HUDSON -- The Downtown Phase II plans for developing a 20.5-acre of property on Morse Road includes moving out the salt dome, school buses and Hudson Public Power.

The threat of snow kept many from attending the March 13 forum about the Downtown Phase II project, but residents will want to attend the April 13 meeting at Jo-Ann's Conference Center to view the conceptual plans.

A panel March 13 with City Manager Jane Howington, City Planner Greg Hannan and Assistant City Engineer Chris Papp focused on the reasons for the development and the new location for the bus garage, salt dome and Hudson Public Power.

The League of Women Voters sponsored the event at Laurel Lake Retirement Community to recognize Sunshine Week, when the LWV focuses on transparency of government bodies.

Downtown Phase II is an extension of Phase I which created the First & Main shopping area. With Phase II, one major project impacts others, Howington said.

Being downtown, the property could generate property tax and income tax dollars but because the city and school-owned properties are tax exempt, the land is underutilized, Howington said.

A Tax Increment Financing district is being used on the northern part of the property to raise revenue from the new taxes to pay for the improvements, Howington said.

A TIF may be used for the southern part to finance a parking garage if it is determined the downtown needs one, she said.

The new project will strengthen retail and the tax base and accommodate the need for additional types of housing and office space, Howington said. In addition, city-owned Velocity Broadband offers an incentive for technology-based businesses to locate in Hudson.

Bus Garage

One of the projects is to move the bus garage, salt dome and Hudson Public Power out of the downtown area near Morse Road and Owen Brown Street to a city-owned property in southern Hudson.

The city worked with the schools for several years to find a location for the bus garage. The schools tested its bus routes for each city-owned site and decided on the Koberna property at 5810 Hudson Drive located between state Route 91 and Terex Road on a short one-way stretch, Howington said.

The current bus garage in downtown has 68 spaces for buses and about 70 spaces for employee parking, which is inadequate, according to Supervisor Kim Lane. At least 10 employees have to use a back lot for parking. In addition the current bus garage has two bays for repairs.

The new bus garage would have 118 spaces for employee parking and 68 spaces for buses, Papp said. It would have a four-bay garage and vehicle wash bay for buses and city vehicles.

On the same property would be a 10,000-square-foot auxiliary facility for salt, Papp said. The city and schools would share utilities, including city water.

Because much of the area for the buses and salt storage would be paved, two storm water detention basins are planned and a bio retention area on the southern end of the property, Papp said. The unused western portion of the city-owned property would not be developed because of wetlands and steep terrain.

Plans for the bus garage and salt dome should be completed this year with construction planned for 2018, he said.

A resident asked about recycling water for the wash bay, but Howington said salt is difficult to remove from the waste water after cleaning the vehicles, and the city did not want salt to go into the stormwater system so waste water will go into the sanitary sewer system.

A resident on Barlow Road was concerned about noise, air pollution and well water contamination.

"The city is trying to accommodate the citizens' concerns," Papp said.

Papp said the plans include building a mound and adding evergreens to the north edge of the property as an additional buffer above what is required. They also had input from a noise consultant, and the EPA will regulate air pollution.

"The buffer is denser than the existing buffer [in downtown]," Hannan said.

Ramco Property

Another interlocking piece in the project is the Ramco property on Hudson Drive south of Terex Road, Howington said. She added the city bought the property to keep Ramco in the city. Ramco built a new facility on Hudson Industrial Parkway.

The old Ramco property has three buildings, Howington said. One will temporarily be used by Hudson Public Power until a facility is built on Hines Hill Road. The city will eventually sell the buildings.

The Downtown Phase II project is a result of the 1995 Comprehensive Plan and the 2016 Comprehensive Plan that identified an aging population in Hudson and desire to walk to downtown.

"Empty nesters moved out of the city because of a lack of housing," Howington said. "The housing is a big demand, but we want to balance it with business."

The 2008 economic downturn influenced housing because empty nesters didn't leave their large lot single family homes, and fewer new families with children didn't move in, Howington said. The schools saw a decline in enrollment.

About 20.5 acres make up Downtown Phase II with 12 acres of green space where a trail is planned along the edge as part of a network to connect city trails to Summit County Bike & Hike trails, Hannan said.

The developer, Testa Companies, is scheduled to present the conceptual plan to Planning Commission on April 24.

"There is a long way to go after the conceptual plan," Howington said.

More information about Downtown Phase II can be found on the city's website www.hudson.oh.us

LWV tries to educate and engage citizens in their government. Membership is open to both women and men over 16 years old. For more information, go to www.lwvhudsonohio.org/index.html.

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