Thursday, March 15, 2001

Neighbors say meeting about tower just show

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        DEERFIELD TWP. — Jon Niemeyer says he doesn't have anything against water towers. He just doesn't want one in his back yard.

        “Water towers are usually built along interstates or industrial areas,” he said. “They aren't meant to go in residential areas next to people's homes.”

   Tonight's special meeting of the Deerfield Township Board of Zoning Appeals has been canceled.
    The city of Mason has withdrawn its application for a variance and a conditional-use permit to build a water tower on Mason Road. The city has instead received permits from the Warren County Building and Zoning Department, which will enable it to proceed with the project.
    The next scheduled meeting of the zoning board is April 12.
        Mr. Niemeyer, 33, is one of several residents from a township neighborhood unhappy about the looming prospect of a water tower Mason city leaders plan to build. He is also one of three residents who met for two hours Tuesday with Mason's city manager to discuss ways to lessen the tower's impact on homeowners.

        “I felt like everything we said to (Mason officials) fell on deaf ears,” Mr. Niemeyer said. “They listened to us. They smiled. They even said they understood our feelings. But ultimately they said the tower was going up anyway.”

        Mason officials plan to build the $2.5 million water tower on six acres along Mason Road — less than 200 yards from the Niemeyers' two-story home. City officials said earlier this week that they wanted to work directly with neighboring residents on ways to minimize the project's effect on their property.

        But Mr. Niemeyer said the only way to lessen the impact on his home and others in the Hampton Village subdivision would be to build the tower elsewhere.

        “We were talking about building a different structure that's not so tall or relocating the tower to another area, and (Mason) was talking about tiny cosmetic changes like painting the tower a different color or planting trees at its base,” he said. “When you're talking about a 175-foot water tower, 20- and 30-foot trees aren't gonna really make that big of a difference.”

        Assistant City Manager Eric Hansen said the city remains committed to listening to residents' concerns. However, he said, Mason's meetings with township residents were never intended to be discussions of where the tower should be located.

        “We are moving forward to build the tower, but we want to be a good neighbor,” Mr. Hansen said. “Landscaping won't make the tower go away, but it certainly can be used to make it more attractive.”

        Mr. Hansen said the city is trying to find a balance between the responsibility it has to provide water service to its residents and the opportunity it has to extend goodwill to its township neighbors.

        However, Mr. Niemeyer said he feels that Mason held Tuesday's meeting solely for public relations and not to bring about any real changes in the project. He said that if more meetings are to follow, he won't be a part of them.

        “I can't help but feel like they were humoring us,” he said. “I'm just very frustrated.”


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