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.

Monday, August 3, 2009

VC tonight! Sidewalks, trees, comp plan, Community Resources

Dear People! Well, I cannot be in my office hours on Wednesday because I'm taking one last brief summer trip to see my parents in Iowa. SO I will be in the Emporium this morning from 10-11 or so TODAY, if you need to chat! As I mentioned last week, when I'm back on a regular schedule during the school term, my office hours should get a little more predictable.

Tonight we have four pieces of LEGISLATION most of which should be fairly quickly discussed and voted on (we're hoping 20 minutes total):

1) Second reading, with a public hearing, of the revised budget ordinance ('supplemental appropriations') discussed at our last meeting.
2 & 3) Second reading, public hearing, regarding the salary increase for Council and Mayor.
4) First reading, public hearing, regarding the new "Economic Sustainability Coordinator" that Council resolved to hire. This one may take a little time, simply because it's the first official hearing on this position, and there may still be wording issues to be resolved.

Then we'll turn to two fairly short SPECIAL REPORTS (15 min ea.)

1) The YS Tree Committee will formally present a report written for Council "An Analysis of Street Tree Benefits for Yellow Springs." This includes an inventory of village-owned street-trees (as requested by our insurance provider), and a survey of all trees that the YSTC is providing for. The second phase of this activity will be a survey of all Village-owned park trees. Some highlights:
  • The Committee estimates that the total value of the trees along our streets--in terms of pollution reduction, storm water interception, energy savings and other benefits--is $161,000 (or about $98/tree).
  • Suggested goal: plant larger trees for increased benefits.
  • Variety is key, however: we currently have a lot of maple trees, which may make our ability to deal with the "Asian longhorned beetle," if it should show up in our area, than we have thus far had with the emerald ash borer (EAB)...which could still be significant. They recommend no more maples, at least along our streets.
  • Re: EAB: assuming EAB arrives here, we will probably have to cut down a large number of ash trees, unfortunately. The Village itself owns 86 ash trees; cutting them all down will be (heartbreaking &) expensive.
2) Home, Inc. "Supporting Affordable Housing in YS" Home Inc will suggest various ways that we can better support affordable owner-occupied housing and rental housing in town, including things like zoning restrictions that encourage smaller houses, duplexes, attached and detached second dwellings.

Then we'll discuss OLD BUSINESS (we hope at around 8:05):

1) Sidewalks: a) Sidewalk standards: Mark has prepared a list of specs for sidewalks and guidelines for replacement, as our current ones are vague. b) From "Communications" petition for sidewalk on Fairfield Pike (between Ridgecrest and the bike path). Presented by Deanna Newsome; many villagers in that area of town have signed on.

2) Community Resources/ CIC / Economic Sustainability Advisory Board: Community Resources, is the sole "community improvement corporation" (CIC) in the village/township; they were instrumental in assisting Antioch-McGregor to move from their central location to the Center for Business & Education (CBE) on the western edge of town. We asked them to look into becoming a "designated CIC" which would mean that 40% of their board would be appointed by Council and Miami Township. Their major focus for the last several years has been developing that property (through grants and coordination of various governmental entities that are involved--such as the dept of transportation and the Army corps of engineers).

Meanwhile, Judith Hempfling has worked with various villagers in developing the idea of an "Economic Sustainability Advisory Board" that would assist the new economic sustainability coordinator in his/her work in sustaining and creating business opportunities in town. She sees this as distinct from the kind of work that the CR has been doing.

3) Comprehensive Plan: We'll continue working through the final section of the plan (section 4). Karen Wintrow has suggested some new and I believe good language regarding the preservation of Open Space (with good, explicit language about the Jacoby Greenbelt); and about the Electric Distribution system in the village.


1) YS investment summary: we have experienced lower earnings on our investments this year, representing a loss of approx. $42,000

2) Revolving Loan Fund: Report (These are loans made mostly to small businesses in town, although the largest loan was $300,000, at 0% interest, to Community Resources for the CBE, mentioned above.)

Then we'll turn to the manager's report, with a Waste-Water Treatment Plant Update, and agenda planning.