Saturday, August 30, 2003

Symmes group drops petition

Flood site will be developed

By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

SYMMES TWP. - A group of residents said Friday they're dropping a campaign to block a 50-home, high-end development along Polk Run Creek, the site of deadly flooding two years ago.

They did so after developer Steve Zerhusen said that attempts to block a zoning change for the Hearthstone Estates subdivision off McKinney Road might cause him to revert to the original residential zoning. That would mean even more homes.

Fed up with flooding and erosion from Polk Run Creek, a group of residents had already collected 300 of 480 petition signatures needed to place an issue on the ballot asking voters to reject the change that allowed construction of 36 single-family residences and 14 cluster homes on the 36-acre site across from Arnold Lane.

"I don't think anybody wants to run the risk of giving him an opportunity to just revert back ... which is far worse than what we had in the first place," said Jim Murphy, who was helping lead the charge for Concerned Citizens of Polk Run Watershed.

The group had planned to file the petitions by Sept. 4.

Zerhusen said that if he reverted to the original residential zoning, he would have to eliminate the cluster homes and build between 50 and 60 single-family residences instead.

The Symmes Township resident said he's done all he can to address the residents' concerns and still keep the development profitable. "I told them straight out the property was going be developed. It was just a matter of who and when and how it's going to be done," he said.

Residents have demanded strict controls along the creek, where flooding during July 2001 caused more than $10 million in damage across Greater Cincinnati and killed a teen in Loveland, about a mile from the proposed Hearthstone site.

At the same time, the Army Corps of Engineers is immersed in a study of the creek - which runs through Montgomery, Deerfield, Symmes and Sycamore townships - to determine the scope of the problem and what, if anything, will be done about it.


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