Commissioners submit letter of opposition to OHFA


By Patrick Keck - pkeck@aimmediamidwest.com



WHEELERSBURG — The Scioto County Commissioners spent part of its previous session discussing a $9.5 million Wheelersburg senior and family housing development.

Watching for several weeks, the board determined that they are not in favor of the 46-unit apartment community and voted to submit a letter of opposition to the Ohio Housing Finance Agency.

“The location of the development is not ideal,” said Commissioner Bryan Davis during Thursday’s meeting. “I think it would have been behoove of the developer to talk with the trustees before announcing the project.”

When it comes to the complex, the board cited topography as the primary issue as its proposed location is on a floodplain. Their decision follows suit with Porter Township Board of Trustees, who Davis said has also submitted a letter of opposition.

The developer behind the Wheelersburg Lofts on Tennyson Avenue is the Dayton-based St. Mary Development Corporation, a 32-year-old faith-based nonprofit according to its website. These letters come just weeks ahead before the potential funding award is set to be announced May 20.

St. Mary notes the floodplain as a 0.2% annual flood hazard in its online description, using data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It also plans on constructing all portions of the design- the building, parking lot and sidewalks- to be at least 1 foot above the floodplain.

The same page also details the development’s layout, including the dimensions for its one, two and three-bedroom apartments. Renters must be qualified based on income to be considered eligible, where monthly rates are expected to be between $350 and $900.

The lack of engineering drawing however is another issue of concern for Davis. This plan he feels would give the commissioners a better understanding of how the complex would be prepared for flooding.

“Without seeing a solution to these issues, it’s hard to support a project that does not look like it’s viable,” he said, a sentiment shared by community members he believed.

Commissioner Scottie Powell said the board’s decision to submit the letter had nothing to do with the development itself, rather it was just the location that presented a difficulty.

“We definitely need housing, especially senior housing,” he said, a five-year projection showing a need for 2,000 houses in the area. According to U.S. Census figures, 18.6% of the county population is above the age of 65.

Powell further explained that developers like St. Mary, who is also developing a 53-unit housing community in Portsmouth for seniors, are trying to score points for grant applications.

Without fully knowing an area, he believes this point-chase can distract from the logistical needs of a project. The needs in this case are flooding preparation, where a conversation with either the commissioners or the trustees Powell said could have revealed better spots to break ground.

“I think that’s a great project that they’re doing there,” he said, referring to the Portsmouth Senior Lofts set to open in July 2022 at 813 Campbell Ave. “But for today and for this location and the concerns for flooding and this logistics for this community, that is why I recommend we sign this letter.”

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By Patrick Keck – pkeck@aimmediamidwest.com

Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3101 ext. 1931, by email at pkeck@aimmediamidwest.com, or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.

© 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.

Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3101 ext. 1931, by email at pkeck@aimmediamidwest.com, or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.

© 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.