Springboro City Council tabled an ordinance Thursday to approve the rezoning and preliminary plan for the proposed $265 million Easton Farm development on Ohio 741 in the center of the city.
During the council’s work session prior to its regular meeting, Mayor John Agenbroad suggested council table the ordinances that would have approved the rezoning of the 103.3 acres to allow the construction of 299 single-family homes and townhouses; a 113-unit assisted living facility; and retail, office and commercial space.
Council had the option to approve, approve with modifications, reject, or table. City code requires council to vote on the Planning Commission recommendation within 120 days of the first public hearing.
City Manager Chris Pozzuto said the city received an alternative plan for consideration in the past few days which he said “had some merit.” Pozzuto said it was refreshing to see someone propose a plan and not just say “no, no, no.”
Council suggested that Pozzuto create an ad hoc committee to look at this alternative plan that would include David Beckman, a resident who opposes the current plan and submitted the alternative plan; Larry Dillin, Easton Farm developer; the Hall family who owns the property; Mayor John Agenbroad; and other residents who support and oppose the proposal.
“This is a guide,” Beckman said. “I am not claiming to speak for whole community opposed to the current plan but this alternative plan attempts to incorporate and address many community concerns while compromising from the current R-1 zoning.”
The plan would keep single-family homes in an R-1 residential zoning; transitioning to an R-2 residential zoning; placing townhomes adjacent to the commercial area fronting Ohio 741 and would not be three-story buildings. Beckman’s proposal would also feature a 17-acre park in the middle of the development.
Beckman, who is part of the Springboro Residents United group that opposes the proposed Easton Farm development, said he does not speak for everyone in the residents group representing neighboring residents and other residents across the city. He submitted the an alternative plan to city officials this week.
“I’m happy to work with the city and developer as we are hoping for a compromise,” Beckman said. “It was a surprise to me that council tabled the ordinance. I expected a vote tonight.”
When asked what next steps the residents group would take, Beckman said they have discussed a possible referendum or recalling council members. He also confirmed that Springboro Residents United is now a registered political action committee.
Dillin told council there has been a lot of passionate conversation and he has met with many residents. He said he has listened to the Planning Commission and to council resulting in numerous changes to the original plan as well as reducing the density.
He said they have followed the city’s 2009 Land Use Plan for the Ohio 741 corridor and the proposed development is modelled after that plan.
“We want to create something that is unique and special,” Dillin said. “Something different for Springboro.”
Dillin said he does not do cookie-cutter developments.
Dillin’s plan included:
- The total number of housing units (single-family lots and townhomes) is 299, down from the 519 approved by the Planning Commission and the original proposal of 577 units. The new plan will have 218 single-family units. This a reduction of 48% from the original submittal and 42% reduction from the Planning Commission recommended plan.
- The Senior Independent Living facility has been shifted to the south of the property. City officials said it is 113 units and appears to be three-stories tall.
- Two dwellings would be maintained on the farmstead;
- 32 owner-occupied townhomes have been added in the area where multi-family residences were previously proposed; there are 79 total townhomes now;
- The area for commercial development has increased from 14 acres to 19 acres.
In hearings over the past few months, several residents have spoken in favor of the plan because they said they wanted the option to stay in Springboro for the independent living community, or to see new restaurants opened.
Some residents of subdivisions adjacent to the property and others throughout the city have said they are opposed to this version of the project because of the number of homes proposed, traffic issues and the amount of commercial space proposed for the development.
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 were either rejected by the city or dropped.
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