Lima Council approves family housing and lot swap

By Josh Ellerbrock -

LIMA — Lima City Council passed two initiatives Monday that will lead to additional development throughout Lima and its downtown core..

The more controversial of the two passed bills involved a $500,000 payment that will fund the creation of family-friendly supportive housing units meant to help homeless families in need. Local mental health agencies, including the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board and West Ohio Community Action Partnership, have publicly advocated for the creation of such a facility, but councilors were divided if they wanted the city’s funds involved.

Now passed, the ordinance also sets aside $150,000 to fund a “business assistance program” that could loan up to $5,000 grants to eligible businesses, as well as $172,207 to set up a rental assistance program for low- to moderate-income residents facing evictions in the following months.

Councilor Jon Neeper and Council President John Nixon provided the two “no” votes on the bill’s third and final reading held Monday. Councilor Derry Glenn abstained due to his employer having an interest in the project.

As for the second ordinance, council unanimously passed the agreement which allows a parking lot swap between the City of Lima and John Heaphy’s holding company. Heaphy, a local restaurateur, has been heavily involved in Lima’s downtown development, and he’s currently looking toward the deal as a way to help kick-start a block-wide development near the intersection of Spring and Main streets.

Under the agreement’s proposed terms, the city would trade its municipal parking lot on Spring Street for a Heaphy-purchased undeveloped lot near the Central Avenue and Market Street intersection. Heaphy would also deposit $100,000 to the city to help develop an landscape the lot at that location.

In return, Heaphy would be able to create an expanded outside bistro seating section for a line of restaurants on Spring Street and Old City Prime, as well as additional parking near the site of the future Greater Lima Region Amphitheater.

In other downtown news, Councilor Neeper asked that councilors begin to re-engage in the topic of an “entertainment district” to be located in downtown. Initially proposed by Ray Magnus, a downtown business owner, back in 2018, the idea to establish a designated outdoor refreshment area, or DORA, had initially been shuffled to the back burner.

“I think it’s something that is going to be absolutely imperative with what’s happening downtown,” Neeper said. “I think it’s something that we need to do, that needs to be worked on.”

By Josh Ellerbrock

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

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