Neighbors upset, but plan for 135 new homes in Fairborn moves forward

Landowner says he’s doing what his late grandfather, a developer, would have wanted

FAIRBORN — A proposal to build up to 135 new upscale homes on 40 acres is a move that a Fairborn landowner said helps keep his family’s legacy, but neighbors don’t agree.

The plan is moving forward after a change involving Armstrong Road property east of Interstate 675 that previously has been designated for conservation.

The proposal by Oakes Tree Development near Centerville has the blessing of the property owner and several Fairborn administrators, but more than a dozen area residents oppose the move.

Council approved changing the zoning for the land from conservation development to planned unit development and OK’d a preliminary plan for the housing proposal.

Third-generation landowner Jason Sutton said his family, after more than 50 years, “has decided to sell the property for development, as my grandfather would want,” Fairborn records show.

Arthur Roehner’s business built Rona Hills and other housing developments, Sutton said of his grandfather in a letter endorsing the plan.

“He believed in building good homes for good people,” Sutton wrote in an Aug. 9 letter to the city. “His memorial plaque at the entrance of Rona Hills reads ‘Friend, neighbor and developer.’ Staying true to his legacy, I believe Mr. (Lance) Oakes has the same values. That is why I back this project 100%, and so does my family.”

Oakes said the homes would have an average price of about $450,000 in today’s market.

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Council’s 6-1 vote last week included 16 conditions and followed unanimous approval by the city’s planning board, records show.

The development is proposed in three sections, Fairborn officials said. Planning board and council approval is required before building plans can be submitted for each section, according to the city.

Fairborn’s fire chief, police chief, utilities superintendent and city engineer all said the area could support the plan, which would include five streets, records show.

But residents, many of them living on nearby Cliffside Drive, have objected to the change, citing reasons ranging from increased traffic and crime, loss of farmland, and concern for stormwater, utilities, wildlife and air quality.

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“If you allow this piece of property to be changed so that a housing development can be put in there, it will drastically change our neighborhood,” said Cliffside resident Jan Williams. “We’re going to lose the beautiful agrarian scenery that we so love looking at.

“Then for the next five or so years we’re going to have to put up with the dirt, dust … and the noises of construction that will be going on,” she added. “I’m asking you please, do not allow this piece of land to be rezoned” for housing.

Alan Carney of East Xenia Drive agreed, saying “this is an important issue to vote no to rezoning this.

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“If you’re going to allow some developer to come in here and change our zoning plans, then we better think of where we’re going,” he said.

Residents’ concerns “are very valid and well taken,” Oakes said. “And I think we’ve tried to address a lot of those concerns over the course of this process.”

Plans include widening the road into the development and providing a buffer for the nearby subdivision, Oakes said.

His company “will work very closely with our contractors and the city” if the development is approved and strive to “minimize the impact to the residents as much as possible.”

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