Tuesday, March 27, 2001

Deerfield group battling Mason construction plan

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — About 25 Deerfield Township residents demonstrated in front of City Hall on Monday, opposing a 175-foot water tower city leaders plan to build next to their homes.

        The demonstrators, most of whom live in the Hampton Village subdivision, began picketing about 9 a.m. along Main Street, and continued until City Council's 7 p.m. meeting.

        Hampton Village is a community of nearly 100 homes, ranging in price from $200,000 to $500,000.

        Lisa Renners, a resident of Hampton Village, said the tower will ruin property values and aesthetics in her neighborhood. She called the protest a last-ditch effort to appeal to Mason leaders' sensibilities.

        “We are hoping we can shame Mason into not building the tower next to our homes,” Ms. Renners said. “The water won't serve us, so we don't think it should be invading our skyline.”

        Mason officials plan to build the $2.5 million water tower on six acres along Mason Road — less than 400 yards from Ms. Renners' home. City officials said last week that they wanted to work directly with neighboring residents on ways to minimize the project's effect on their property.

        City Manager Scot Lahrmer, who recently met with a small group of township residents, said the protest isn't likely to change city leaders' minds. In fact, he said, picketing the city building may only alienate Mason residents who are going to benefit from the improved services the tower will provide.

        “They certainly have a right to mobilize and protest, just as we have a right to build our water tower,” Mr. Lahrmer said Monday. “I think they've taken their fight to the wrong forum.”

        However, some passers-by expressed support for the protesters' cause by honking their horns as they drove past. Others gave a simple thumbs up.

        “I think we are reaching a lot of people,” Ms. Renners said. “The more people we can get on our side, the better our chances are of stopping this thing.”

        Elizabeth Walker, one of the demonstration's organizers, noted that deed restrictions limit the land's use, as do the township's height limitations in that area. She added Mason's goodwill efforts to soften the effects of the tower are questionable.

        “Asking the residents of Hampton Village to choose the paint color for the tower does not constitute considering the needs of the local affected residents,” Ms. Walker said.

        Candy Schaefer, an 18-month township resident, said talk of the water tower is having a ripple effect on the subdivision.

        “A (home) builder just told me the other day that he's sold the house next to mine twice, but both times the buyer backed out after they found out about the water tower,” she said.


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