Bellefontaine Examiner

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Council cool to housing concept

A Tri-County Community Action’s idea to develop a 48-unit apartment complex for low-to-moderate income seniors received a cool reception Tuesday from the Bellefontaine City Council.

Council members Diane Hager and Allen Hadley questioned the need for more housing and none of the council was willing to propose a straw vote to see if the city should provide a letter of support at this time.

Tri-County’s Executive Director Denise Birt said her agency wants to apply for a predevelopment grant of $30,000 to study the feasibility of the project which would be on 10 acres along Sloan Boulevard across from Timber Trail Road.

A grant application to land federal tax credits which would be sold to private investors to raise capital for the project would come next year, she said.

Tri-County’s housing specialist Monty Stratton said it would cost about $5.5 million to build.

A couple could earn around $30,000 a year to be eligible to rent, he said.

Ms. Birt said there is a need for more senior housing in this area and the demand will grow.

Mr. Hadley said he wasn’t so sure.

“We have no places for seniors with higher incomes,” he said. “My mother-in-law recently moved here and she found plenty of places to rent but she made too much.”

Ms. Hager said she fears such a development will not be cared for over the long haul and property managers will relax the age rules.

Ms. Birt assured her that Tri-County will retain ownership of the property and use reputable management companies to maintain the development and make sure it is rented to residents 55 years and older.

Council President David Henry asked if council members wanted to vote on a letter of support for the proposal. None made a motion.

He then assigned it to Ms. Hager’s Rules Committee and told Ms. Birt that the council might be able to support it in the future.

Bellefontaine Shade Tree Commission leader Joanne Ritter also addressed the council.

She reported the commission will plant 17 new trees this year, focusing on east Columbus and Williams avenues.

Maples along both streets were hit hard in the June 29, 2012 windstorm. The commission wants to use its limited resources to replant maples so the trees are well established in time for the 2015 Tree City USA annual convention which Bellefontaine will host.

Mrs. Ritter said the commission intends to plant trees in the new boulevards along south Main Street. However, the commission members are currently reviewing the best species of trees for that section.

She expects work will begin in a year or two.

The commission receives $10,000 annually from the city along with the services of city street crews to water and prune trees.

Airport manager Steve Buchenroth provided an update on operations at the Bellefontaine Regional Airport.

He said his company Midwest Corporate Air Inc. now employs a full-time mechanic who also handles maintenance duties; a part-time accountant and Web site manager; and full-time instructor.

There are 29 aircraft at the field including MCA’s fleet. Mr. Buchenroth said he would like the city to consider reducing T-hangar rental costs.

“Marysville has a waiting list and Kenton has better pricing,” he said. “I think a price adjustment could help us attract plane owners to our field.”

A five-year contract renewal with MCA was given a first reading during Tuesday’s meeting. Bellefontaine will continue to pay $50,000 a year to MCA for its management of the field.

The Derelict Housing Committee will meet at 4:30 p.m. Sept. 4 in Council Chambers.

The next council meeting is at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 27.

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