CRAIG BEACH Worries build over rentals

The developer isn't sure if he can get tax credits needed to construct the houses.
CRAIG BEACH -- What happens to a community when it becomes the site of as many as 40 new homes for families earning less than $27,900 a year?
Some residents of this village think they can answer that question, but they may not stick around to find out.
Triumph Avenue resident Sandi Pontius said some of her neighbors are planning to move if homes for families earning less than $27,900 each year are built here. She said she and her neighbors are worried that low-income housing could attract people who would cause an increase in crime.
Pontius, 59, added that she isn't opposed to growth in the village. However, she added she doesn't want her neighborhood to become a "big drug hole."
The NRP Group, a development firm in Cleveland, is hoping to construct as many as 40 single-family homes during the next few years. Most of the homes would be rented to families earning less than $27,900 each year.
Council action: On Monday, village council failed to approve a resolution expressing support for the project. Larry Ellis, one of four village council members who voted against the resolution, said he felt most village residents opposed the project.
Only Councilman Bob Richards voted for the resolution. Councilman George Meleski did not attend Monday's meeting.
NRP Principal Al Scott said without the resolution, he isn't sure if his firm can obtain a tax credit needed to construct the project.
Opposition: The possible increase in crime wasn't the only reason some village residents oppose the project. Diana Santiago, 43, of Beach Lane, said she felt the village needed more playgrounds and parks, not homes.
"There's nothing around here for the kids to do," she said.
Laurel Avenue resident Loretta Reynolds, 43, said she was worried that the construction of the homes would interrupt the peace enjoyed by her family. Reynolds, as well as Pontius and Santiago, live near property slated to be the site of 24 of the homes.
"It's quiet back here; we like that," Reynolds said. "We stay here and mind our own business."
She noted she wasn't aware of the project until she spoke with a reporter Tuesday.
Pontius also said she didn't know much about the project. She said she learned about the project by reading The Vindicator, and she hasn't discussed it with village officials or the developer.
"We didn't know anything was taking place on it," Pontius said. "We were kind of shocked."
A public hearing about the plan was held Feb. 1.
Maintenance concern: Beach Lane residents Dora Zandarski, 42, and Joan Cook, 67, also said they felt they didn't know the details of the project.
"Nobody's really cut us in," said Cook, Zandarski's mother.
Zandarski said she wants to know how families who earn less than $27,900 will be able to pay the rent on the homes. She said that while she isn't sure if she opposes the project, she is concerned that families who make less than $27,900 won't be able to maintain the homes.
Rent for the homes would be between $575 and $750 each month. The total value of the homes will be between $125,000 and $130,000.
"The price of the house has got me blown away," she said.
Interest: Amy Burton, the co-owner of Burton Homes in Milton Township and an NRP consultant, has said she has received several calls from people interested in the homes. She also has noted that 1,500 families within five miles of the village earn less than $27,900.
Those families would be eligible to live in 85 percent of the homes. The remaining 15 percent would be available to all interested renters or buyers.
Village Mayor Camille Gaia said he feels the homes would provide much-needed property taxes for the village. Laurel Avenue resident John Geist, 71, echoed Gaia's comments. He was the only village resident questioned Tuesday who said he supports the plan.
"They need a few bucks to get some improvements," Geist said.

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