Lima committee discusses single-family housing

Apr. 30—LIMA — Councilman Jon Neeper said Monday night's Neighborhood Concerns Committee meeting was meant just to get the conversation rolling.

But any potential drama over the city attempting to begin defining a single-family household was averted before it even started, as the committee shared resident concerns. Community members, including another council member, a representative from the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board and a member of the city's growing Haitian population, shared their input.

"We're not talking about throwing people out on the street," Neeper said, while also stressing the seriousness of the meeting.

Councilman Thomas Jones said he was pleased to have good interactions with the community while discussing important issues such as homes being overcrowded with both residents and parked cars.

"I think it was wonderful that we had people come in like a man representing his country," he said of Amos Marcelin, a resident of Haitian origin who spoke to the committee. "What I got from his conversation was that he was interested in learning how to be a part of our community because these neighbors are learning the ways of our community, and we're dealing with an issue that we've never seen in this city before."

Marcelin said after the meeting, "We have a different culture. In Haiti, we are sensitive to people like you are, and we all care about our neighborhood, but sometimes we do things we think are good and instead they hurt others. So I think we need to consider ourselves and see in each other what we see in ourselves."

The issue of overcrowded homes in the city predates the arrival of Haitian migrants in Lima.

"I've been getting calls about five to seven college kids living in a single home for three to four years now, and it disrupts the ecosystem of a neighborhood when each one of them has a car," Neeper said. "People will park in the treeline and produce disruptive noise."

Tammie Colon, executive director of the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Allen, Auglaize and Hardin Counties, encouraged the city to listen to all voices in the process.

"Please consider operators who are trying to house individuals who can't be on the street or in jail because the residents of these houses have very little income, and the operators can't afford to build houses for everyone," she said. "If a change is going to hurt somebody, we want to make sure it doesn't hurt the most vulnerable people in the community."

Councilwoman Carla Thompson asked law director Tony Geiger about the current rules in the city's code and advised members of the community to get involved by attending meetings like Councilman Derry Glenn's forum at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 2 and a lunch at 1 p.m. Sunday, May 5 at St. Rose Parish.

Reach Jacob Espinosa at 567-242-0399.