Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014
By Kathy Thompson
Rockford housing planned
Village buying land for 20-acre subdivision
  ROCKFORD - Village officials are on a mission to increase the town's population.
Council members Tuesday night approved the purchase of 20 acres of land on the west side of the village for the development of a residential subdivision for 40 to 60 new homes.
Village councilors spent about 24 minutes in executive session before voting to purchase the land on West Market Street. A purchase price has not yet been set.
"Our goal is to bring people to Rockford," village administrator Jeff Long said, noting the town currently has 1,120 residents.
This is the first time village officials have undertaken a housing development, he said.
"This is not going to happen overnight and we know that it could take several years to develop," Long said. "We're not out to make money. We're out to give people a nice affordable place to live. We're very excited and think this is a great deal."
A lack of available land for development has prevented people from moving to the area, he said.  
The land to be purchased is owned by Tom Rogers and currently is being farmed. Long said Rogers is financing the sale at no interest and will buy back any property that doesn't sell.
Mayor Amy Joseph said council will need to vote on a formal resolution as the process moves forward.
"This is something the village needs," she said.
Plans call for 40 to 60 lots of about a half-acre each, Long said. The village will install the infrastructure and sell the lots to individuals, who must hire a contractor to build the homes, he explained.
Heather Park, also to the west of the village, was the last subdivision developed in town, Long said. Its 12 homes were built in the early 1900s, he said.
Parkway Local Schools Superintendent Greg Puthoff said he supports the project and believes an influx of students would benefit the district. The school currently has an enrollment of 1,150 students from Rockford, Mendon and Willshire. Puthoff said its facilities are designed to hold about 1,300 students.
The district's largest classes consist of 85 students in the first- and second-grades, Puthoff said. The smallest class is eighth-grade with 69 students.
"We know those students coming into the school wouldn't all be going to the same grade, so we can handle any new ones coming in," he said.
Tammy Cheek, a real estate agent with Jim Shaffer Realty, said this year she has been getting requests for homes in the area.
"More so than in the past," she said. "It seems that people who have moved away want to come back and those that live here want to downsize. So, there is a higher demand for a home, just no place to build one."
In other business, James Lee of the Ohio Public Utilities Commission told councilors a new website is available for consumers who have questions about utility companies or want to compare various companies' prices. The website for Energy Choice Ohio is www.energychoice.ohio.gov; consumers also can call 800-686-7826.
"We all have energy choices," Lee said. "This website gives the consumer an opportunity to compare 'apples to apples.' You can upload the offers you get and get a comparison of how each rates with the other."
The website serves as a hub for any questions consumers have about their utilities, Lee added.
He cautioned consumers not to give personal information to solicitors who come to their doors.
"We've had some complaints that some salespeople are becoming a little aggressive," Lee said. "We don't want (consumers) to be intimidated. All they have to do is call us."
Council members said some solicitors had visited the village, but no complaints were filed.
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