Monday, July 7, 2003

Housing proposal opposed

Residents ask trustees to vote down zoning plan

By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer

BATAVIA TOWNSHIP - Residents of the Meadow Green subdivision and its surrounding area have banded together to fight a development they say is too dense for its proposed location.

They are urging township Trustees James Bushman and Deborah Clepper to vote down a proposed zoning change from agricultural use to residential use that would allow developers of the proposed Twin Gates subdivision to build 203 houses on quarter-acre lots.

The subdivision would be spread across 99 acres surrounding Meadow Green and abutting Amelia Olive Branch and Judd roads.

Some people in this central Clermont County area also are calling for the resignation of the township's third trustee, Archie Wilson. They contend he has a conflict of interest because he's one of the owners of the Twin Gates property and stands to make millions if the zoning request is approved.

Wilson denies any wrongdoing and says he has every right to make as much money as he can by doing what he wants with his land. He says he has refrained from attending meetings in which this proposal is discussed and has no intention of influencing anyone within township government.

Residents, however, are unconvinced. More than 90 have signed a petition objecting to the Twin Gates plan.

Some say that Wilson, a first-term trustee, misled voters before the election about his plans for the land.

"He went door to door telling people that he wouldn't develop that land while he was in office," says Brian Crow. "He lied straight to my face."

New problems feared

Crow has lived for 23 years - all of his life - along Amelia Olive Branch. He owns a house across from the proposed development site.

Residents say the area's utilities are overburdened, and they worry that more people could lead to longer traffic jams, additional sewer problems, power outages and crowding in area schools.

Brian and Denise Owens say they moved to the area because of the larger lots and the pastoral views of forested areas and wildlife. Those views will be ruined by a development directly behind their subdivision, Brian Owens said.

Raymond and Adelaide Christman worried about a creek to the south of the proposed development.

"During storms that creek swells and the waters become very high and very fast," Adelaide Christman said.

The Christmans also said previous owners allowed DuPont to store lead-based paint on the land. But Eugene Hehemann, Wilson's development partner and co-owner of the land, said the site was cleaned up and the paint moved to Michigan for storage.

Green space promised

Developers say about 20 percent of the land will remain forested, with the remaining trees and greenery acting as buffers between the two subdivisions. They say sewer, traffic and other utility concerns will be taken care of.

Jim Watson, consulting engineer for Twin Gates, says that while the developers have yet to find a builder, the homes would go for a minimum $170,000.

Because the request has already been OK'd by the township's planning and zoning commissions, only one yes vote is needed from the board of trustees to set the development in motion, officials said. If both Bushman and Clepper deny the request, the developers could sue the township.

Wilson promises to sue if the trustees deny his zoning application.

Trustees will vote July 15.



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