Nearly 80 residents and elected officials from Enon and Mad River Twp. applauded when Clark County commissioners Wednesday rejected rezoning 70 acres for new housing.
The rezoning proposed by William and Cheryl Hermann of Crawford County could have led as many as 140 houses at the northeast corner of Fairfield Pike and Hunter Road near the Houck Meadows subdivision. The Hermanns own 120 acres of property there and wanted 70 acres rezoned from agricultural to residential.
Commissioners John Detrick, Rick Lohnes and David Herier all voted against the request after residents expressed concern about flooding, increased traffic and other issues.
“The voice of the people has been spoken,” Detrick said. “We’ve questioned the issues of site distance for the roads and water drainage and we’re optimistic that there will be some other plan that will be more acceptable to the community.”
The project was previously recommended for approval by the Clark County Planning Commission but was rejected by the rural zoning commission last month in a unanimous vote after hearing residents’ concerns.
Allan Neimayer, senior planner for Clark County Community Development, recommended county commissioners approve the zoning request, noting there would be additional hearings and strict regulations in place that would address drainage and other issues.
But residents told commissioners flooding in the area has worsened with previous development and requested the Hermanns provide more detailed plans before receiving approval to rezone the property.
Supporters of the project said more detailed plans are costly and would come after the Hermanns learned whether the property could be zoned residential.
Cheryl Hermann told the crowd she and her husband want to work with Houck Meadows to mitigate flooding problems.
“If your land is not flooding then that makes our land more valuable. The intent of this whole project is to try and create value to families who want to live in this area, and if it’s flooding, nobody is going to be interested in that,” Cheryl Hermann said before the vote.
Garnett Traylor, who circulated a petition against the development, said he and others were pleased with the decision.
“We had a really good turn out with the public … The whole process was very good,” Traylor said.
Traylor said the Hermanns bought the property with the intention of developing it.
“They should be allowed to develop it. But they knew what it was when they bought it, and now they’re asking to change it (from agricultural to residential). I think they should stay with the original plan. We’re not saying no development. We’re just saying don’t change the plan from the original.”
David Eviston and his wife were among those who attended the meeting.
Eviston said he passed out fliers to make sure residents were aware of the hearing and was proud to see that dozens of people showed up to voice their concerns.
He said his primary concerns were flooding issues and increased traffic if 80 to 150 additional homes were added in the area.
“Both roads where they are looking at entrances and exits are roads that we take quite frequently and could be very dangerous at times as people pull out of their driveways,” Eviston said.
Before commissioners made their decision, Eviston said the large number of people who came to the meeting to speak against rezoning the property should be a “testament” to how many people are going to be affected by their vote.
“This is not a normal situation. The burden of proof is on the Hermanns. They own the property. They want to rezone, so the burden of proof to prove that this should happen is on them. But to this point that hasn’t happened. They have not proven that this should be rezoned. They haven’t addressed any of the traffic concern, any of the flooding concern,” Eviston said.
Eviston told commissioners it would have been ‘reckless’ to rezone the property.
“You guys are elected officials to speak for us. We’re counting on you to take our best interest at heart and consider all of these concerns that we have as real people and make a conscious decision of what’s going on here,” Eviston said.
After commissioners rejected the proposal, Cheryl Hermann said she and her husband hope to work with the community in the future.
“We respect the local community, and we hope to collaborate in the future for housing that will mutually benefit all of us,” she said.
Cheryl Hermann said they have many options and at this point they are not sure which direction they will go.