Springboro council holds public hearing on Easton Farm development plan, rezoning

Density continued to be the major issue raised by opponents to the Easton Farm development as residents packed the Springboro City Council meeting Thursday to participate in a public hearing.

Residents for and against the proposed Easton Farm development shared the comments and opinions during council’s public hearing for the recommended rezoning and preliminary plan for the 103 acres of the Easton Farm located off Ohio 741.

Due to the high interest and emotions concerning this proposed development, Mayor John Agenbroad extended the time limits for public comment during the hearing from 15 to 30 minutes each for proponents and opponents. In addition, 5 minutes for each side were provided for rebuttal.

City Planner Dan Boron gave an overview of the project and its journey through the preliminary approval process. At the Planning Commission’s June meeting unanimously recommended the rezoning from R-1 to PUD/Mixed Use as well as the preliminary PUD plan with conditions.

The project will include 519 residential units, down from 577 units; 22.89 acres of open space, up from 15.82 acres; a density of 5.83 dwelling units per acre; Maximum building height was reduced from four floors to three floors for the multi-family component; the multi-family parking structure was eliminated from the plan. The plan includes a variety of housing such as single-family homes, townhomes and multi-family apartments.

Other plan changes made by the Planning Commission includes no connection to Fox Trail Drive to Easton Farm; eliminating a number of uses in the commercial component such as hotels, gas stations, car washes, and stand-alone drive-throughs.

Developers Larry Dillin and Doug Borror Spoke in favor of their $265 million project.

Dillin said there had been a lot of presentations and a lot of clarifications that have been made since the project was first reviewed by the Planning Commission in March.

However, Dillin said the market analysis that has been done says that multi-family housing is needed to attract the higher quality of restaurants Springboro wants.

Borror also emphasized that market studies “have showed a strong demand for high-quality, upscale apartments.”

Borror said the apartments will be designed to attract young professionals and empty nesters who want to live in and enjoy the many amenities in the neighborhood. He said, “this will create a vibrancy and energy that attracts great high-end restaurants.’

He said 80% of the apartments will be one-bedroom and studios, and 20% will have two bedrooms. Borror said rents will be $1,300-plus a month. He said the amenities package for the apartments will include a “resort-style pool with cabanas; a state of the art workout room; a theater room with a giant screen; a business center; a coffee station; and a club room.

Borror said the multi-family apartments will have little to no impact on the schools. Depending on the size of the single-family home, the price could range from $500,000 to $800,000 to $1 million, he said.

“This will be something you can be proud of,” Borror said.

Resident Kristen Beireis said she and her husband have lived in Springboro for the past 10 years because of the “great sense of community.” She said the developer is using smart growth principles in developing Easton Farm.

Beireis said millennials and Generation Z are choosing multi-family over single-family homes. “The future is not 2,500 square-foot homes,” she said.

Resident David Vomacka also supported the development, calling the Easton Farm land “ripe for development.” He also said, “it would be unfortunate if council acquiesces to a small group trying to undermine a proposal.”

Opponent David Beckman questioned council if “this was the right choice.” He said residents who moved into the adjacent neighborhood expected the zoning to remain as R-1 residential. Beckman also said the city should be using net density rather than gross density to determine the development’s density rates and should develop responsibly. He also believed the traffic study was flawed in not incorporating traffic from Interstate 75 and Austin Boulevard.

“Thousands of people are afraid of losing the small-town feel,” he said.

Another resident, Bailey Rizk, said she was initially for the project, but had changed her mind because of the density. She said families prefer Springboro because of the small-town community feel.

“Young families look for places that are not the Greene, Dayton Mall or Austin Landing,” she said. “I don’t want to live in an ‘attraction.’ It seems yucky to me. ... This is the forever place (Springboro). I don’t think we need Easton Farm to make us great. We’re a small town community.”

Another resident suggested putting the question on the ballot for the community to vote.

Council is expected to hear a second reading of the ordinance at its Sept. 2 meeting where residents can make comments again. The third and final reading is expected to be heard by council at its Sept. 16 meeting where a final vote will be taken.

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