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Warren County considers development plan outside Waynesville

Warren County plans to schedule a hearing in August as part of a process expected to enable a residential development just outside Waynesville.

This morning, the county commissioners agreed to schedule a public hearing to map a sewer district encompassing the villages of Waynesville, Harvesyburg, Corwin and parts of Wayne Twp., including 42 acres where 40 homes are proposed along Waynesville’s boundary with the township.

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Complicating the plan is a shortage of available tap-ins to the sewage treatment plant Warren County has taken over from Waynesville.

On Thursday, Wayne Twp. is to consider rezoning the proposed residential subdivision on 42 acres off Ferry Road at 5615 Lytle Road in Wayne Twp.

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The Wayne Township Zoning Commission is to open the public hearing at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Wayne Twp. Administration Building, 6050 N. Clarksville Road, east of Waynesville.

Developer John Federle has proposed a plan “permissive of more dense single-family residential development than otherwise permitted,” according to a notice on the township website.

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The plan - already reviewed by the Warren County Regional Planning Commission Executive Committee - involves 40.1-acre and a 3.4 acre parcels off Ferry Road, according to a staff memo to the county committee.

The smaller parcel is to be split-zoned, with a portion accommodating an existing residence. Overall, the proposal is to rezone a combination of approximately 42 acres to develop the site into a 40-unit single-family residential subdivision, according to the memo.

This morning, Wayne Twp. Administrator Gus Edwards retracted an earlier statement in favor of the development, noting he could not endorse the proposed rezoning, while it is still subject to approval by the trustees.

However, Edwards said the rezoning would enable the township to benefit from growth in this area of Warren County and “thwart off annexation.”

“We want to have the ability to grow too,” Edwards said during the meeting at the county administration building in Lebanon.

After the meeting, Waynesville Mayor Dave Stubbs said the village was not inclined to annex beyond existing limits, including the Federle property to be served with sewers by Warren County.

Federle said it was his third such development in the Waynesville area and asked the commissioners to grant him sewer access during the meeting.

Commissioner Dave Young said the commissioners were unable to take this step immediately and stopped Federle from answering Commissioner Tom Grossmann’s question about whether Federle would otherwise annex into Waynesville.

RELATED: Warren County, Waynesville in court over water bill

Warren County and Waynesville have been at odds for years over water and sewer issues.

During the same meeting, County Sanitation Engineer Chris Brausch asked the commissioners to approve $6 million in improvements to patch up and update the plant and system taken over from Waynesville 18 months ago.

“It requires some significant investments,” Brausch said. “We knew it was going to be a fixer-upper.”

The plant currently operates at 83 percent of capacity - 7 percent shy of a level Brausch said could trigger a warning from the Ohio EPA.

RELATED: Warren County to spend $62 million on water softening expansion

The remaining capacity - and more - has been committed to other residential developments, including one through a lawsuit settlement the county learned of as it was about to take over the plant, Assistant County Prosecutor Bruce McGary told the commissioners.

The August hearing is required to establish the sewer improvement area, according to McGary.

“We’ve never done that,” McGary said.

Edwards said a Wayne-Massie Sewer District already exists.

“We just need to map it,” McGary responded.

A total of 1,100 lots in the area are ready for development, including 220 adjacent to the Ohio Renaissance Festival property and unbuilt lots in the Furnas Forge subdivision, officials said.

After Thursday’s hearing in Wayne Twp., the trustees are expected to rezone the land, possibly as early as on July 17, starting the clock on a 30-day waiting period before it takes effect.

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