Springboro council to vote on Easton Farm rezoning, preliminary development plan

Developers of the proposed Easton Farm project have submitted a revised plan that eliminates multi-family housing from the project. Springboro officials received the plan earlier this week. The project's rezoning and revised preliminary plan will have a second reading by Springboro City Council at its next meeting. CONTRIBUTED/CITY OF SPRINGBORO
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Developers of the proposed Easton Farm project have submitted a revised plan that eliminates multi-family housing from the project. Springboro officials received the plan earlier this week. The project's rezoning and revised preliminary plan will have a second reading by Springboro City Council at its next meeting. CONTRIBUTED/CITY OF SPRINGBORO

Springboro City Council is scheduled to vote Thursday on a proposed $265 million mixed use development dubbed Easton Farm.

Council members are scheduled to vote on proposed rezoning and the project’s general development plan, and can approve it; modify the plan with conditions; reject it, or table action until another meeting.

The council work session starts at 6 p.m. followed by the council meeting at 7 p.m. at the Springboro City Building.

The project is proposed for 103.3-acres at 605 N. Main St./Ohio 741, between Anna Drive and Tamarack Trail. It was proposed to the city Planning Commission on March 10 by co-developers, Larry Dillin of the Dillin LLC, and Doug Borror of Columbus-based Borror Group.

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Dillin has said the goal of the project is to create a walkable, mixed-use neighborhood to address various needs not being met in Springboro. The proposal includes a commercial district, parks, walking/biking paths, an independent living facility, townhomes and single-family homes.

In hearings this summer 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 have said they are opposed to this version of the project because of density of homes proposed in the Planned Unit Development, and voiced concerns about traffic issues and about the amount of commercial space proposed for the development.

This is not be 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 rejected by the city or dropped.

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The Easton Farm property is zoned R-1, Estate-Type Residential District. The R-1 District allows residential development at a density of two dwelling units per acre on 20,000 square foot lots. The R-1 District was applied to this property in 2015 as part of the implementation of the current Planning & Zoning Code.

The new proposal seeks rezoning the land to Planned Unit Development-Mixed Use, with three components: mixed-use, multi-family, and residential.

The Springboro Land Use Plan, adopted by City Council in April 2009, includes recommendations for this area of town. It stated that Preferred Land Uses for the area include convenience retail, personal service, retail ses limited to a maximum of 75,000 square feet in floor area, among other uses. The Land Use Plan also calls for residential development at an overall density of six to eight dwelling units per acre. The Dillin proposal the council will vote on Thursday meets the criteria of the Land Use Plan and meets the standards it set for density.

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In planning commission meetings, the developers listened and met with residents who raised concerns and opposition as well as with city staff. On June 9 the city’s Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend the city council approve the project.

The developers have adjusted the plan multiple times and removed features originally proposed in an attempt to make it more acceptable for neighboring residents. Among the changes were a reduction of building heights from four stories to three stories; eliminating a parking garage; reducing the number of apartments; increasing the green space; eliminating an outparcel for a fire station; and donating more acreage to North Park.

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The Planning Commission approved a version of the project that would see construction of 519 dwelling units — apartments, townhomes, and single-family residences — on 89 acres of land, for a development density of 5.83 units per acre.

The city’s density calculation excludes a 16-acre family farm which already exists on the back of the property, as well as a proposed 113-unit independent living facility.

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The plan also included 22.89 acres of open space, 25.72 percent of the residential land area. City officials said the 2009 Land Use Plan for that area recommends development up to six to eight units per acre when a minimum of 25% open space is provided. The new proposal also excludes commercial uses such as gas stations, hotels, car washes, and stand-alone drive-throughs; and eliminated any street connections to Fox Trail Drive.

The plan being proposed now includes:

  • 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.