Housing

BG family finds a place to call home with Habitat for Humanity

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News As Marlene Lerch and her family stood in their new kitchen, they were enveloped by family, friends and strangers who helped build their home. “I had no idea, all these people would be here,” said Lerch’s daughter, Audrey, a senior at Bowling Green High School. But Bowling Green had waiting a long time for Tuesday – 25 years in fact. So they weren’t about to miss this celebration of the first Habitat for Humanity home built in Bowling Green. “This is huge,” said Mark Ohashi, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Wood County. “This is what we’ve been looking to do since Maxine Miller started this.” After building 39 homes throughout Wood County, Habitat finally constructed a home in Bowling Green. “This is a dream come true,” Ohashi said. The dream now belongs to Lerch, who has lived for 10 years in a local manufactured home park. She dreamed of finding a better home for her three children. She finally found it near the corner of Manville and Clough streets. “It’s really exciting,” Lerch said as she gazed at her new living room packed with guests. “This is the new beginning for my life. A new chapter – just to have a home,” that is warm and safe, she said. Audrey, Eric and Jeremiah Lerch check out their new home. Lerch and her daughter put sweat equity into their new home. “Me and my mom came every Saturday,” to work and during the week to pickup, Audrey said. That gave Audrey plenty of time to imagine how she will arrange her bedroom when they move in on Thursday. “I have it all set up in my head,” she said, as she stood in her empty bedroom. Next door, her brother Eric, 12, was checking out his bedroom. While the Lerch family gets the home, the rest of the community gets the good feeling of doing something good. “It was really an amazing blend of partnerships,” Ohashi said of the project. One of the first partners was the city of Bowling Green, whose…

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Another plat approved in Stone Ridge subdivision

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Stone Ridge subdivision, on the west edge of Bowling Green, is experiencing a growth spurt. The new homes will be maintained by a homeowners’ association – meaning no planting, mowing, mulching or shoveling by the homeowners. Last week, the city planning commission approved preliminary plans for Plat 8 with 26 new homes in the golf course development. The plans received unanimous approval, and will not need City Council’s blessing. Stone Ridge currently has 208 occupied residential homes, according to Bob Spitler, with the development. Nine new units are under construction, and 16 lots are available for sale. The growth at Stone Ridge comes on top of already healthy housing additions in Bowling Green this year. According to Planning Director Heather Sayler, the city has requests for 19 new single-family homes so far this year, compared to 14 at this time last year. This newest plat in Stone Ridge will consist of a new road called Winterwood Court, with 19 lots on 7.2 acres that will be included in a separate homeowners’ association which will maintain the yards, landscaping, snow removal for each lot, and the common area. There will also be five additional lots on the extension of Pine Valley Drive. The developer of the new lots is Stone Ridge Partners of Bowling Green Ltd. The builder for Winterwood is Tony Buff Custom Builders. The planning commission gave a waiver for Winterwood Court, which exceeded the length allowed for cul-de-sacs in the city. The extra length had already received approval from the city fire division. Dave Saneholtz, of Poggemeyer Design Group, explained that the 19 homes on Winterwood would be positioned using a “building envelope” on the lots. There will be no common walls, as in another section of Stone Ridge, where two homes share the walls between them. “We believe this will work out great,” Saneholtz said. “I’ve seen some of these in Perrysburg, and that’s where we’re losing some people to.” Also at last week’s city planning commission meeting, a public hearing was held on the rezoning of 0.3247…


Students stand up against guns and for decent housing

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Inspired by students across the nation, and empowered by their efforts in this community, six students took to the podium at Bowling Green City Council Monday evening. They were seeking two basic rights – decent affordable housing, and no gun violence in their schools. Aidan Hubbell-Staeble asked City Council to use its power to push the state legislature to pass legislation on guns – something that would provide real tangible solutions to stop gun violence in schools. “Enough is enough,” he said. One by one, the other students – Carlie Pritt, Zach Davis, Hannah Barnes, Connor Froelich and Alyson Baker – stood at the podium and read aloud the names of students killed by guns in schools, starting with those at Columbine. They ended with the children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, then told City Council they would return at the next meeting to continue with the names of students killed since Newtown. “The students of Bowling Green High School and Bowling Green State University will continue to fight for this issue until we see change,” said Alyson Baker. Baker was one of the organizers of the local walkout in honor of the Parkland victims. More than 300 high school and middle school students joined the walkout. Council member Bruce Jeffers explained that the city is limited in any action it can take on firearms. “It’s pretty hard to sit and listen to all those people gone under those circumstances,” Jeffers said of the victims’ names read aloud. Council member Sandy Rowland praised the students for becoming part of the governmental process. She stressed that gun violence is not a political issue, but a life or death issue. “Thank you for coming out tonight and participating,” Rowland said to the students. Council member Daniel Gordon said the problem may be that local voices are not being heard at the state level. “They’re not quite listening to us,” he said. “I would like to think that our input matters.” Gordon also criticized those who have targeted the local students for organizing a…


