Yellow Springs, Ohio, a small town with a population of under 4,000, boasts a thriving arts community that belies its size, and has been home to a number of notable people including Coretta Scott King, John Lithgow and Dave Chappelle. This week, Chappelle thwarted the progression of an affordable housing development in the village, as first reported by Dayton Daily News.

In July 2021, it was announced that Oberer Homes, a Miamisburg, Ohio-based development company, was planning to build roughly 140 new homes on 53 acres along the village’s southernmost edge, due to Yellow Springs’ housing stock becoming increasingly scarce over the last several years. At the time, this proposal received some pushback; residents wrote to the planning commission in opposition to rezoning the area to include duplexes and townhomes, in addition to the single-family housing for which it is already demarcated.

At a council meeting Monday, Feb. 7, Chappelle said, “I cannot believe you would make me audition for you. You look like clowns. I am not bluffing, I will take it all off the table.” His threat was with regard to his local business ventures that are in the works: Firehouse Eatery restaurant and a comedy club called Live From YS. The actor and comedian’s company, Iron Table Holdings LLC, purchased the former Miami Township fire station in December 2021.

“In my opinion, the developer and council president were in a hurry to get it approved at the expense of getting it right,” Max Crome, a development advisor for Iron Table Holdings, said. “In the rush for approval, they limited their outreach and failed to engage the community-at-large in the input process. … This ‘NO’ vote puts a pause on the development so that any revised proposal would be properly vetted and, ideally, any new affordable housing component doesn’t come at the expense of selling out our values for a sprawl-style development.” 

According to Rolling Stone, Chappelle stated he was “adamantly opposed” to the project at a council meeting in December 2021, saying: “I’ve invested millions of dollars in town. If you push this thing through, what I’m investing in is no longer applicable. I would say that Oberer can buy all of this property from me if they want to be your benefactor because I will no longer want to.”

Chappelle reportedly lives in close proximity to the location of this future development, and is not alone in lobbying against the project; other residents also expressed concerns about traffic flow, water management and the proposed homeowner’s association.

“Without question, Dave Chappelle cares about Yellow Springs. He’s sewn into the fabric of the Village,” Carla Sims, spokesperson for Dave Chappelle, told The Hollywood Reporter. “Neither Dave nor his neighbors are against affordable housing, however, they are against the poorly vetted, cookie-cutter, sprawl-style development deal which has little regard for the community, culture and infrastructure of the Village.” 

The village council ultimately “voted 2-2 with one abstention on the revised ‘planned unit development’ zoning,” according to Dayton Daily News, which is an undoing of the village’s original plan to include affordable housing in the development (which would have existed on 1.75 acres of donated land). Now, the lot’s zoning will only allow for 143 single-family homes, which will begin at approximately $300,000 and reach upward of $600,000. They will be reportedly ready for homeowners to move in as soon as 2023.

“The whole development deal, cloaked as an affordable housing plan, is anything but affordable. Three out of 143 lots would have been for ‘future’ affordable housing,” Carla Sims said, describing the plan as “an accelerant on the homogenization of Yellow Springs.”

Feb. 10, 10:08 am: Updated with a response from Chappelle’s spokesperson. 

Feb. 10, 5:28 pm: Updated with a response from Iron Table Holdings LLC’s development advisor. 

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