Appeals court rejects Warren County rezoning action

Credit: Lawrence Budd

Credit: Lawrence Budd

The Twelfth District Court of Appeals in Middletown sided with neighbors fighting a proposed housing development just north of Lebanon.

Three judges overturned a decision in the the Warren County Common Pleas Court permitting “green-space” set aside for the CreekSong at Meadow Lane Farm development in Turtlecreek Twp. that would include land used for an on-site sewage treatment system.

The ruling, issued Dec. 7, found approval of the rezoning in 2019 by the Warren County Board of Commissioners “violated the county’s zoning resolution,” as well as state law.

It was unclear how the ruling would affect the development.

Recent Facebook posts indicate lots in the 70-acre development, that would replace the Meadow Lane Farm on Ohio 48, with 60 homes, have been reserved. Marketing materials and signage were set up at the entrance.

A lawyer for Highland Development Partners did not respond to a request for comment. Assistant Warren County Prosecutor Bruce McGary said he would have to discuss next steps with the commissioners.

“Given the decision in the Court of Appeals, it’s, in my opinion, virtually impossible the Supreme Court would hear the case,” said Michael McNamee, lawyer for Randy and Victoria Powell, the couple whose home is along the road leading into the farm-housing development site.

“The proposed planned-unit development would set aside 18.59 acres—around 26.4% of the total land in the development—as open space.

However, 7.43 acres of that 18.59 acres was designated for use as a common sanitary sewer drip irrigation area,” Judge Robert Ringland said in the decision, Judge Robin Piper concurring.

Ringland also noted the decision allowed construction of 0.88 nits per acre although zoning there limited it to 0.5 units.

The decision reversed one by Warren County Common Pleas Judge Robert Peeler that granted summary judgment to the county and the developer, ruling the county zoning resolution didn’t apply for the planned development.

The Twelfth District decision could be put back before the appellate court judges for reconsideration or appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Or the development could go forward at the current residential zoning, permitting 35 homes on land where developer Mike Williams’s company otherwise was to be permitted to build 60.

“A settlement is always possible. In light of the court of appeals decision and prior discussions with the developer, I do not expect a settlement,” McNamee added.

While marketing has begun, the county has delayed a subsequent public hearing on the Creek Song development.

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