East Siders want to make most of city’s new action plan

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   East Siders want to know exactly how the new Community Action Plan will improve their neighborhoods. How will it help stem the steady decline of housing quality? How will it make landlords better maintain their rentals? Bowling Green City Council members Daniel Gordon and John Zanfardino held a meeting Tuesday evening for their constituents in Wards 1 and 2. The wards are on city’s East Side, which is the primary target of the new Community Action Plan. Many of the residents want to make the most of the plan – not settle for the easiest goals to achieve. Rose Hess objected to some city officials suggesting that the “low hanging fruit” of the very detailed plan be tackled first. She wanted that terminology banned from further discussions. “Let’s go for the high ones,” Hess said. Gordon agreed. “Let’s go as bold as we possibly can.” Those high hanging fruits include rental property certifications, help for homeowners sprucing up their East Side homes, efforts to make the East Side more appealing to families, and plans to make East Wooster more attractive to people entering town. The residents were curious about the proposed rental registration program. The landlord “self-certification” program falls short of rental inspections that some East Siders have sought for years. Both Gordon and Zanfardino said the self-certification process does not go as far as some residents had hoped. “Self-reporting is different than being inspected,” Zanfardino said. September Killy-Knight said the inspections are a matter of safety for renters. And John Roberts said the rental evaluations should not be voluntary. But both Gordon and Zanfardino also know the uphill battle the city has fought and lost in previous attempts to implement some type of rental inspection program. Gordon recalled efforts to license rentals in 1987, when his father was on City Council. Zanfardino said similar attempts were made again about 10 years ago. “Contentious doesn’t really capture it,” he said of opposition from landlords in the city. Though it may not be exactly what some residents want, the rental checklist may have…


Saturday series explains how to age in place

From OPTIMAL AGING INSTITUTE Bowling Green State University’s Optimal Aging Institute will present a Saturday morning series on Aging in Place, April 7, 21, and 28 from 10-11:30 a.m. at the Wood County District Public Library. Participants will learn about universal design, preventing falls, no-cost/ low-cost ideas for modifications, safety checklist to evaluate your current home, zero-step entries, how to improve your lighting, bathroom/kitchen renovations, resale considerations, and more. Our moderator and chief presenter is Joy Potthoff, Ed.D, retired interior design educator and co-chair of the League of Women Voters BG Committee on Senior Concerns; she is assisted by Paula Davis, director of the BGSU Optimal Aging Institute. Program #1: Saturday, April 7, 10-11:30 a.m. In this first session, Dr. Potthoff will introduce universal design’s chief features, and participants will receive a checklist to identify problems in their own homes. Guest speaker Lauri R. Oakes, RN, MBA, Joint Replacement Nurse Navigator at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center, will discuss how to keep your body healthy and strong to avoid falls – and how to keep our pets from sending us to the hospital! Program #2: Saturday, April 21, 10-11:30 a.m. (NOTE — NO program on April 14!) Dr. Potthoff is joined today by interior designer Sharon Gargasz; together they will discuss lighting, furniture, entries, and room modifications. Lisa Myers, LISW-S, Director of Social Services, Wood Co. Committee on Aging, will share options available for funding aging in place. Participants will also receive information from the National Council on Aging about reverse mortgages. Program #3: Saturday, April 28, 10-11:30 a.m. In this final segment, Dr. Potthoff will complete our discussion of home modifications. Joining her will be Bill Abbott from W H Abbott, Finish Carpenter/ Home Remodeling, and Al Green, Broker, A.A. Green Realty, who will answer your questions about remodeling for aging in place, and how that might affect your home in the real estate market. PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUESTED by April 4, for planning purposes; however, all are welcome. To register, go to bgsu.edu/oai. Questions? Please call the BGSU Optimal Aging Institute at 419-372-8244.