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Springboro residents to protest residential rezoning tonight

Published: Thursday, December 07, 2017 @ 7:02 AM
Updated: Thursday, December 07, 2017 @ 10:09 AM


            Residents of the Heatherwoode planned community in Springboro are planning to protest the proposed rezoning of neighboring land for residential development.TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Residents of the Heatherwoode planned community in Springboro are planning to protest the proposed rezoning of neighboring land for residential development.TY GREENLEES / STAFF

Residents of a local golf-course community are planning to oppose the proposed rezoning of neighboring land for residential development.

At 7 p.m. today, Springboro City Council is to hold a public hearing on rezoning of 2.3 acres at 1360 S. Main St., just north of the entrance to the Heatherwoode community.

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The property owners, the Daniel Family Trust, are seeking rezoning to allow the development of a 7-lot subdivision at a density, following the dedication of 0.22 acres of right-of-way along South Main Street, of 3.29 units per acre.

Shawn Hunter, president of Heatherwoode Homeowners Association board, said 50 signatures had been gathered on petitions to be presented to the council at the public hearing.

Hunter said there would be a “large contingent” representing the 212-home development also home to the city’s golf course.

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Hunter said Heatherwoode residents are concerned about the effect on their property values and traffic at rush hours and when school lets out across Ohio 741, Main Street in Springboro, at the junior high school.

“A lot of people didn’t know about it,” said Hunter, who said he discovered the proposed rezoning late last month when driving to the Christmas In Springboro festival.

“We really exist to preserve the community. Part of that is preserving the property values,” Hunter said Wednesday night.

This morning, City Manager Chris Pozzuto said it was uncertain how the development would affect property values.

“I can say generally, however, that historically, through many developments around the town, property values in Springboro have always increased over time,” he said.

After reviewing the plan, Hunter said he and the board were no longer concerned about the density of the proposed development, but still worried the homes built there could be valued lower than those in Heatherwoode.

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“It’s more the uncertainties,” Hunter said. “There are no assurances in terms of what these homes will look like.”

Residents are also concerned about the effect on tree lines and creeks shared by the developments.

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Hunter said he had communicated with Pozzuto and sent the city a letter Wednesday about the residents’ concerns.

“We’re anticipating a crowd,” Hunter said.

The council is not expected to vote tonight on the rezoning. The council meets at 7 p.m. at city hall, 320 W. Central Ave. in Springboro.

UD wants to pay city of Dayton for a dedicated housing inspector

Published: Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 4:20 PM


            This University of Dayton-owned house at 223 K St. suffered a floor collapse during a party in early November 2010. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
This University of Dayton-owned house at 223 K St. suffered a floor collapse during a party in early November 2010. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

The University of Dayton plans to pay for a housing inspector to try to prevent and fix unhealthy and unsafe living conditions in student neighborhoods.

About 2,145 students live in housing in two student neighborhoods, and the school wants to ensure that these residential properties comply with housing, zoning and building codes and regulations, university officials said.

On Wednesday, the Dayton City Commission will consider an agreement in which UD will pay for a conservation specialist to oversee about 400 university-owned homes and 115 non-university rental properties and private residences, school officials said.

RELATED: UD announces $11M project to build student apartments

UD would provide the city with $90,000 annually for four years for an inspector to monitor and enforce city code in the neighborhoods on the east side of Brown Street, between Wyoming Street and Irving Avenue.

The specialist also will focus on about 80 residential properties west of Brown Street in the Fairgrounds neighborhoods, the school said.

Duties will include annual interior inspections, regular exterior inspections, responding to complaints and following up on violations.

UD says it has spent about $30 million in the last five years maintaining, improving and adding new housing in the student neighborhoods.

“With more inspections and better follow up, the properties will be safer,” said Bruce Bullman, UD’s assistant vice president for residential properties in a prepared statement. “That’s our number one concern — that our students live in safe, healthy housing.”

RELATED: UD to repair floors in 301 student homes after some sink following parties

Homes in the neighborhoods are aging and exterior or interior problems bubble up, like they did a few years ago when the floors sank in multiple student homes after some large parties.

Eleven UD students were displaced from two university-owned houses after the floors “shifted a few inches” during large gatherings in 2013. In 2010, a floor inside a 97-year-old home owned by UD collapsed when students jumping to a band playing on a cinder-block and wood stage buckled and dropped to the basement.

The city contract will ensure properties in student neighborhoods are held to the highest standard of maintenance and upkeep, said Rick Krysiak, UD’s vice president for facilities management and planning.

“The dedicated inspector will provide annual interior inspections as well as consistent exterior inspections to identify and better follow up on issues that arise between inspections,” he said.

