Thursday, December 07, 2000

Deerfield Twp. gives in; apartments to go up




By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        DEERFIELD TOWNSHIP — After 18 months of court battles, a 516-unit apartment development on Bethany Road has been OK'd.

        Township trustees Tuesday, by a 2-1 vote, reluctantly approved the 103-acre project proposed by Hill Communities Inc. of Silverton. Township officials had rejected the proposal on two occasions.

        “We were facing a no-win situation,” said Trustee Larry Backus, who cast the dissenting vote. “We fought it as long as we could, but we were eventually going to lose in litigation.”

        Hill Communities filed a lawsuit in Warren County Common Pleas Court against trustees in June 1999, claiming they denied the landowners the constitutional right to make a living.

        Trustees feared the development would not conform with nearby housing and would add more students to an already crowded Mason City School District. The three-man panel also did not want to add to Deerfield's already high concentration of apartment complexes.

        Since 1990, Deerfield's population has grown from 15,060 to 19,757 residents.

        “It was a tough, tough decision, but I just couldn't go along with it,” Mr. Backus said. “The developer is a good developer, but personally I don't think this development is right for that area.”

        Trustees Chairman Bill Morand said the board was able to get the developer to reduce the number of units from 764 to 516. He said trustees also persuaded the developer to kill plans for a 10-acre shopping center on the parcel.

        “I'm very happy with the resolution even though it may not be the preferred development for that piece of property,” Mr. Morand said.

        “We were able to successfully limit the density to an acceptable level and establish a higher standard for landscaping to assure that it is a development that is appropriate for that area.”

        Township Zoning Administrator Tim Hershner said he anticipates Hill Communities could break ground next spring.

        In other business:

        Trustees unanimously voted to give $20,000 to the Warren County Drug Task Force for the expansion of its operations.

        Task force officials have called for each community in Warren County to contribute $1 per resident to help hire three agents and a secretary and lease an office.

        The task force now has no full-time officers and relies on the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation to provide undercover work, task force Director John Burke said.

        County commissioners have said they will match any new money raised by the drug-busting unit. The fund-raising proposal has the potential to generate as much as $226,000.

       



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