A recently purchased piece of farmland in Enon is at the center of a dispute between neighbors and the new owner.
Calvin Hahn and his company Hillside Creek Farms LLC purchased about 112 acres at 6766 Stine Road for $850,000 at the end of last year. His spokesman said he intends to farm the land and has no immediate plans for development.
But neighbors are concerned. Once the weather improved, neighbors said he began clearing the site, including removing many trees and damaging the Shellabarger family cemetery in a corner of the farmland. Veterans from the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 are believed to be buried there.
Currently no owner is listed for the cemetery property on county records and legal research will likely need to be done in order to determine the rightful legal owner, according to the Clark County Engineer’s office. The piece of property likely fell through the cracks when the large acreage was divided up over the decades, especially because with a cemetery on it, there was little effort to sell it.
It’s possible the case might have to go to court for a judge to issue a new deed.
Russel Oost recently found his relatives’ long-lost grave site in the cemetery. He is a direct descendent of the cemetery’s original owner and has a copy of the deed from the 1700s.
Oost put a rope fence around the 0.2-acre piece of land the cemetery is on once the clearing started. He believes it belongs to him because of his grandfather’s deed.
“I would just like to see a fence put up around it and for him to leave it alone,” Oost said. “I don’t want you to farm on it. Let them rest in peace. It’s my ancestors.”
However, Hahn, represented by Yianni Lagos, has accused Oost of trespassing on the property and filed a lawsuit stating Hillside Creek Farms is the rightful owner of the property.
“Since the property has been farmed and possessed by the previous owner for over a decade, the law provides it has already been equitably transferred to the individuals or their successors that have been in possession of the property,” Hahn’s spokesman Chris Shaw said.
Hahn is sensitive to the situation and has been exploring various ideas to permanently recognize Oost’s ancestors, Shaw said.
“We hope to be in a position to discuss those ideas with Mr. Oost and any other descendants in the coming weeks,” Shaw said.
Kasey Crager and other Civil War re-enactors went to the cemetery after the Memorial Day Parade and held a tribute to the veterans that are buried there. Crager hopes the cemetery doesn’t become farmland because of the historical significance of who is buried there.
“It gives it more special reason to bring attention to this, knowing there are veterans that represented our country,” Crager said.
Residents are also concerned the land will be developed into residential or commercial property.
“I am very frustrated by this and I wish people would be able to work together and respect the property rights of everybody in this community,” Mad River Twp. Trustee Kathy Estep said.
Enon resident Pam Weaver is upset about the removal of trees on Hahn’s property. She said Hahn told her to put ribbons around the trees and that he would keep them.
However, one day Weaver came home and the trees were gone.
Crager is neighbors with Weaver and stood in front of a crane about to take down a tree, hoping it would stop its removal, but a sheriff’s deputy made Crager move.
Hahn spokesman’s, Shaw, is the owner of an Arizona commercial development company.
When asked why Hahn chose the area to farm, Shaw said in an email that Hahn was born in the Enon area and was raised on a farm.
“He has been interested in purchasing a farm in Enon for several years when this became available,” he said. “Mr. Hahn has no intent to develop the property in the foreseeable future.”
Hahn hasn’t filed any rezoning documentation, according to Allan Neimayer of the Clark County Zoning Commission.
However, Neimayer does anticipate future development on the property.
“All signs indicate he’s taking the first steps toward development,” Neimayer said.
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