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.

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