Saturday, February 27, 1999

Zoning clears way for condos

Citizens could block decision

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MONROE — The city's first condominium development has moved a step closer to being a reality, but there is still some question about whether the controversial project may be blocked.

        Its ultimate fate may hang in the balance for another month.

        City council voted unani mously this week to approve rezoning the 54.9-acre site off Ohio 63 from single-family to multifamily residential with a planned unit development (PUD).

        That clears a major hurdle for the project proposed by Norwood developer Joe Farruggia, who wants to build Villas of Heritage Green, a 180-unit condominium development for “empty-nesters” with prices starting at about $90,000.

        But that vote is not the final word. The rezoning does not go into effect for 30 days, during which time opponents could file a referendum petition to get the issue on the ballot in an effort to overturn council's decision, said Jay Stewart, assistant city manager.

        In 1996, after council approved rezoning the land from agricultural to single-family, a citizens group got the decision overturned through a referendum vote. In May 1997, council again approved the single-family zoning, but Mr. Farruggia said he had trouble marketing the lots to builders.

        Kathy Moore, who was in volved with the previous referendum effort, declined to comment Wednesday.

        But Mr. Farruggia said he is optimistic he will be able to proceed with infrastructure work by late spring and begin construction in June.

        The development will be first-class, Mr. Farruggia said, with homes from 1,300 to 2,600 square feet, he said.

        The gated community will also include a clubhouse, a walking path winding throughout the property including the wooded area, a lake with a fountain, shuffleboard, garden sites for residents, and picnic and children's play areas.

        No one spoke against the proposal during the council meeting Tuesday, but some farmers voiced concerns about water runoff during a previous public hearing.

        Mr. Farruggia said those concerns will be addressed by his and city engineers and by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency before work begins.

        “Now we're having nothing but positive response,” Mr. Farruggia said, adding that even previous opponents are now supportive. “Everyone we've talked to is for this development, and they're excited about it. We are, too.”

        Mr. Stewart said the city has worked hard to attract this type of development to fill a void in housing options in Monroe.

        “We hope there's no referendum filed, because we believe in the project,” Mr. Stewart said. The next step will be presenting construction drawings to the planning commission, likely in April, he said.


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- Zoning clears way for condos