Tuesday, December 30, 2003

County OKs housing project

But vineyard owner says homes, farm don't mix

By Jon Gambrell
Enquirer contributor

HAMILTON TWP. - Plans for a large housing development have won the recommendation of county planners.

The Villages of Classicway, a development to be built near Morrow-Cozaddale Road on a 216-acre former horse farm, recently won approval for the first residential phase from the Warren County Regional Planning Commission.

More than 400 homes are planned.

"We're really excited about the project," said Rakesh Ram, a partner of the Boulder Development Co., the company planning the development. "We are also excited to have the support the commission and the township has shown on it."

Housing will be for the "move-up" to "empty-nester" buyer, and later building will include commercial businesses and condominiums, Ram said.

If the housing plans pass Hamilton Township's zoning commission, the final step is approval for signs, landscaping and lighting, according to township planning and zoning commissioner Gary Boeres.

Residents in the township, now the fastest-growing township in Ohio's second-fastest-growing county, stalled the planned development for a time over concerns about school overcrowding and noise concerns. After adding landscaping buffers, lowering the number of homes to be built per acre and agreeing to $250 per home impact fees to offset school crowding, the subdivision won a zoning change from the township.

However, some people, such as Valley Vineyards Estate co-owner Ken Schuchter, still have doubts.

Schuchter, who runs the 57-acre winery with his father, said while many people are attracted to living the country life, they don't respond well to the noise of early morning farm work or the pesticide used in the fields.

After holding private meetings with the developers and attending the township's zoning hearings, Schuchter still worries new residents might sue him over his use of pesticides, noise or even the smells of his farm.

"The houses will be downwind from my farm," he said. "I'm concerned their windows would be white (with pesticide)."

The next Hamilton Township zoning commission meeting about the development is scheduled for 7 p.m., Jan 12.


E-mail jgambrell@fuse.net

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