Thursday, May 8, 2003

Complaints delay housing decision

By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HAMILTON TWP. - Complaints from angry residents and threats to sue the township prompted trustees to delay a decision Wednesday to rezone 216 acres for 648 houses and condominiums on U.S. 22/Ohio 3 near Morrow-Cozaddale Road.

About 20 residents, including the owner of Valley Vineyard Winery, told trustees they were concerned about storm water runoff, traffic and the squeeze that Villages of Classicway would cause to an already overflowing school district, as well as other public services.

"How many of you ... think these people care about your schools, your roads, your police department, your fire department? They don't care," Morrow-Cozaddale resident Gary Day said about Boulder Development Co.

He said he had moved to Hamilton Township three years ago to get away from the burgeoning development in Butler County's West Chester Township.

"They'll be gone and the property owners will have to pay for it. The people's backs are not going to support this," Day said.

Ken Brown, a neighbor on Morrow-Cozaddale, threatened to sue the township and the developer because a portion of the lots in Classicway that border his property are under a restrictive covenant that calls for construction of one house per lot. His wife, Elizabeth, told trustees that if they allow Boulder's request, she will attempt to pass a referendum to restrict the number of houses allowed on some residential lots.

Boulder's plan calls for three houses per acre, as well as 20 acres of commercial and retail development along U.S. 22/Ohio 3. The developer needs the zoning changed from rural residential - which would allow 735 homes, with prices ranging from $180,000 to $500,000 and no green space - to urban residential with a planned unit development to allow the mix of uses.

Warren County commissioners already have advised against rezoning, saying the project was too dense and that traffic generated by it would add to the growing congestion on U.S. 22/Ohio 3.

Trustee Becky Ehling continued Wednesday's public hearing until May 21 at 7:30 p.m. and instructed Boulder representative Rakesh Ram to try to resolve residents' concerns in the meantime.

Following the hearing, Ram said the complaints he heard Wednesday were nothing new. He said he had met with many of the residents in previous months and made a "hard effort" to iron out any problems.

His company has agreed to pay the school district an impact fee of $250 per home to help support costs for the impending increase in students because of Classicway.

Boulder already has agreed to buffer the neighboring Valley Vineyard with fencing and trees, restrict the use of certain fertilizers and chemicals in the subdivision that could kill off the grape crops, and notify prospective buyers about noise and smells from the farming operation.

"People's perceptions of a working farm isn't exactly what they think it is," Vineyard owner Ken Schuchter told trustees. He said his farming routine includes regular spraying of herbicides and other chemicals, blasting a cannon to scare off birds, and setting traps to protect his grape crop.

He wanted assurances that Classicway residents would be warned to stay off his property.

"It concerns me that some child or animal will come on my property and get caught in a trap," Schuchter said.

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