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Springboro OKs combined $9.7 million in street repairs, refinancing

Published: Friday, February 17, 2017 @ 1:54 PM

On Thursday, the Springboro City Council approved contracting with R.A. Miller Construction Co. for more than $1.1 million for repair and resurfacing of local streets, curbs and gutters, sidewalks and driveway aprons.

Streets included in this year's program include Artesian Court, Barley Court, Bentbrook Court, Cedar Hill Lane, Cold Springs Court, Huntley Court, Saddlebrook Court, Woodstream Drive, Parkridge Court, Twincreek Court, Creekview Court, Roundtree Court, Paw Paw Drive, Catalpa Drive, Red Bud Drive, Graham Drive, State Street and King Court.

Property owners are assessed for the curb work.

In addition, the council approved refinancing $8.6 million for road, building and other infrastructure projects.

The council also passed a resolution opposing centralized collection of business net-profit tax returns by the State of Ohio and other municipal income-tax provisions that are in the 2017-2018 State of Ohio budget proposed by Gov. John Kasich.

Additionally, council approved a $259,600 contract with Maguire Iron Inc. for exterior painting and repairs to the water tower on Lytle Five Points Road and a plan for a proposed coffee shop at 860 W. Central Ave.

The council meets at 320 W. Central Ave. Work sessions begin at 6 p.m., formal meetings at 7 p.m.

For more information, call 937-748-4343.

Cities can turn red light cameras back on, court rules; state threatens to fight back

Published: Wednesday, July 26, 2017 @ 9:11 AM
Updated: Wednesday, July 26, 2017 @ 10:19 AM

Whaley reacts to legal victory

The Ohio Supreme Court said in a 5-2 decision issued Wednesday that the 2015 state law that makes it all but impossible for local governments to use traffic cameras is unconstitutional because it conflicts with cities’ home-rule authority.

The decision impacts Ohio’s 8 million licensed drivers, gives cities the green-light to start using traffic cameras again and delivers a win to municipalities that have seen an erosion of home-rule powers in other court decisions. It also is an invitation for lawmakers opposed to traffic cameras to look for other ways to curtail their use.

The city of Dayton filed the legal challenge against the state of Ohio after legislators passed the law that curtails local authority to use traffic enforcement cameras.

Dayton challenged three elements of the law, which took effect in March 2015:

• that a full-time police officer be posted at each camera in operation;

• that cities conduct a three-year traffic study before deploying a camera;

• that speeders be given “leeway” — 6 miles per hour over in a school zone and 10 mph over elsewhere — before issuing tickets.

Related: Return of Dayton’s red light cameras uncertain after Supreme Court arguments

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said residents want traffic cameras in their neighborhoods to make roadways less dangerous for motorists and pedestrians.

“We get asked regularly by neighborhoods to please put cameras in,” Whaley said.

Dayton still has fixed traffic cameras along various roadways and at intersections across the city, but the city no longer has a contract with the company that previously operated the devices.

Dayton officials said they will review the Supreme Court’s decision to decide how to proceed, and plans for traffic cameras are expected to change considerably.

The city wants to establish a thoughtful and effective camera program that improves community safety while not taxing law enforcement’s limited resources, Whaley said.

“We’ll go back and will be very forthright with the community about what we’re going to do, just like we’ve been the entire time,” Whaley said. “I’m very pro camera, but this ruling just came down.”

State may not be done targeting cameras

Even as city officials look at turning the cameras back on, state lawmakers are vowing to look for ways to shut them down again.

State Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, the architect of the law declared unconstitutional, said the ruling only applies to home-rule cities and the law is still in place for Ohio’s 1,300 townships and 88 counties as well as villages. When lawmakers return from summer recess in September, Seitz said they’ll consider requiring photo-enforcement tickets go through municipal courts instead of an administrative process.

The state may withhold local government fund money from cities that receive money from traffic cameras, he said. “Since they’re getting money that way, they obviously don’t need our money. I think those two things would have a very salutary effect in taking the profit out of the policing for profit equation and render the decision today a pyrrhic victory for those folks like Dayton and Toledo that think they are above the law.”

