Next decision on proposed Easton Farm development could come next week

An ad hoc committee meeting scheduled for Thursday to discuss the proposed $265 million Easton Farm development in Springboro was cancelled after the developer declined to attend after he said there was uncertainty of who spoke for the residents opposing the project.

Springboro City Council on Sept. 16 tabled rezoning of the proposed 103-acre mixed-use development and its preliminary development plan. Council members asked the city manager to create the ad hoc committee to look at a proposed alternative plan submitted by David Beckman, a Deer Trail Drive resident and a member of Springboro Residents United who oppose the density at the Easton Farm development.

“We agreed to the committee based on the ability to come to a conclusion and agreement from the opposition,” Developer Larry Dillin said. “It has been clearly expressed to us that the opposition is not represented in its entirety, and so there is no ability to reach an agreement and conclusions effectively or completely.”

Dillin said, “We have always been willing to meet with citizens and listen to suggestions, but in this case, we are not meeting to hear ideas that represent the whole, and we are not able to meet with leadership that can make decisions and move forward on behalf of those opposing the project. It became clear to the city that Mr. Beckman does not represent all of the opponents, nor is his sketch a comprehensive and cohesive action plan.”

The proposed plan currently on the table is to rezone the 103.3 acres along Ohio 741 to allow the construction of 299 single-family homes and townhouses; a 113-unit assisted living facility; and retail, office and commercial space. The proposed plan has changed several times, with input from residents throughout the process, including the removal of multi-family housing.

Springboro City Manager Chris Pozzuto said council will discuss the Easton Farm issue on Oct. 7. Council will have the option of approving the rezoning and plan, approving with modifications or rejecting the proposal. City code requires council to vote on the Planning Commission recommendation within 120 days of the first public hearing.

Dillin said the Easton Farm Master Plan was created “with a careful balance of the city’s guidance, direct input from planning commission and city council, and careful analysis of market studies, traffic studies and financial analysis. The sketch recently presented (by Beckman) does not consider any of that critically important information. We can not risk undermining the character and quality of this special neighborhood to an arbitrary sketch.”

Dillin said. “We believe the city should evaluate the merits of the plan we submitted and that was recommended by city staff and approved unanimously by planning commission. They carefully studied our plan against the land use plan and approved it 7-0. We stand by our effort and believe it will be a landmark development for the city.”

When asked for comment on the meeting cancellation, Beckman said, “It is unfortunate the developer has declined to attend the committee meeting as we were looking forward to finding a real compromise that could unite the community. However, it appears the seller/developer are not willing to discuss a compromise. The city indicated the developer intends to proceed with the latest plan which residents will continue to oppose.

“We are not against development and have shown city council that there are better ways to approach this development that maintains the welfare of existing residents and the character of the city and existing zoning,” Beckman said.

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