Dave Chappelle helps force Ohio village to ditch affordable housing plan with public meeting threat

The comedian has argued it would affect his business holdings in the town of Yellow Springs

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Thursday 10 February 2022 04:08 GMT
Dave Chappelle threatens to withdraw fortune from Ohio town over housing development

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The village of Yellow Springs, Ohio, voted down its own planned affordable housing development, after residents including famed comedian Dave Chappelle voiced strong opposition to the plan.

The 2-2 vote scuttled plans for a housing development from Oberer Homes, which would include 64 single-family homes, 52 duplexes, 24 townhomes, and the donation of a 1.75 acre plot to the community on which to eventually build affordable housing.

Instead, the developer will move forward with its previous plan to build 143 single-family homes on the property, despite the town council negotiating for more than a year with the company to secure an affordable housing carveout.

During a public meeting about the vote on Tuesday, Mr Chappelle, who has a Netflix comedy deal with more than $120m, threatened to withdraw his substantial business interests from the town of under 4,000 if the affordable housing plan went through.

“I am not bluffing,” he said. “I will take it all off the table.”

Dave Chapelle
Dave Chapelle (Getty)

The comedian, who has plans to build a restaurant and a comedy club in Yellow Springs, voiced his opposition at another meeting last year.

“Obviously I live behind the development, or the proposed development. I do have many business interests in town,” he said. “I’ve invested millions of dollars in town. If you push this thing through, what I’m investing in is no longer applicable. And Oberer can come and buy all this property from me if they want to be your benefactor, because I will no longer…” he said, before the audio cut out of his video conferencing call cut out.

Town council member Marianne MacQueen said she supported the project and Oberer’s plans to be “good neighbours” by seeking a portion of affordable housing.

“I have asked, what is it in their business interest that this development is going to hurt? And in the interest of transparency I would like to know,” she said.

Other residents have voiced concerns about the project including its impact on traffic, the quality of the homes under construction, and a perceived lack of community involvement in the negotiation process around affordable housing.

Some felt the town council made its decision largely based on the comedian’s threats.

 “The elephant in the room is it seems nobody wants to discuss the opinion or influence of Mr Chappelle,” another resident told VICE. “I recall him mentioning if we were to move forward on this project, he would pull out his holdings in the village.”

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