Parents of students regularly contact UD administrators and representatives about substandard living conditions or other issues with non-university rental housing, like clogged drains or leaking ceilings, officials said.

But the school says it has no sway over private property owners.

The new conservation specialist, however, will be able to take immediate action to investigate the complaints and reach out to landlords to seek a remedy, officials said.

Conservation specialists also monitor and try to address issues with trash, abandoned and junked vehicles and zoning, nuisance, environmental and fire codes violations.

Springfield approves increases to water, sewer bills

Published: Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

The rate increase, spread over three years, comes as a result of updates to the sewer system mandated by the EPA.

Water and sewer rates in Springfield will increase nearly 40 percent over the next three years to pay for more than $80 million in federally mandated projects designed to cut down on raw sewage overflows into local waterways.

FIRST REPORT: Springfield water, sewer rates may increase 40 percent by 2020

The Springfield City Commission approved increases of 13.7 percent in 2018 and 13 percent in both 2019 and 2020 at last week’s meeting. Springfield’s water rate remains one of the lowest in the region, Springfield City Manager Jim Bodenmiller said.

The projects have been mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland said last month.

“The federal government is making us spend money and isn’t giving us any money to cover that, so this has to be paid for by the local folks,” he said. “The feds are the ones who decided we had to spend it. It wasn’t our decision. We didn’t have a choice.”

All bills are calculated based on water usage. A typical home using about 3,000 gallons of water per month paid about $32 per month for sewer and water last year. With the hike, that same home will see its rate increase to $36.37 next year, $41.11 in 2019 and $46.46 in 2020.

Springfield is expected to spend more than $250 million over the next 25 years on sewer projects as part of its combined sewer overflow program, designed to keep raw sewage from flowing into local streams and waterways, such as Buck Creek and Mad River.

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Last year the city saw a decrease in its overall water usage due to one major business leaving town and overall conservation efforts at both homes and businesses. The city’s sewer fund is projected to have about $6 million in debt next year to pay for those combined sewer overflow projects, officials said.

The $60 million high-rate treatment clarifier — the single most expensive item ever approved by city commissioners — began construction in 2012 and was completed in 2016. The plant now has the capacity to treat up to 140 million gallons of sewage per day.

The $20 million Erie Express Sewer, which will send sewage from the area of Bechtle Avenue and Ohio 41 straight to the Wastewater Treatment Plant on Dayton Avenue, is currently under construction and is expected to be completed in November of 2018.

Springfield ranked among the 10 lowest cities in the region for water and sewer utility rates this year, according to the annual Oakwood Water and Sewer Rate Survey released in March. Springfield residents pay about $189 every three months for combined water and sewer, based on 22,500 gallons of water used every three months, ranking seventh lowest overall.

Water rates have remained stable for nearly 9 years. With the increase, Springfield’s rate will remain in the bottom-15 municipalities in the 63-community region, officials said.

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By the Numbers

$250 million: Estimated total cost of all projects required to cut down raw sewage overflows into local waterways.

$80 million: Money the city has spent on federally mandated sewer projects since 2012.

$60 million: Cost of the high-rate treatment clarifier at the wastewater treatment plant, the single most expensive item ever approved by city commissioners.

13: Percentage increase of water and sewer rates in each of the next three years.

Staying with the story

The Springfield News-Sun has written extensively on the city’s Combined Sewer Overflow long-term control plan for the past several years, including stories digging into the costs and the amount of sewage released into local waterways.

Montgomery County drivers could pay more as result of new state law

Published: Friday, December 08, 2017 @ 10:19 AM


            Montgomery County drivers could pay more if an additional $5 tax is approved. A state law changed to allow the additional fee, which would generate about $2 million for local roads and bridges. Here, drivers find themselves in a crawl all the way from downtown to the Edwin C. Moses Boulevard interchange. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF
            Chris Stewart
Montgomery County drivers could pay more if an additional $5 tax is approved. A state law changed to allow the additional fee, which would generate about $2 million for local roads and bridges. Here, drivers find themselves in a crawl all the way from downtown to the Edwin C. Moses Boulevard interchange. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF(Chris Stewart)

Motor vehicle registration and renewal costs in Montgomery County may go up another $5 beginning in 2019 because of a tax proposal to help pay for future road and bridge work.

The tax could generate about $2 million a year for the Montgomery County Engineer’s Office through use of a new law in the state transportation budget that passed in March and allows counties to add the fee to pay for project planning and improvements.

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Montgomery County Administrator Joe Tuss said the engineer’s office is expected to submit the plan next month.

