Thursday, January 9, 2003

New Richmond residents will settle property dispute at the polls

By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer

NEW RICHMOND - Residents of this southwestern Clermont County community near the Ohio River have won the right to decide how 56 acres of prime property along Bethel-New Richmond Road can be developed.

On Monday, Common Pleas Judge Robert Ringland invalidated the emergency clause of an ordinance village leaders approved in August that rezoned the land to allow construction of 155 "high-quality" homes by Grand Communities Ltd. of Crestview Hills, Ky.

The judge said the issue should be placed on the Nov. 4 ballot.

New Richmond Village Solicitor George Leicht said Tuesday it was too soon to say whether village leaders would appeal the ruling.

A group of residents, led by Ray Perszyk, who lives across the street from the disputed site, objected to the emergency classification of the ordinance, which put the order into effect immediately. They said the classification prevented residents from exercising their rights to consider the proposal.

They also argued the land is already zoned residential and can adequately support 90 homes. The emergency ordinance rezoned the project to support a proposal of 155 homes, decreasing projected lot sizes.

Village leaders argued that development of this forested, unoccupied site would bring revenue to the village, which hasn't fully recovered from the 1997 Ohio River flood. The land is owned by two families from Massachusetts and Wisconsin.

Village leaders said building that many houses would help recover population and would boost New Richmond's dwindling tax base.

Mr. Perszyk, though, said residents never opposed development. Rather, they objected to the amount of houses developers sought to build. Such a plan, he said, could lead to drainage, density and traffic problems.


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