Residents attend Wednesday’s meeting of the Springboro planning commission to learn about plans to develop most of the Easton Farm property. LAWRENCE BUDD/STAFF
Photo: Lawrence Budd
Photo: Lawrence Budd

Easton Farm developer seeking approval in Springboro

“We’re happy making progress. We’re looking forward to continuing to work with the city to bring this project to fruition,” Michael Copfer, land acquisition and development manager for Hills Properties, said Thursday.

On Wednesday, Hills Properties received a better response than it had to its initial plan for the 86 of 101 acres of the Easton Farm.

RELATED: City sends developer back to drawing board

City officials also offered direction in charting the way forward.

While making progress with city officials, Hills Properties got another thumbs-down from residents concerned about traffic, safety and other effects of the proposed development.

Chief among the concerns expressed during the meeting was a density of about 12 residences an acre in some parts of the development.

“If you have a density of 12 plus whatever and you make that into a Garden of Eden and you pave the sidewalks with gold, you still have a density of 12,” resident Dale Siefferlen said.

The new plan, released last Friday by the city’s planning department, added a buffer sought by neighbors in adjoining developments as well as roads and trails through the development and leading north, south and east from the development onto existing neighborhood streets or Main Street, Ohio 741, in Springboro.

It also cut the number of homes proposed from 485 to 467 and made small changes in the sizes and density proposed. A mix of single and multi-family housing, as well as a commercial development, including a senior-living facility, restaurants and “convenience retail,” are proposed.

During his presentation Wednesday, Copfer promised to complete a section of the city’s bike trail network through the development, including benches and other amenities.

Copfer also said he looked to planning staff to tell him what uses would and wouldn’t work in the planned unit development.

RELATED: Springboro rejected Easton Farm development plan in 2008

Before the meeting, Becky Hall, an Easton resident who plans to continue living on the farm after the development, said she was in favor of the development only because her sister, who owns the other half of the farm, wanted to sell it to Hills.

During the meeting, Hall questioned how long it would take the city to approve the plan.

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If the commission recommends approval at its April 26 meeting, the city council would approve it no sooner than June 15, City Manager Chris Thompson said.

Before considering approval, commissioners and staff told Copfer he needed “at least one more work session” to submit a list of approved uses, develop the road system and finalize other details of the development.

Rather than density of residential development, Copfer said he planned to work on design guidelines in anticipation of the next meeting in April.

“That’s what I’m focusing on going forward,” he said Thursday.

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