Seitz said an outright ban could be put in place through a constitutional amendment — something he said is not being considered at this time.

Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, said “I think the people of Ohio overwhelmingly oppose red light cameras. The Legislature tends to feel the same way.”

Obhof said he has yet to review the ruling in the Dayton case. He noted that he would consider a ban bill if he believes it has a chance of withstanding a constitutional challenge. “It doesn’t do us any good for us to pass another law that we expect to be struck down. So anything that we would do from here out, as when we worked on it the first time, we’ll take our time, try to be thoughtful about it and come up with a result that maybe the courts will agree with, maybe they won’t, but one that we think going in will withstand scrutiny.”

Before the law took effect, Dayton asked the common pleas court to declare elements of the law unconstitutional. The trial court agreed with the city but the Second District Court of Appeals overturned that decision. The city then took it to the supreme court.

The ruling

The Ohio Constitution, adopted in 1912, gives municipalities “home-rule” powers of self-governance as long as local ordinances don’t conflict with the state’s general laws.

Justice Patrick Fischer, writing the majority opinion, said that the law “infringes on the municipality’s’s legislative authority without serving an overriding state interest and is therefore unconstitutional.”

The supreme court ruled that the requirement that an officer be present while cameras are operating contradicts the purpose of deploying cameras to conserve police resources. It also said prescribing a “leeway” improperly dictates to cities how they must enforce speed limits within the city limits and it operates “as a de facto increase in speed limits in the limited areas covered by a traffic camera.”

Justices William O’Neill and Patrick DeWine dissented on the ruling, saying that the law promotes the uniform application of traffic regulations across the state.

In his dissent, DeWine said justices in the majority were over-stepping into legislators’ roles.

New restrictions force an officer to be present if drivers are ticketed for speeding or running red lights

Related: Dayton to reboot its traffic camera program

“But today, the plurality in essence says we know what is in the sate’s interest better than those 132 representatives of the people do. And if we don’t think a law is a good idea, then it must not be a general law, and we can strike it down,” DeWine wrote.

The decision only strikes down the three elements of the law that Dayton challenged. Other provisions remain in effect, including a requirement that camera manufacturers provide maintenance records to local authorities and a prohibition on insurance companies using camera-caught violations to set motorists’ policies and rates.

Dayton began using traffic cameras in 2002, first to enforce red-light traffic violations and later to catch speeders. Accidents decreased where cameras operated. Other cities and villages across the state also used traffic cameras to catch violators.

While Dayton was the lead on the case decided Wednesday, Springfield, Akron, East Cleveland, Toledo and the Ohio Municipal League weighed in with briefs supporting Dayton’s argument. The Municipal League represents 700 cities and villages.

In oral arguments held in January before the high court, Dayton said that the General Assembly specifically wrote the law to block local jurisdictions from using the cameras. Dayton had more than 36 cameras operating when the law took effect.

The state argued that municipalities could still use cameras to issue citations as long as they followed the law and local ordinances didn’t conflict with the state statute. The state said the law provides a statewide framework on the use of traffic cameras.

Meanwhile, Dayton city officials approved a plan to bring back cameras to catch speeding and red light violations. The city plans to use 10 fixed camera systems, six hand-held devices and two portable trailer units. Officers will be present when any of these devices are in operation and documenting traffic violations.

Related: Traffic cameras coming back to Dayton at these locations

RELATED: Middletown, New Miami: High court ruling won’t change stance on cameras

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TIMELINE OF THE CASE

July 14, 2017: Dayton traffic cameras: What’s really going on?

