2023 Election - Plans for Phase 2 / Downtown
I will start with some background. Honestly there is a lot of misinformation out there so it is good to start with baseline information. Our comprehensive plans drive Hudson development. It is updated roughly every 10 years. There was a 1995 plan, 2004, and 2015. They can all be found here if you want to go through them. https://www.hudson.oh.us/694/Previous-Comprehensive-Plans
The 1995 plan mostly said "... maintain its historic nature, bedroom community...". The 2004 plan basically said the same. We had grown a lot between 1995 and 2004 as a community, but the vision stayed the same.
In 2015 the plan including a lot of high density ideas for development and the idea of historic bedroom community went into the background. I get it - communities change and grow. Hudson has grown a lot since the 1969 when we had 5,000 people.
The problem has been that most of those developments (higher density ideas) have failed to be built primarily because the neighboring areas didn't like the density planned. Hudson has a lot of traffic already and our neighbors are about fed up with it. Additionally I don't believe the 2015 plan did a good job of reflecting resident needs. I spoke with some members on that committee and they explained that they provided their input to a consultant, and this plan came back that no one agreed with. But that was used and the committee was over.
Phase 2 was a part of that plan. Two developers have had ideas they brought to the city - but the city put a lot of money in the ground clearing the way for Phase 2 land development. How much? about 8 million, plus 1.3 more for the Windstream building. None of the developers were able to produce plans that could have paid those monies back over time and been profitable enough for the developers to move forward.
In 2019 there as a referendum election about Phase 2 that failed. Not by a lot - but it did fail to pass. Council at that time had continued moving forward on the project despite the vote. I didn't think that was very representative of our elected officials - so I ran for office.
I was in a minority position on council in 2019/20 opposed to this development but there was nothing I could do really. The first developer discussions did break down quickly - but in 2021 Fairmount came to the table with a plan. Fairmount owns a large portion of downtown now is it is invested in the community - but the previous council wanted their higher density residential plan to go through so badly that their very last council meeting sitting in a majority, they passed legislation that permitted uncapped liability to The City of Hudson should the Fairmount development not go forward "for any reason". There was even a letter discussing that the developer might have $500,000 into the plan before it was approved... so I assume that would have been the 'ask' should it not go through.
When I became the Council President at the next meeting I introduced legislation to repeal the liability aspect to the city should the development fail. I wanted to cover the city from a liability standpoint. Based on their documents, should the developer just walk away they could have handed Hudson taxpayers a hefty bill. It was repealed and we continued to work with Fairmount for several months in developing a plan for a new Heinens and housing. The Heinens side looked really good. The housing side did not look as good. all 7 members of council at the time wanted some changes made - at which point Fairmount decided to pursue other opportunities. It is hard to make a development work when you have so much money in the ground and you do that before you ask the community if they want it. Past decisions impact the future.
What is the go-forward? A Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee has been working on a new plan for the past 5 months. We moved forward a new comprehensive plan so we could assure the community that they were being heard. I am sure there will be some combination of elements - some housing - some park - some business. But what that makeup is exactly should come from you and the steering committee. I had someone say "there should be ground floor empt-nest'er living here and if you build 150 units, you know they will sell". Sure they will. But there are 24,000 other residents in Hudson who are not getting anything from those new homes (other than more traffic). We should have a good idea of how that plan looks this winter and be prepared to talk with developers after that. I expect before any more money goes into the ground, council will come back to the community and ask if we got it right. I represent you. Having lived in so many parts of Hudson, I know the unique blessings of the various areas. Elmcrest, Glastonbury, Hudson Drive, Towbridge, Atterbury, Walters Rd.
I am asking for your vote on November 7th 2023.