Springboro council rejects $265M Easton Farm development plan

SPRINGBORO —The developer of a proposed $265 million housing and commercial project in Springboro said he will continue to work on proposals for the development after city council rejected rezoning of the property.

Council voted 6-0 Thursday night to reject the recommendation from the city planning commission to approve the rezoning of the 103-acre property that would have allowed the construction of 299 single-family homes and townhouses; a 113-unit assisted living facility; and retail, office and commercial space.

Vice Mayor Janie Ridd recused herself due to a possible conflict of interest because her home is near the proposed project.

Developer Larry Dillin said he will not give up and that he will work on a new plan for the Easton Farm property along Ohio 741.

“We are disappointed by the council’s decision today to not approve the amended plan after numerous discussions and compromises with council and residents to arrive at a concept that would satisfy everyone’s wishes for Easton Farm’s future,” Dillin said.

“The sun is going to come up tomorrow and we will still be working on Easton Farm,” he said.

Becky Hall, who owns the 103-acre property off Ohio 741, declined to comment on the decision.

Unlike previous meetings over the past few months that packed the council chamber with supporters and opponents, there were about two dozen people in attendance for the vote.

Before the vote, Mayor John Agenbroad said, “it was unfortunate that the city is so divided and this is the hardest vote I’ve had to make.” A 26-year veteran of council, Agenbroad said council has to do what’s best for Springboro.

“The community has to come first, in my opinion,” he said.

Councilman Steve Harding, a member of the Planning Commission, voted against the rezoning and preliminary plan, saying it wasn’t the best plan for the city.

The proposed plan changed several times since it was introduced in late March, with input from residents throughout the process, including the removal of multi-family housing and a garage.

The council Thursday night had the option to approve, approve with modifications, reject, or table the legislation — as it had at its Sept. 16 meeting. City code required council to vote on the Planning Commission recommendation within 120 days of the first public hearing that was held in August.

Councilwoman Becky Iverson, who chairs the Planning Commission, said the amended plan “is something I don’t recognize” as she cast her no vote for the rezoning.

Some residents have said the planned Easton Farm development would be good for the city. Others who oppose the project said they are concerned with added traffic, increased density and the amount of housing and commercial planned.

Resident Doug Weideman, who opposed the project, told council that no one he had spoken to was against development for commercial use.

“Density was the issue and we didn’t want to see everyone crammed into it,” Weideman said.

David Beckman, a member of Springboro Residents United who oppose the density at the Easton Farm Development, said Thursday night that he was “happy council made this choice in favor of the residents.”

Agenbroad last month suggested an ad hoc working group be created and led by City Manager Chris Pozzuto that would consist of city staff, the developer and property owner, two members of Springboro Residents United who oppose the development, and several residents representing the city’s wards. The committee was tasked to review a proposed alternative plan submitted by Beckman, a Deer Trail Drive resident.

That ad hoc meeting was canceled last week after Dillin declined to attend citing the opposition was not represented in its entirety and that there was no ability to reach an agreement and conclusions effectively or completely. The meeting cancellation has drawn the ire of opposing residents on social media.

This is not the first time plans for a development on the property have been presented to the city. In 2008 and 2017, plans to develop the same land were brought forward by other developers, but either were rejected by the city or dropped.

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