July 12, 2017: Traffic cameras are coming back to Dayton in these locations

April 20, 2017: Dayton plans to bring back traffic cameras

March 5, 2017: Return of traffic cameras uncertain after arguments in case before Supreme Court

Jan. 10, 2017: 5 things to know about Dayton’s traffic camera case

Jan. 3, 2017: Supreme Court announces it will hear Dayton’s red light camera case

May 17, 2016: Dayton wants to restart traffic camera program

Aug. 7, 2015: Court sides with state in Dayton traffic camera case

March 4, 2015: Cities fear rise in traffic accidents as camera use ends

6 Dayton locations where companies want to grow medical marijuana

Published: Wednesday, July 26, 2017 @ 4:00 PM
Updated: Wednesday, July 26, 2017 @ 4:00 PM

A harvester examines marijuana buds from a trimming machine near Corvallis, Oregon. Researchers complain the government marijuana consists of leaves and unsmokable stems. ANDREW SELSKY/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Staff Writer
A harvester examines marijuana buds from a trimming machine near Corvallis, Oregon. Researchers complain the government marijuana consists of leaves and unsmokable stems. ANDREW SELSKY/ASSOCIATED PRESS(Staff Writer)

Six locations in Dayton are potential sites for marijuana cultivation, according to city records obtained by the Dayton Daily News.

City zoning records list six companies that also appear on the list released by the Ohio Department of Commerce of 185 companies that applied for licenses to grow medical cannabis in Ohio. The state will issue only issue a dozen each of level 1 and 2 licenses, allowing the recipient to grow initially up to 25,000-square-feet and 3,000-square-feet, respectively.

One of the companies is listed in state records as Agrogenius LLC, but company representative Adam Goldie said the company name is actually Agrogenics LLC.

A seventh company named Sriven Farms LLC filed zoning forms for four different properties in Dayton, but that company is not listed as having applied for a license from the state.

RELATED: State identifies medical pot applicants

The city records, required as part of each company’s state application, simply says there are no prohibitions against a medical marijuana facility at that location.

If they get a license from the state, each company would still have to go through formal zoning approval.

RELATED: Ohio-based retailer partnering with Canadian medical marijuana company

The companies and addresses listed in city records are: 

1. Ohio Medical Holdings LLC,

5031-5059 Riverton Drive, Dayton

Level 1 application

2. Certified Cultivators, LLC

1654 Springfield Street, Dayton

Level 1 application

3. Ohio Clean Leaf, LLC

2046 Valley Street, Dayton

Level 2 application

4. Pure Medicinal Co

660 Milburn Ave, Dayton

Level 2 application

5. Bickshaw Investment Group

5732 Webster Street, Dayton

Level 2 application

6. Agrogenics LLC

1516 Stanley Ave., Dayton

Level 1

RELATED COVERAGE

Township bans all but one company from growing medical pot

Medical marijuana grow site in Clark County on state application list

Riverside delays vote on land sale for growing medical marijuana

Congressmen Jordan, Davidson pushing welfare reform plan

Published: Sunday, July 23, 2017 @ 2:45 PM
Updated: Sunday, July 23, 2017 @ 2:45 PM

Freedom Caucus former Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, speaks to reporters during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Washington Bureau
Freedom Caucus former Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, speaks to reporters during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)(Washington Bureau)

More than 20 years after Bill Clinton, John Kasich and Newt Gingrich reformed “welfare as we know it,” two Ohio lawmakers are vowing to do it again, saying the government must do more to encourage people to work rather than live off of federal largesse.

Reps. Jim Jordan, R–Urbana, and Warren Davidson, R–Troy, want to start by looking at some 92 federal means-tested programs — they include everything from cash aid to food aid to housing — and consolidating them. They say any social worker would be daunted by finding the best out of 92 programs, and many of them are duplicative.

Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, a member of the Freedom Caucus, leaves a meeting with the conservative coalition on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, March 23, 2017, after their trip to the White House. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)(Washington Bureau)

They want to do this through a bipartisan panel comparable to the federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission: A bipartisan group would spend a year taking a hard look at all 92 programs, consolidating and eliminating where necessary and Congress would have to vote for those recommendations on and up-or-down basis.

RELATED: $2M welfare fraud investigation ends in arrests, police say

Davidson said it’s not a matter of reducing benefits. It’s far easier for a social worker trying to help a family in need if he or she is familiar with the programs available, he said. It’s hard to be fluent in 92 different government programs.

But more broadly, Jordan, who, like Davidson is a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, would like to beef up work requirements in order to receive federal benefits. While the Clinton-era welfare package created work requirements through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, such requirements weren’t instituted for other means-tested federal programs.

