Carriage Trail development again proves to be Huber Heights City Council flash point

By Dave Lindeman - For the Courier




HUBER HEIGHTS — The Carriage Trails development once again was a point of contention at Monday night’s Huber Heights City Council meeting.

Council was faced with a series of ordinances and resolutions concerning the city’s agreement with the DEC Land Co. to help with funding the development. The city’s role in the development has been a sore spot with some council members and the debate was continued Monday night when the 19th amendment to the agreement with DEC came before council.

Each time the city is requested to provide more funding for the project, it comes before council as an amendment to the agreement between the city and DEC. The first ordinance on the list Monday was for $960,000 in public improvements for 120 new lots in the development.

Council Member Tyler Starline, who has voted against many of the amendments in the past, had a different outlook this time around.

“Part of what I look at specifically concerning this amendment as opposed to what we’ve looked at in the past is the amount of investment, or subsidy, depending on your nomenclature, that the city government is providing for this project,” Starline said. “This is the first one that I can tell based on the spreadsheet that I was provided, where the percentage of TIF being used for public infrastructure costs is below 20 percent.”

Starline said the city started out with a close to 70 percent contribution at the beginning of the project. He cited the city’s reduced contribution and added protective language for the city in the 19th amendment as reasons for supporting the funding this time around.

“This is one amendment,” he said. “And if another amendment comes forth next year and starts to go up to 20, 30, 40 percent, then my record stands on where I believe where that amendment needs to be and what my vote may very well be on that amendment.”

Mayor Tom McMasters said he thought it was council’s obligation to make sure the development succeeds and not base support on the 20 percent guideline.

“The decision probably should be made on how much we need to supplement in order to make sure the development stays a thriving and successful development as opposed to the percentage we are giving,” McMasters said. “If 20 percent isn’t enough for the development to thrive, then you probably should give 50 percent. If 5 percent will keep the development thriving, then you should probably work to 5 percent as opposed to an arbitrary number.”

Council Members Glenn Otto and and Richard Shaw weren’t impressed with any of the arguments for supporting the most recent amendment to the agreement. They have consistently opposed support for the project and did so again Monday, voting against the ordinance as well as a series of resolutions and ordinances for infrastructure work in the development. All of those issues passed 6-2.

Later in the meeting, Carriage Trails popped up again in an ordinance that lumped various city expenditures into a supplemental funding bill. Items in the ordinance included money for the Carriage Trails infrastructure fund as well as various other expenses, including money for required advertising for the upcoming city charter amendments that will go before voters at the primary election.

Things got tricky when council voted on waiving the second reading of the ordinance so it could be passed Monday night. Council Member Janelle Smith had to leave the meeting early due to illness, and it requires six votes under the city’s charter to waive a second reading.

“In the past we’ve run into issues where there have been expenditures that were tied together with other expenditures that we knew we would have issues from certain members on council,” Otto said. “This is another one of those situations. I would have thought we would have learned our lesson by now, but we haven’t.” Otto said that while he supported parts of the ordinance, he could not support the legislation as a whole. So he voted no, as did Shaw, which meant the ordinance had to go to a second reading at the next council meeting.

That left council trying to figure how to pay the bill for the advertising for the charter amendments, since the legal deadline runs out before the next meeting. After much discussion, council finally decided to break out the $4,000 expense for the charter amendment advertising and authorize the city clerk to transfer funds from the travel fund to the advertising fund so the deadline could be met.

The other items in the supplemental funding legislation will have to wait until the next meeting.




By Dave Lindeman

For the Courier

Reach Dave Lindeman at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @HH_Courier.

Reach Dave Lindeman at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @HH_Courier.