First agricommunity in region approved in Warren County

Agriculture would be focus of new housing community.

Aberlin Springs would feature up to 179 dwellings within a community focused on agriculture.

The development would replace the Aberlin family farm on 141 acres, south of Lebanon and just off Interstate 71 in Union Twp., but encourage families to live together and embrace agriculture.

“Were bringing families back together again,” Said Maureen McDermott, partner in the NorthPointe Group, developer of the project.

It would be the first agricommunity in the region.

There are about 200 around the country, including Liberty Prairie, near Chicago, Serenbe near Atlanta, and Willowsford near Washington D.C. The original one, Agritopia, is in Arizona.

On Tuesday, the Warren County Board of Commissioners approved the plan, despite questions about a high-tech septic system designed to manage and treat the sewage, then trickled onto the farm fields.

On Thursday, the county’s Regional Planning Commission will consider the preliminary plan.

But Tuesday was the commissioners’ last chance to set conditions on what Planner Zachary Moore called a “rather unique” development.

Fields will be set aside for a community garden, crops and grazing.

Built in four phases, the development is to include 139 lots, featuring at least one home. There will be pocket neighborhoods of smaller homes and 40 larger lots where a secondary dwelling, such as a gatehouse, mother-in-law suite, studio or office, will also be permitted.

Still 80 acres are to remain in woods.

The current home, pond and pool will be at the center of Aberlin Springs and devoted to community-sustained agriculture.

The community will feature a homeowners association and association responsible for the community-sustained agricultural aspects.

The Ohio EPA is permitting the septic system, through which tanks for the individual lots will funnel sewage to a central distribution device trickling onto a field.

Still the county questioned the design and predicted a malfunction would result in calls from angry residents.

The developer explained it would be overseen by a private operator.

“What impact is that going have on this community because it has a private septic system?” Assistant County Prosecutor Bruce McGarry asked.

The individual lot systems are to be sized to manage the homes built there. Rules overseen by the homeowner’s association will bar property owners from selling, renting or leasing the second dwellings and limit residency to family members.

“That’s part of the restriction,” said Bob Garlock, a planner for Bayer Becker. “It’s all part of that family.”

Once the preliminary plan has been approved by the planning commission, Aberlin Springs lacks only final staff approvals before construction can begin.

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