“This is something that is sorely needed in this community. Those dollars will be devoted to the road and bridge infrastructure needs,” Tuss said.

The soonest the new fee could hit vehicle owners is January 2019. More than 518,000 vehicles are registered in the county, according to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV).

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Montgomery County has 541 bridges and 320 miles of roadway, some not in the best shape, said Montgomery County Engineer Paul Gruner.

“None of the roads are in a condition I’d like them to be in,” he said. “Our real income over the last 25 years has increased less than 10 percent, while all of the costs of everything we buy, including asphalt, has more than doubled … That’s the fight we are up against.”

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Phil Parker, president and CEO of Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, said the new tax will likely be supported by chamber members — especially in a local economy heavy on manufacturing and logistics — because the funds will be directly invested on bridge and road projects that will provide a return to the community.

“No one likes extra taxes, no one likes extra fees,” Parker said. “If we ask for a fee increase but designate it for improvements to the transportation infrastructure, I think much of the business community will look at it and say that’s not a waste.”

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Most vehicle owners in the county already pay permissive motor vehicle license taxes of $20, which was the limit until the new law took effect in June. If the county commission approves the measure next year, the additional taxes would climb to $25 for many.

The base cost for passenger vehicle registrations is $34.50 annually before tacking on the permissive taxes, which can vary between counties and even by municipalities within the same county if a local government has levied the tax.

Montgomery County vehicle owners in Jefferson Twp., Moraine, New Lebanon, Phillipsburg, Vandalia and Verona currently pay only three of the $5 incremental levies.

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The new tax would apply to all vehicle types except for concrete pumps and concrete conveyors, Gruner said. There are also exceptions for some federal, state and local government vehicles and those owned by veterans under certain circumstances.

Two Ohio counties have already approved the fee and will begin collecting it in the 2019 registration year, according to the BMV.

Montgomery County road and bridge projects are financed with a share of fuel tax revenue, the federal Highway Trust Fund and motor vehicle registration fees.

Operations within the county engineer’s office are largely funded through the basic motor vehicle licensing tax, which will provide about $5.2 million of the office’s $14 million 2018 budget. Existing permissive license taxes will account for $4.2 million, and fuel taxes will add $2.3 million, according to county records.

Two public hearings are required before the provision can be voted on by the Montgomery County Commission.

Former stripper to launch second bid for governor

Published: Friday, December 08, 2017 @ 6:00 AM
Updated: Friday, December 08, 2017 @ 9:01 AM

Larry Ealy, 2014 candidate for governor who has taken out petitions to run in 2018.
Larry Ealy, 2014 candidate for governor who has taken out petitions to run in 2018.

A former exotic dancer who went by the name Luscious Larry is launching a second bid for Ohio governor.

Larry Ealy of Trotwood has picked up petitions to run in the May 8 Democratic Primary, according to the Montgomery County Board of Elections.

In 2014 Ealy and running mate Ken Gray of Cincinnati received 17,197 votes — 17 percent of those cast statewide — in the Democratic primary against former Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald and Sharen Schwartz Neuhardt of Yellow Springs. FitzGerald won the primary with 83 percent of the vote but lost the general election to Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

RELATED: Ohio governor candidate’s son accused of falsifying hundreds of tax returns

During an interview at the time, Ealy said that he was running because he believed “the Jewish Democratic party is behind the deprivation and the conspiracy to keep black people deprived of all civil rights.”

He also said he was allowed to practice law without a license.

Ealy and three others were investigated for alleged irregularities in voter signatures on the nominating petitions he submitted to get on the ballot in 2014.

RELATED: Fraud probe launched in candidate’s run for governor

A grand jury reviewed all four cases and did not return indictments on Ealy or Keith Belluardo of Dayton, said Greg Flannagan, spokesman for Montgomery County Prosecutor Mathias H. Heck Jr.

Two others were indicted. Bruce Black of Dayton pleaded guilty to two counts of prohibitions related to petitions — a fifth degree felony — and was sentenced to probation on Oct. 26, 2017, Flannagan said. Jody Lane of Dayton was indicted on the same charges and a warrant was issued for him on June 29, 2017, according to documents on file at the Montgomery County Common Pleas Clerk of Court.

Ealy and Belluardo both denied wrongdoing in a 2014 interview.

RELATED: Local governor candidate denies he committed election fraud

Ealy, who could not be reached for comment, is the father of Lance Ealy, who was sentenced to 124 months in prison in 2015 after being convicted of charges involving filing more than 150 fraudulent federal income tax returns.

Lance Ealy sent to prison in tax fraud case

Other stories by Lynn Hulsey

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Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer to run for Ohio House

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