Next step in Melody Parks housing, retail development approved by default

CEDA board members vacate seats, chairman resigns ahead of emergency meeting.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Land planned to be used for a housing development with restaurant and retail space has been approved by default, as the Central CEDA Regional Planning Commission (CEDA) did not take action on the plot within 30 days of an October vote.

Board members last month voted down the Melody Parks plot of land 4-3, but officials at an emergency meeting Wednesday night, however, said the plot instead was approved by default.

Clark County Development Director J. Alex Dietz said prior to the October vote, three board members had automatically vacated their seats due to missing three of six consecutive meetings. This brought the vote to 2-2, and the plat of land was approved by default when no further action was taken, Dietz said.

CEDA board chairman Dan Kelly resigned on Tuesday and did not attend the meeting. He wrote a resignation letter critical of Springfield officials.

Melody Parks, which would take up 400 acres along East National Road near Bird Road, is planned to include retail, restaurants, multi-family apartments, patio and single-family residential components.

City manager Bryan Heck said after the meeting that the city is excited to see the project move forward.

“It’s been a long time since Springfield and Clark County has seen projects like this, like Melody Parks,” Heck said. “We know we need housing — we have a housing shortage in our community — and projects like this and partnering with a developer like Borror is going to be critical to the success of this community, and the future of this community.”

Columbus-based developer Borror is leading the $400 million Melody Parks project, a name that is a nod to the former drive-in at the site. Officials said it is the largest project of its kind in the area in decades.

In September, Springfield City Commissioners amended a Community Reinvestment Area to include the residential portion of the development, meaning up to 700 planned single-family houses would not be taxed on their new values for 15 years as an incentive for the project.

Clark-Shawnee Local Schools, which will be the home school district for any students whose families move into Melody Parks, has expressed concerns about an influx of new students from the development. The district also opposed a previous proposed tax plan, a proposed TIF, for the single-family properties.

Superintendent Brian Kuhn said during the October meeting the residential component of Melody Parks could result in more than 375 new students for the district.

The CRA presents a challenge for the district, as it would add those students without contributing taxes for the school, Kuhn said.

In Kelly’s resignation letter, he said that many people are upset about “the vindictive actions” by the Springfield City Commission in passing the CRA, creating larger class sizes, an increased demand for busing and a greater need for teachers and services for students with functional needs.

The longtime former chairperson also questioned police and fire services’ abilities to serve the development outside of Springfield city limits.

“In conclusion my decision to resign wasn’t easy,” Kelly wrote, saying he did not want to be associated with the actions the city has taken.

Dietz said that he was grateful for Kelly’s long service to the CEDA Board, which is a joint board created through an agreement by the city of Springfield and Springfield Township officials two decades ago. The agreement spelled out revenue sharing and was designed to ease controversies over annexations and developments such as Melody Parks.

At the October CEDA meeting, Kelly, who voted to deny the plot of land, said he was unhappy that the Springfield Division of Police had not yet officially approved the project, though Heck said that Chief Allison Elliott approved of it despite the lack of official paperwork being submitted at the time.

When Dietz asked the board to cite a section of code as the reason for the denial, Kelly said, “We all know why we voted no; now we can sit here and make up something if you want us to make up something for the sake of paperwork.”

Kuhn said after Wednesday’s meeting he is working to ensure the “right things” are being done “the right way.” He said he is concerned about the attendance policy being enforced after the vote was already made and how the board could hold a public meeting with only two members present, which is not considered a quorum.

The superintendent said with the approval, barring any other obstacles, the district has “no recourse.”

“We as a school district want to act with integrity and act above the line, and any partnering entity or those that are doing business, whatever it is — county leadership, city leadership, school leadership, you name it — we would hope they’d be above the line as well,” Kuhn said. “So we’re just kind of watching.”

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