The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

February 28, 2013

Rock Creek moves toward housing project

By CARL E. FEATHER - cfeather@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

ROCK CREEK — A zoning-change ordinance received unanimous support of village council Tuesday evening, paving the way for construction of 40 low- to moderate-income units on Jefferson Street.

Mayor Beverly Martin said the two ordinances had their third readings Tuesday evening. One ordinance changed the zoning on an affected parcel from R-1, single-family only, to R-3, multi-family use. The second changed the zoning on another parcel from R-2, single-family and duplex, to R-3. She said about 50 acres total were affected by the zoning change.

She said the zoning change is the last step village council needed to take in order for The Woda Group, LLC, a Westerville developer, to begin work on the project, which will reclaim land where blighted homes once stood. The official address will be 2789 Jefferson St.

According to communications between Frank Fugate of the Woda Group and the village, the developer is proposing a 40-unit family development with six of the units being Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant. There will be a mix of configurations — one, two or three bedrooms — built as townhouses with attached single-car garages.

The project will be designed to be energy efficient. The units are rentals, not for private ownership.

“I definitely think we (need this),” Martin said. “We need growth. We need more people to support the local businesses.”

The construction itself will generate jobs, and, for the village, the residents will be subject to the village’s 1 percent income tax. There will be tap-in fees for the village’s water and sewer systems, as well as ongoing revenue from billing.

“I don’t want to have to raise rates on residents, I’d rather spread it among more residents,” Martin said.

The added traffic flow is not expected to be a problem in the neighborhood; Martin said the street was recently paved and is ready for development. A blighted home, slated for demolition, occupies the address.

Larry Meaney, director of the county’s department of environmental services, said the village has a 100,000 gallon storage tank that should meet the water demands the additional residents will put on the village’s water system. The village purchases its bulk water from the county system. The county operates the village’s wastewater treatment plant, and Meaney said that plant operates under capacity, except in times of heavy flow from groundwater infiltration.

The project received the support of Ashtabula County commissioners, who stated in their letter to Fugate that “family housing is greatly needed in Rock Creek” and that the project will benefit the village and county. Both the mayor and president of village council sent letters of support this month, as well.

Work on the concept, dubbed Majors Crossing, began last summer, according to a letter from Fugate to the Ohio Housing Finance Agency. The site was secured Oct. 16, after other sites and locations in the area were ruled out. Discussions with the mayor and village administrator began in early November. Rezoning work began later that month.

The Woda Group planned to submit an application for Low Income Housing Tax Credits this month.

According to the Ashtabula County Building Department, an inquiry was made last month about the project, but no building permits have been issued. Fugate did not respond to the Star Beacon’s call on Wednesday.