By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Voters in two Clermont County municipalities said a resounding no to development in their areas in Tuesday's election.
Unofficial returns showed that 75 percent voted against a zoning change allowing a 203-home subdivision along Amelia-Olive Branch Road in Batavia Township, while 25 percent voted to approve it.
Township voters also were voting down a second zoning change that cleared the way for a 189-home subdivision at Apple Road and Ohio 132. The percentages were about the same: 74 percent against the rezoning and 26percent in favor.
In New Richmond, voters were considering the fate of a 155-home development along Bethel-New Richmond Road. Results showed 61 percent against the rezoning and 39 percent in favor.
It appears, however, that the New Richmond vote is moot, officials said. Village leaders have already approved another request giving the developer the go-ahead.
The issue remained on the ballot because of a court order.
A group of residents led by Ray Perszyk, who lives across the street from the disputed site, objected to the emergency classification of the ordinance, which put the original proposal into effect immediately. Residents balked, arguing it was an attempt to keep the issue from a public vote.
They also argued the land is already zoned residential and can adequately support 90 homes. The emergency ordinance rezoned the project to support a proposal of 155 homes, decreasing lot sizes.
Village leaders said development of this site would bring revenue to the village. Several months ago, the developer came back with a revamped proposal and village officials again approved it as an emergency action.
Residents in Batavia Township and New Richmond fought the zoning changes, arguing that the proposed subdivisions were too dense for their areas. But developers have argued that their subdivisions will help these areas by expanding their tax bases.
In Batavia Township, residents formed Citizens for a Rural and Valued Environment (CRAVE), while developers had their own advocacy group, Citizens for Smarth Growth.
Batavia Township Trustee Archie Wilson is co-owner of the Amelia-Olive Branch property.
Residents say he promised not to develop the land while he was in office.
Wilson denies making such a promise.
Residents also argued that the land might have been tainted by lead paint that had been stored there, but Wilson said there was no contamination.
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