Judd is a dud … for now

The Batavia Township Board of Trustees held a public hearing on July 9, 2018, for a controversial proposed subdivision that would see 187 single family lots built on some 72 acres of farmland at 195 Judd Road. The event attracted a standing room only crowd – most of whom were opposed to the project.

Batavia Township residents upset over proposed Judd Road subdivision; trustees delay the decision

By Megan Alley
Sun staff

The Batavia Township Board of Trustees pushed making a decision on a controversial proposed subdivision development to next month.

A public hearing for the project was held in the middle of the trustees’ regular meeting July 9. The event attracted a standing room only crowd – most of whom were opposed to the project – and it lasted more than two hours, including presentations from the township’s planning staff as well as the applicant’s team, and public comments.

Referred to as the Judd Road development, the applicant, Richard Hoffman, of Milford, is seeking a zoning amendment for his, and co-owner Thomas Hoffman’s, approximately 72.1 acres of farmland at 195 Judd Road.

The Hoffmans want to change the farmland’s zoning designation from “A” agricultural district to “PD” planed development so that they, in tandem with the developer Ryan Homes, can turn the swath of land into 187 single family lots.

The net residential density was said to be 2.7 dwellings per acre, with access to be provided through the construction of a new street to intersect Judd Road on the north side of the road about 420 feet east of Greenbrook Drive, according to the staff report.

“The subdivision will connect to an existing stub street – Clearbrook Lane – to the west and an existing stub street – Millstream Drive – to the north. Two stub streets are also proposed to the east. The proposed street network will result in 5 cul-de-sac streets … the proposed streets will have 50-foot rights-of-way,” read that report.

The township’s zoning commission unanimously recommended denial of the zone change and preliminary development, noting that the preliminary development plan did not provide amenities and a creative design that is comparable with adjacent developments, Jonathan Wocher, planning consultant for the township, said.

Jason Brown, of Ryan Homes, who spoke on behalf of the applicant, said that the Hoffmans purchased the farmland 27 years ago and had always “desired it to be residential community on the property.”

“The homes that we are proposing to be built here, based on current market conditions, … will range from between 1,800 [square feet] and 3,000 square feet and should sell between $275,000 and $350,000,” Brown said.

No fewer than 10 township residents spoke against the project. Stated issues of concern fell into consistent themes, including (commuter, school and construction) traffic, lack of adequate access for emergency vehicles, density, street parking, runoff, loss of open space, the impact of an increased student population to the West Clermont Local School District and safety and privacy concerns from neighbors who own acreage – sometimes used for hunting – adjacent to the property.

Denise Boutet, who lives in the neighboring Forest Glen subdivision, urged the trustees to consider the traffic impacts the Judd Road development might present.

“This will impact safety because of increased traffic; we already have challenges with people speeding past our playground when they cut through our subdivision,” she said.

Stephanie Humpries and her husband Dave Humpries live on 67 acres of land next to the proposed subdivision. Their land has been in their family for generations.

“When I think of Clermont County, I think of people having property, and wanting that, so I guess my question is, when does the growth project become overwhelming for those who would like to preserve the originality and uniqueness of Clermont County,” she said. “We’re being boxed in, because we want to have property, by all these overwhelming subdivisions that are moving in on us.”

Trustee Bill Dowdney responded by saying, “It’s a tough call. You’ve got to make something that’s affordable, but at the same time it would be nice if everybody could afford five-acre lots with half-million dollar homes, but that’s just not the case.”

Trustee James Sauls, Jr. then chimed in with, “It boils down to, people build what people buy.”

Jeni Fulton, who, along with her husband, recently moved to the community to start their young family because of the acreage the township had available, also expressed concern with encroachment by subdivisions.

“Just coming from a standpoint that land is desirable, to have a three-acre lot, for people of our age; we have friends in Anderson Township, and when they come to our house, they would love to live in a house that’s like where we’re at, and there just isn’t anywhere to do that,” she said. “It’s desirable, they’re just not there.”

After much discussion and input from all sides, it became clear that no decision was going to be made during the meeting.

“I think we beat this horse to death … does anyone have anything original to add,” Sauls quipped.

The trustees decided to continue the hearing in progress to their next meeting on Aug. 6, after they can further look into some of their questions about emergency vehicle access, the applicant trying, again, to acquire a home adjacent to the property that is considered a “nuisance,” and more.

“This is a very important decision … so if you don’t mind, we would like to research just a little bit more,” Dowdney said.