While the 1996 welfare overhaul “did what it was supposed to do, it really applied to one program,” said Davidson. “It didn’t have as broad an effect as it could have.”

The federal government has made it optional for states to impose work requirements on food stamps, but it hasn’t really forced them to, say analysts.

Success stories

Davidson and Jordan argue that the states that did impose work requirements are success stories. In Maine, Gov. Paul LePage in 2014 instituted work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents in order for them to receive food stamps. Three months after he instituted that policy, the number of able-bodied adults without dependents receiving food stamps had plummeted by 80 percent, according to the conservative Heritage Foundation.

“I think at the federal level, we ought to say, ‘these are federal dollars. Do what you want to with your own state, but for the federal dollars, you only get them if you expect able-bodied adults to work,” Davidson said.

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Jordan said the 1996 overhaul worked relatively well until the financial crisis, when then-President Barack Obama lifted some of the work requirements to receive TANF. During the meltdown, Obama allowed states to seek a federal waiver from work participation rules that allowed welfare recipients to also engage in one of 12 work activities, such as job training. In order to receive the waiver, states had to come up with a plan to better promote ways to help people find work.

Ron Haskins, a senior fellow at the moderate Brookings Institution and a former senior advisor to President George H.W. Bush, said Obama may have loosened the work requirements during the Great Recession, but the move was temporary.

“I’m not aware of a permanent change in the law because of the recession,” he said. “I certainly do not think President Obama deliberately undermined the work requirements. If he did, it didn’t work very well because they’re still pretty strong.”

Haskins said the larger problem is that states, over time, have figured out how to meet the work requirements without requiring people to work.

“Work programs are very difficult to run,” he said. “They are administratively complex and states have never been especially good at it…they play all these games and it’s the games that need to stop.”

‘We’re not doing enough of that’

Robert Doar — a former commissioner of social services in New York during part of the welfare implementation who is now with the conservative American Enterprise Institute — said the federal government has not done enough to encourage and promote work in food stamps, public health insurance, housing assistance or Medicaid.

He said the policy of “giving benefits and saying, ‘see you in a year’” “is not really helpful in my opinion.”

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“What a person seeking assistance really wants, really needs is a pathway to a job, and we’re not doing enough of that,” he said. “In the new administration, the focus is more on work and less on just providing assistance. I think that’s good.”

Doar said the 1996 effort worked, with the Earned Income Tax Credit, food stamps and public health insurance also helping to improve the poor’s standard of living. The poor, he said, “are much better off than they were in 1993 or 1994.”

“That doesn’t mean it solved all the problems or that we don’t have a lot more to do in helping poor Americans, but it certainly did what it set out to do.”

Counter view

Melissa Boteach, vice president of the Poverty to Prosperity program at the left leaning Center for American Progress disputes the notion that the 1995 welfare reform was a success. Twenty years after TANF was created, “it helps very few struggling families with children,” she said.

According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, while the program served 4.4 million families in 1996, it served 1.6 million in 2015, even as the number of families with children rose to more than 7.1 million by 2016.

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She said Temporary Assistance to Needy Families also was not effective in responding to the Great Recession. Hardship went up, the unemployed went up, and so did food stamps and other programs for the poor.

TANF, Boteach said, “remained flat” even as unemployment and poverty rose.

She disputes the philosophy that a work requirement will motivate someone to work, saying taking a person’s food away is not going to make them a more productive job applicant.

“Work requirements don’t create jobs,” she said. “Work requirements punish people while they’re looking for jobs.”

Austin Landing South development could spur $350 million in investment

Published: Friday, July 21, 2017 @ 9:39 AM
Updated: Friday, July 21, 2017 @ 1:18 PM


            So far, Austin Landing South is undeveloped land at the southeast corner of Austin Boulevard and Interstate 75. This view comes from the south side of the property in one of Springboro’s industrial parks. Staff photo by Lawrence Budd
            Lawrence Budd
So far, Austin Landing South is undeveloped land at the southeast corner of Austin Boulevard and Interstate 75. This view comes from the south side of the property in one of Springboro’s industrial parks. Staff photo by Lawrence Budd(Lawrence Budd)

As much as $350 million could be invested in development of Austin Landing South, the project proposed in Springboro across Austin Boulevard from the existing mixed-use development, according to Springboro City Manager Christine Thompson.

