Residents are rallying to stop two developers from building hundreds of new homes in Sugarcreek Twp., but the projects still could happen in ways that the township would lose out on new property tax revenue.
The two proposed projects border the cities of Beavercreek and Centerville, making them potential annexation targets.
Records show Beavercreek officials have discussed the prospect of annexing the 66 acres along Darst and Swigart roads with the property owner Janice Dunlap and her son Kevin. Cincinnati-based HPA Development Group is looking to get approval for 189 homes on Dunlap’s Ralph D. Black property.
Oberer Land Developers is looking to get zoning approval on a plan to build nearly 100 homes on about half of 85 vacant acres in the area of Wilmington-Dayton and Conference roads, which lies adjacent to the city of Centerville.
Sugarcreek Twp. trustees oppose annexations, but the reality is their decisions are “sometimes not final,” said Township Administrator Barry Tiffany.
“Developers have options,” Tiffany said. “We feel strongly that the developments that we ultimately see by keeping parcels within the township are more reflective and inclusive of those things that our residents value.”
In the Darst and Swigart roads request, the Dayton Daily News used public records laws to obtain communications from January 2013 between the Dunlaps and Beavercreek Planning Director Jeffrey M. McGrath.
“Over the years we have contemplated annexing the property into Beavercreek, but haven’t spent much time looking into it. We thank you for taking the time to send us the letter and would welcome the opportunity to set up a conference call to further discuss the proposal,” reads an email from Kevin Dunlap to McGrath.
The email is in response to a Jan. 8 letter McGrath wrote to Janice Dunlap opening the dialogue about annexation.
“The city staff and elected officials take pride in making this as easy as possible for the owner of any property wishing annex into the city of Beavercreek,” McGrath’s letter reads. “Unlike many communities, we offer to handle all of the necessary professional services that are required to complete an annexation petition.”
The city of Beavercreek has approved several similar annexations in the past that led to development. According to McGrath, examples include township land that were surrounded by city limits, including on Pentagon Boulevard, Colonel Glenn Highway and on Factory Road.
“(Past) annexations have been done when we have a request from a property owner who wants their property to be annexed into the city,” McGrath said. “All of our annexations have been Expedited Type II owner-initiated annexations.”
Expedited Type II annexations are streamlined processes that require the consent of all property owners involved. Cities must submit several documents, including accurate maps and plans for maintaining roads and other services.
McGrath said annexing the Black property hasn’t been discussed since 2013.
“As it was in 2013, the city would not annex the property unless it was at the request and the desire of the property owner to do so,” he said.
In the Oberer proposal,
city officials said Centerville has not had any communications with the property owner.
By working with developers during the planning stages, township officials can better control what the development will look like while maintaining the “geographical integrity of the township,” Sugarcreek’s Tiffany said.
“We put a large emphasis on preserving the natural features of parcels like wooded areas and creek corridors and on creativity in design,” he said.
When one farm is annexed into an adjacent city to allow development, that can open the door for future annexations of other nearby farms, Tiffany said. But when an annexation is avoided, other farmlands become less “susceptible to annexation,” he said.
“Unfortunately, when it comes to annexation, it is the laws in the state of Ohio that continue to put the rights of municipalities and their citizens ahead of the rights of townships and their residents to determine the quality of life in their own communities,” Tiffany said.