Rural property owners win reprieve in Warren County

200 acres near I-75 to be rezoned, but less development expected.

On Tuesday, the Warren County Board of Commissioners is expected to agree to rezone about 200 acres around the intersection of Hendrickson and Union roads in Turtlecreek Twp. for less dense, less commercial future development.

“Most of the neighbors I’ve talked with are fine with the change. We do want it to be less dense,” said Debby Mitchell, who lives within the affected area on Hendrickson Road.

Still, some of about 40 property owners living around the crossroads are uneasy about proposed rezoning of their properties in anticipation of growth.

Development is expected to continue east from I-75, particularly if a new interchange is built at Greentree Road.

It also is expected to come north from the Miami Valley Gaming racino and other development at Ohio 63.

In addition, growth is expected to spread south from Ohio 122, where the Atrium Medical Center is the centerpiece of commercial development east of the I-75 interchange in the section of Middletown in Warren County.

“I guess we are all just concerned our life is going to be changed,” Carol Payton, who also lives within the affected area on Hendrickson, said during a Sept. 15 meeting on the rezoning. “We’ve all been living on that road for a very long time.”

The changes are part of steps taken to prepare the area for development according to the Gateway West Plan, a new long- range plan for development of the area, primarily Turtlecreek Twp. Warren County, between Mason and Middletown.

The rezoning from mixed use-center to mixed-use neighborhood would still allow commercial development and as many as four dwellings per acre on the farms and large lot home sites currently comprising development of the area, generally east of the Union-Hendrickson intersection, less than mile from I-75 and the Butler County line.

But it would not permit big-box stores or as many as eight dwellings per acre permitted under the current zoning, established in 2012, when all property under county jurisdiction was rezoned.

While pleased with the lesser zoning, some residents are upset the classification is still more conducive to development than the residential zoning — which allows one dwelling per two acres of land — that they had before the 2012 change.

“We all would have fought tooth and nail against that change,” Mitchell said after the meeting.

Mitchell charged she was among several neighbors who received no notice or were not otherwise made aware of the change. County officials maintain proper notice was made.

“We would have much rather have stayed residential,” Mitchell said. “We only had two choices.”

The Gateway South Plan was in part drawn up in anticipation of development at and around the Union Road intersections at Ohio 63, Greentree and Hendrickson. It also anticipates the widening of Union to five lanes from the Atrium Medical Center to Liberty Center, the new residential and commercial-use development recently opened in Butler County.

Until last week, the down-zoning was not acceptable to Chris DeBord, who owns 30 acres within the affected area. However, DeBord relented during a Nov. 10 public hearing before the commissioners.

“I’ve had a change of heart,” said DeBord, adding the other large property owner affected by the change, Ken Richardson, was also in accord on the reduced zoning. “It’s good for the neighborhood.”

The zoning change isn’t final. The property owners — or buyers or developers with other ideas for the land — can always seek rezoning for denser, or lesser, development.

After the public hearing, the commissioners delayed a vote on the change to verify Richardson also would accept the zoning change for land.

On Thursday, staff indicated Richardson had signed off on the rezoning, clearing the way for approval at Tuesday’s commissioners’ meeting.

“Growth will be occurring here. How do we want to handle it,” Commissioner Pat South said during the hearing on the Hendrickson Road change.

Next the county is expected to move forward with rezoning properties in southern Turtlecreek Twp., including land owned by the Cincinnati Zoo.

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