Giant new Springfield subdivision gets city approval, criticism from some residents

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

A new proposed subdivision that will include 220 new single-family homes on 100 acres at the intersection of Leffel Lane and south Burnett Road has received city approval.

Like many other recently launched local housing developments, the planned Sycamore Ridge subdivision will be offered Tax Increment Financing (TIF), which has stirred controversy, including comments from those attending a Springfield City Commission meeting last week.

The project had been in discussion two years ago, said City Manager Bryan Heck. Legal issues slowed progress on the project, which involves land formerly owned by the Capelli family. Several individuals were involved in a partnership owning portions of the land, which prompted the legal delay. Those issues have now been resolved, allowing the project to move forward.

The property has already been annexed to the city from Sprngfield Twp., along with additional acreage located across the street. As of now, construction is planned only for the one side of the property. There are currently no building plans announced for the acreage on the north side of the intersection.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Heck confirms that DDC Management, the company responsible for the Bridgewater community, is also involved in the planned Sycamore Ridge Project I LLC. The builder associated with Sycamore Ridge is identified as D.R. Horton - Indiana LLC, reportedly one of the largest residential developers in the country. They had also been involved in plans related to a development on Tuttle Road that did not come to fruition.

Heck indicated that plans call for Sycamore Ridge to offer single family homes in the upper $200,000 to low $300,000 price range.

The city will again extend TIF financing to encourage the housing development, a tool created by state officials to encourage and subsidize development in Ohio. Under the TIF agreement, a percentage of property taxes is deferred into a separate fund that is applied to reimbursing costs associated with public project developments. As a result, property taxes received by local government entities is reduced for a specified period.

Many of the new housing developments are located in Springfield Twp. and both Springfield Twp. trustees and Clark-Shawnee Local Schools have expressed opposition to TIF funding for the impact it is having on the community.

Several residents criticized the use of TIF funding for the new Sycamore development at the City Commission meeting.

“One thing I don’t think is being considered is the impact that’s going to be to Shawnee High School,” area resident Mark Sanders told commissioners. “You’re going to have hundreds more students and they get zero more dollars…you need to think about this too.”

Assistant Mayor David Estrop assured Sanders that “negotiations are already underway between the developer and Shawnee School District. I assume the school district is going to take advantage of some of the benefits the developer is going to offer them, and some of the cash.”

Mayor Rob Rue also addressed the concerns, saying the city has discussed the school funding issue and is sympathetic, but noted that “the state hasn’t set up the school system funding in tandem with development for any community in Ohio… It is a problem not just for us, but for others.”

Over the past few years, multiple housing developments including Bridgewater, Melody Parks and now Sycamore Ridge have launched construction in the Clark Shawnee School District. School and township officials maintain local resources, and especially schools, are strained with the additions while the township receives no added tax benefit.

City officials have countered that the addition of affordable housing to the area is critical for growth and that schools and townships benefit from an expanded base for income taxes, business development and job creation that come with it.

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