It’s election season, and while most Ohioans are focused on State Issue 2 (Collective Bargaining) and State Issue 3 (health insurance), we here at the Smith household are focused on the race for Granville Village Council. And for good reason – my wife Julie Fudge Smith is a candidate for Granville Village Council.
- Julie Smith campaigns door to door in one of Granville’s leafier neighborhoods
If elected, Julie will be a great Councilwoman. She’s incredibly bright, a great problem-solver, and what strikes everyone is the passion she brings to the campaign and would bring to the Council. It’s no secret that we love Granville. The Village faces some tough times in the next few years, with our budget on course to fall into the red in the near future. Then there’s the constant balancing act of maintaining Granville’s character, history, and values, while also promoting a healthy climate for business growth.
Too many Granvillians tend to fear that these two goals are at odds. They can be, but if you’re managing things well, they’re not only complimentary, but almost indispensible to one another. If we become a distant Columbus bedroom community, we’ll lose much of our sense of community and charm. It is important that people work, live, and shop in Granville. That’s what makes Granville so unique. We’re not a museum piece, or one of these restored small towns. We’re a functioning, breathing community where people live and work. A prosperous business community is also necessary to keep taxes reasonable. Let’s face it – it’s expensive to live in Granville. Most of us are happy to pay for the quality of life we have here, but it’s tough for any community to live by household taxes alone. Our seniors and young families, in particular, cannot afford an ever increasing tax burden that falls on individual households. We want small, locally owned business to thrive.
As a small business owner here in the community, Julie grasps this problem. Currently, the Village permiting processes, for example, are often needlessly complex. For example, Granvillians sometimes find themselves bounced back and forth between the Village Planning Commission and the Board of Zoning and Building Appeals when attempting to make updates or additions. Here’s another example: The Village’s sign ordinance is so strict that virtually every sign needs a variance. They always get them, but it’s needless cost and time delay. If every sign variance is granted, maybe we need to revisit the ordinance. That doesn’t mean we allow huge neon billboards up and down Broadway and South Main. It simply means that we lower the cost and time to update signage that is going to be approved by the Village authorities anyway. Here’s another example: Areas along the Route 37-Route 16 corrider – the entry to our Village – are subject to multiple and sometimes conflicting zoning requirements due to all the “overlay” districts.
Smart growth recognizes the need for a thriving business community in Granville. Granville must be a place where Granvillians – and others – work, shop, eat out, and stroll the sidewalks of Broadway. Granville’s small, locally owned businesses already struggle to compete with the strip malls in Heath and Easton.
Further, too often it seems that the Council focuses on trivia at the expense of more pressing issues. One Councilmember is known for sometimes measuring the planters outside a town restaurant to make sure that they are the proper distance from the building. Meanwhile, the Village’s comprehensive plan is long delayed, and tough decisions about River Road development and the south entrance to the Village are put off are kicked over to consultants. We even have our own little pedestrian bridge to nowhere, built over Raccoon Creek at substantial cost, but of little use until the Council decides the future of River Road development. The water agreement with Alexandria (we supply our smaller neighbor with water, at some profit) hasn’t been properly renegotiated and signed in years (it’s currently operating month-by-month with no signed agreement) and homeowners in Bryn du have legitimate gripes that their water and sewer “user fees” are in fact being used to cross-subsidize other Village operations, but the Council and staff spent considerable time worrying about a leash law because one councilmember’s daughter was scared by a dog when visiting a different city.
Julie also understands how unchecked growth can radically change an area in just a few short years. We moved to Granville six years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia, another small, historic town in a rural county. We watched as Fredericksburg’s charm sank under the weight of commuter traffic and outlet malls. By the time we left Fredericksburg, it had lost most of the charm that first attracted us. Even in the sluggish national economy, Licking County’s population continues to grow rapidly, and the new highway will bring more growth. Julie supports our Village’s efforts to acquire green space, and understands as well that these efforts, too, are jeopardized if the Village’s tax base is eroded by the destruction of our locally owned and operated businesses, or if the tolerance for taxes fades under the constant spending for consultants. Julie has earned the endorsement of the Granville Area Chamber of Commerce, the first time ever that the Chamber has made an endorsement in Village races.
So if you live in the Village and happen to see this, I hope you’ll think about voting for my wife, Julie Fudge Smith, for Granville Village Council.
Now a disclaimer – those are my thoughts, and why I support Julie. That’s not Julie talking. I’m her husband and biggets fan, not her brains or conscience. If you have questions for Julie, I’m sure she would be happy to answer them at email@example.com.