Trustees reject family-farm rezoning just beyond Springboro limits

Residents crowded a Clearcreek Twp. meeting Tuesday night where a rezoning sought by Oberer Land Developers was unanimously rejected. STAFF/LAWRENCE BUDD
Residents crowded a Clearcreek Twp. meeting Tuesday night where a rezoning sought by Oberer Land Developers was unanimously rejected. STAFF/LAWRENCE BUDD

The Clearcreek Twp. Board of Trustees voted unanimously Monday to deny a rezoning and lot size change sought by Oberer Land Developers for the Montgomery Farm, 51 acres just beyond Springboro’s southern border.

Since beginning the process in November, Oberer reduced from 100 to 85 — as recommended by the township zoning commission — the number of home lots sought for the farm, just east of the intersection of Ohio 741 and Red Lion-Five Points Road in Clearcreek Twp.

The development would have been served by Springboro sewers.

Residents the Farms of Heatherwoode, Heatherwoode, Clearcreek Estates, Oakland Hills neighborhoods, and nearby properties, urged the trustees to hold Oberer to 70 lots permitted through the existing zoning.

They urged the trustees to stick to half-acre lot sizes in the township master plan since 2005.

Approving the development plan “would potentially set a pretty dangerous precedent,” Roy Felts, an Oakland Hills resident, said, predicting other developments would then seek smaller lots. “Once that domino drops, others could follow.”

Jeffrey Trick, one of the property owners, said he was in favor of the proposed planned community. He said he and his wife learned the farm was not self-sustaining after her parents died in 2016.

“We came to the conclusion we had to sell the farm, whether we wanted to or not,” said Trick, who lives on the property.

Trick said his wife was the sixth generation Montgomery to live on the family farm.

“It took a lot of emotion to give it up,” said Trick, noting the Oberer office was only six miles from the farm.

“They’ve got a great reputation. They’ve done a lot of work in this area,” he added.

But every other resident who spoke during the public hearing preceding the vote was an opponent. In addition, close to 300 signatures were submitted in opposition.

“We’re not against rooftops, we’re against trying to cram as much as you can into a small parcel,” said resident Brad Johnson.

Both Johnson and Dana Gross described Clearcreek Twp. as an “aspirational place to live.”

In exchange for the increased development density, Oberer agreed to set aside land as “green space.”

“We create our own green spaces,” Gross said.

Gross added that every home along Ohio 741, from Springboro High School to the Red Lion-Five Points Road intersection, opposed the plan, recommended for approval by the township zoning commission.

Trustee Ed Wade said the township also received other communications on the issue, including emails, all in opposition.

Before the 3-0 vote, Wade, the board president, said Oberer can “get along with the current zoning and have a nice development there.”

Oberer declined to comment after the vote and could not be reached Wednesday about their plans for the property.