Hudson -- Residents will no longer be able to apply for grant funds from Summit County.

Council members were split on leaving the Summit County's Community Development Block Grant program, which they entered June 21, 1993.

The 4-3 vote June 20 means the city will no longer participate in the program.

Council members Dan Williams, William Wooldredge, Dennis Hanink and Alex Kelemen voted yes to leave the Block Grant program while Beth Bigham, President Hal DeSaussure and Casey Weinstein voted against leaving.

The grant program benefits seniors, people with disabilities as well as low/medium income individuals. Businesses that created jobs for low/medium income employees also qualify for grants.

Grants included infrastructure improvements, home repairs, economic development, demolition of blighted structures, assisting development for disabilities or physical care needs; veterans; educational programs; senior recreation or education; and homeless shelter programs.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provides the funding based on the populations of communities participating in the county. Hudson qualified for $57,000 and the county loses that funding annually because Hudson is no longer part of the program.

Council member Alex Kelemen proposed the resolution to terminate Hudson's participation.

Kelemen said Summit County considered "local ordinances for stormwater systems, sidewalks, and landscaping that often add unnecessary costs to affordable housing development projects" as "barriers to affordable housing" and the county could override local zoning rules that require them.

"Council, staff, and commissions have fought hard to make sure stormwater, sidewalks, trees and landscaping are included in development plans, and we don't consider them 'barriers' to be eliminated," Kelemen said.

Summit's Department of Community and Economic Development Director Connie Krauss and Senior Administrator Holly Miller provided information June 13 about the Department of Housing and Urban Development's requirements to participate.

Miller said the clauses that would override local zoning haven't been enforced.

"I don't know if our attorneys on staff would agree that this eliminates future risk," Kelemen said. "Past performance is not guarantee of future results. I've been crossing streets for many years without being hit, but I still look both ways before I cross."

The HUD program does a good job for residents in counties who need it, but Kelemen said Council's first obligation is to look after Hudson.

"There is a risk it seems to me," said Council member Dennis Hanink. "We are signing onto the county's plan.

"If we stay with this agreement, we are opening ourselves up to some people telling us how to adjust our Land Development Code," Hanink said. "That concerns me. I may not have been done in the past, but it could be done in the future."

Council member William Wooldredge agreed the federal program could override Hudson's LDC.

Council member Dan Williams said he had serious concerns about HUD and was frustrated with different answers from the Block Grant representatives, Krauss and Miller.

"They helped 10 Hudson families in five years," Williams said. "How much money was involved? I guess a little. Our people don't qualify for much."

"It cost us nothing, and residents can't participate alone," said Council member Casey Weinstein. "I view it as sticking a finger in the eye of Summit County if we don't participate."

Hudson families have used it in the past, he said. It's a job creating program.

"HUD has never come into Hudson and told us because we're part of this program how to build, so it's not a legitimate reason to not be a part of this," Weinstein said. "I strongly support being part of this program"

Council President Hal DeSaussure said they looked at leaving the Block Grant program three years ago, and he voted in favor of withdrawing.

After a unanimous vote to leave, HUD said the city had missed the deadline and could not leave the program in 2014, according to Communications Manager Jody Roberts.

"The information at that time [2014] was that if Hudson withdrew, the residents in Hudson who qualified could still participate ... but that is not the case," DeSaussure said.

Kraus and Miller clarified they were wrong in 2014 and if Hudson withdraws, its residents would not be eligible for grants.

DeSaussure said the theoretical risk of HUD overriding local zoning has never been done.

"I understand it's a real loss to Hudson city and the county if we don't participate," DeSaussure said.

Council member Beth Bigham said it was a theoretical impact to zoning and Hudson's boards and LDC should be strong enough to hold up to any threat.

"I'd rather err on the side of being generous to the poor," Bigham said. "There have been many good things done for the community."

Mayor David Basil supported remaining in the agreement because of the aging population of Hudson.

"The programs funded through this grant enables seniors to age in place," Basil said. Citizens could not participate if Council removed Hudson from this program, he said.


Phone: 330-541-9434

Twitter: @LauraFreeman_RP