RELATED: Development to move across Austin Boulevard into Springboro

That would be 10 times $35 million of potential public investment in roads and other infrastructure Springboro could provide to support the project to be constructed on about 60 acres, just east of Interstate 75, on the southwest corner of Austin Boulevard and Ohio 741, Main Street in Springboro.

On Friday, local officials and developer Larry Dillin said the 10 percent public share was necessary to make the project a reality.

“To develop a special project of this magnitude requires a public/private investment partnership to accomplish creation of space that is both special and lasting. That’s my commitment to Springboro and theirs to me,” Dillin said in a statement.

Thompson said the city government was considering the financial commitment to the project - on some of the last undeveloped acres within Springboro’s city limits - in hopes of securing “the best thing for the Springboro region.”

“This is an unusual opportunity. There are a broad spectrum of opportunities and development possibilities,” Thompson said. “So we need to be open to examine all of them.”

The Warren County Port Authority is preparing to finance as much as $35 million for Springboro to use in “acquiring, constructing, and equipping certain public improvements in connection with the Austin Landing South project”.

Earlier this month, the authority board approved a resolution in preparation for the financing, as well as a cooperative agreement with the city to help with the project, located in Montgomery County.

On Thursday night, Thompson and Assistant City Manager Chris Pozzuto said they were unaware of the port authority financing resolution and indicated the amount to be borrowed and repaid through diversion of property taxes on the improvements was yet to be determined.

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“We don’t have all of the numbers yet,” Thompson said after contacting port authority officicials about the resolution, approved on July 10 by the port board.

There has been no public presentation on Austin Landing South. Few details have been provided.

Dillin recently described his vision as “a mixed-use development that can readily adapt to the changing retail industry.”

RELATED: What’s next at Austin Landing?

How much of the development winds up residential, commercial or retail has yet to be determined.

Thompson has expressed hope Austin Landing South is developed as Levis Commons was by Dillin in the Toledo area.

In emails obtained by the newspaper, Dillin indicated Austin Landing South would be “pedestrian oriented and created at a quality level comparable to Levis Commons- complete with clock tower and fountains.”

RELATED: Springboro council traveled to Toledo area to tour example of developer’s work

Earlier this year, the entire city council and staff spent the night at the Hilton Inn at Levis Commons. During the trip, the Springboro group was to tour the development, hear a presentation from Dillin and meet with local officials involved in the Levis Commons development in the Perrysburg area.

On July 10, the Warren County Port Authority approved an agreement, mirroring one already approved by the Springboro council, establishing a partnership in developing Austin Landing South - although the land is in the Montgomery County portion of Springboro.

Austin Landing South “is expected to enhance, foster, aid, provide, and promote economic development within the City and the State by creating and preserving jobs and employment opportunities and enhancing the availability of adequate housing in the City and improving the economic and general well-being of the people of the State of Ohio,” according to the resolution.

“The Authority is possessed of broad powers relating to economic development and the creation and preservation of jobs and employment opportunities,” according to the cooperative agreement.

The other resolution indicates the financing would be used by the port authority to “reimburse” the city or developer for infrastructure, such as roads and utilities.

It indicates Springboro is expected to use money from a tax incremental financing fund set up for the Austin Development District - land in the four quadrants around the interchange in Miamisburg, Miami Twp . and Springboro. Property taxes from building improvements typically comprise tax incremental financing funds.

But no development agreement has been reached between the port authority, Dillin, acting on behalf of Springboro Landing Associates, and the city.

The resolution including the $35 million figure fulfills “an IRS requirement allowing future tax revenue to be used for developer public improvements. We were given that number as an estimate, but the plans are not ready to the best of my knowledge. We are waiting for their and the city’s lead,” Martin Russell, deputy administrator in Warren County, said in an email.

The newspaper has been covering development around the Austin Boulevard interchange for more than a decade. We will continue to bring you the latest information on this regional economic development, including the unfolding of plans for Austin Landing South, the 60 acres of the development district in Springboro.