL need a few good people to run for these positions. It's really only fully democratic when there are real choices on the ballot. Could it be you? Or a friend? SO: Encourage yourself, or a wise, calm (!) friend or neighbor to run for Council--and/or let me know and I'll ask them! Anyone who is interested should feel free to call me between now and the deadline; I'll meet you downtown or you can come by for coffee or a beer or a cool glass of water, and we can talk about how it works and what it amounts to.

Tonight we have a Planning Commission meeting in the Bryan Center. We'll be discussing:

1) Planning Commission made several requests of Council in a memo dated December 2007. We'll be reviewing those requests and determining whether the requests are still relevant, whether some of the requests are in the process of being met by new initiatives such as Visioning, and whether we wish to renew, revise, or press any of the requests again.

2) Historic preservation: "We will be looking at models from California and Hartford, CT. The State of California has a document called "Drafting Effective Historic Preservation Ordinances: A Manual for California's Local Governments" (That link takes you to a .pdf file from the State of California that you computer will ask you to download; it's safe, but long). The document walks us through the questions we would need to answer as we consider how to best encourage the preservation of significant historical structures in town.

3) Development rights exchange Barr Property for Beatty-Hughes Park. We don't have any specific information about this issue in our packet, although I know that Bill Bebko has been a proponent. My concern is that the Barr property is not ours; it is currently deeded to the Friends Care Community. All the design and engineering work that the Friends Care group have done on the proposed building is based on that site. These very expensive plans would all have to be seriously revised, and that will cost a great deal more money. This proposal, while having some appeal to many people on its surface, does not seem practical to me, unless some citizen or group is willing and able to immediately foot the bills for the legal procedures, design and engineering work that would be required to make such a change.

4) PUD / subdivision regulations: Both Home, Inc., and Community Resources have recently made presentations to Council in which they have urged us to examine our "planned urban development" regulations to see if we can streamline the process for projects that support Council goals, especially the increased availability of homes that people with regular jobs and families and modest means can afford. (To me, this means especially homes below about $150,000. It can even be difficult to find a serviceable home for less than $200K!)

So Planning Commission is looking at our PUD regulations: looking to clarify and make consistent the language of the document, specify when plans need to be submitted for review by consultants, and try to accurately balance the need for flexibility on our part--the ability to say no to projects that are not attractive to us--with some clarity for responsible developers, who would like to be reasonably certain that, if their project fits with Village goals and a clear, carefully-worded list of criteria, it will be accepted, barring unusual site-specific problems.

Finally, EMERALD ASH BORER (EAB) HAS ARRIVED IN GREENE COUNTY!: at our last VC meeting, the Tree Commission reported on our street trees, which are a valuable resource to our community. 86 of those trees are Ash trees, and you, dear reader, may have an ash tree or two in your own yard. They are ALL under threat, right now, due to Emerald Ash Borer. We are under a quarantine: there are heavy fines for moving ANY firewood, etc. across county lines. Don't risk it!

Here's what Kathleen Boutis shared with Council:

"In terms of trees, the MOST IMPORTANT issue is the Emerald Ash Borer. This nasty bug has reached Green County and might already be in the Village. Without intervention, fatality is 100%. Treatment is not cheap, but is the only way to save the trees. While we probably won't be able to treat all of the important Village ash trees, we should at the very least, IDENTIFY which the Village considers important. It may be that certain Villagers may band together to "fund" saving a certain tree. All villagers who care about the trees of YS need to understand the ramifications of this pest. We believe that if folks KNEW they could chip in to help save a tree, they would. As a community, our focus should be on what trees we want to protect, how we can do it, and make treatment options available to the Village and villagers alike.

We need a VILLAGE PLAN for treating, cutting-if necessary, and replacing the ashes. We will be in much better shape if we walk into this understanding the situation and having a Village-wide PLAN for dealing with it. The problem is HERE and time is of the essence.

YS has a severe invasive plant problem. The Village has an important role in managing invasive species on village land and also in helping educate and encourage villagers to stop planting and start eradicating invasives in their private yards. For example:

Ailanthus: Village has a BIG Ailanthus (Tree of Heaven) problem. The Glen is bearing the burden of the large Ailanthus population in the wooded area behind the Bryan Center. These invasive--and VERY hard to eradicate--trees are spreading into the Glen where those parts of town come together (cross 68 and via YS Creek).

The extreme problem we have with invasive plant species in the Village greatly affects the health of our urban forests. The Euonymus that we have growing up on many Village trees IS KILLING many of them. If we don't start pulling it down and killing it, we can plan on cutting those trees down also. Honeysuckle is the primary understory plant in any wooded area in and around the Village. It prevents new trees from growing by being the first plant up in spring and the last plant down in the fall. It also releases a chemical that partially sterilizes the soil. If we don't deal with these invasives now, we won't have trees in the future to worry about."

For more information about EAB and what you can do, go to the Ohio Department of Agriculture's EAB page, or call the hotline: 1.888.OHIO.EAB.

Please watch your trees and consider helping save our ashes.


Edited to add: Just to be clear: Emerald Ash Borer is extremely deadly, and the treatment is very expensive, and must be done yearly while the bug is in the area--i.e., probably forever. Most of the trees WILL have to be cut down, chipped, and the chips burned; there is no other choice. But if you have or know of a tree that is significant, that you want to try to save, now is the time to act.