City officials sent the proposed developers of a historic farm comprising one of the last large tracts of land along Main Street in Springboro back to the drawing board.
But the plan by Hills Properties to build a mix of commercial and residential development on fields of the 101-acre Easton Farm was not rejected by the Springboro Planning Commission or the city officials gathered for a work session unveiling the plan.
Instead, the developer was encouraged at the Wednesday work session to resubmit a plan reducing the density of the houses and town home sections of the development.
City officials also urged Hills to add road and trail connections from Gardner Park, in the Village Park development, to the city’s North Park and to limit the potential uses for the land at 605 N. Main St., Ohio 741 in Springboro.
Currently 30 commercial uses, including hotels or motels, could be proposed.
“It’s not just hotel and motel that you might want to take look at,” said Alan Schaeffer, the city’s law director.
The city’s response left one of the owners, Becky Hall, hopeful the plan would ultimately be adopted, unlike one rejected in 2008.
“This one does not have a big box,” Hall said in a phone interview after the meeting. “That’s what killed it last time.”
The development is south of the Village Park and Settler’s Walk developments.
Hills, owners of Inverness Homes, plans to build a commercial development along the road frontage on Main Street and single-family and town homes on 86.6 of the farm, leaving the rest for Hall and her husband, Ted.
Hall said the couple and her sister had a purchase contract with Hills.
“We’ve been working with them for about a year,” she said.
The land is shared by trusts created for the Halls and her sister, Ruth Cook.
The original plan called for more than 450 residences, backing up to a single lot at Hunter Springs, a residential community north of the farm.
The meeting room was filled. Residents expressed concern about the views from the homes being transformed pastoral to residential. They called for mounds or other screening to limit the transition.
“Right now we look out over a field. That’s wonderful. Nobody thought it would last forever,” resident Justin Wiedle said.
Residents also questioned plans calling for walking or biking trails near their homes and the implications of more than 1,000 new residents.
“Traffic becomes a concern,” Wiedle said.
Hills could resubmit or move forward with the current proposal on Jan. 25.
If Hills submits a new plan, the next planning commission work session for its review is Feb. 8.
This could place it on an agenda with a development plan for a Meijer store, housing and other commercial development on more than 80 acres of another former farm on Central Avenue, Ohio 73 in Springboro.
Hills representatives could not be reached about their plans.