By Brenna R. Kelly
The Cincinnati Enquirer
RICHWOOD - After three years in Park Hills, Harold Jetter and his wife wanted more space.
"It was a nice home, but the neighbors were three feet away," Jetter said. "We just wanted to be out in the country."
So they moved to rural Boone County, built a house and enjoyed their 2 acres of green space.
Sixteen years later, Boone County has become the second-fastest growing county in the state and the 96th-fastest in the country. Subdivisions are sprouting on what were farms, and the rural landscape is changing.
A developer wants to build a 128-home subdivision with 2.8 homes per acre and about 18 acres of open space near Jetter's home.
The proposed subdivision, Buffalo Trace, would use a "clustered" design on a 53-acre site at Chambers Road and Decker Lane near Walton.
While residents say the subdivision would destroy the rural character of the area, the developer says the "rural planned community" would serve as a model for development in Boone County.
Residents plan to attend a public hearing on the proposal at 7 p.m. today at the County Administration Building.
In the last month, Jetter has passed out 250 fliers and made "I don't know how many phone calls." The residents - more than 100 of them - have hired lawyer Phil Taliaferro to fight the development.
Residents say the density of the subdivision is too much for the area, the roads can't handle additional traffic and Chambers Road often floods.
"If this goes through, we might as well be in downtown Cincinnati," said Taliaferro.
Developers need a change in zoning, and a similar request was turned down by the Boone County Planning Commission more than a year ago.
The new plan, submitted by Bold Homes, has more houses and more green space.
"It's even worse than the other one," Taliaferro said, noting that the new plan has more houses per acre.
Buffalo Trace will be compatible with the area, said Mike Kegley, vice president of Bold Homes.
"There will be architectural controls to maintain the feel and look of the neighborhood," Kegley said.
The homes will have a view of green space, and homeowners will be required to plant two trees.
In the development, 128 homes would be clustered on 44.3 acres, 9 acres would be left open and another 9 acres would be one lot for a farm. The open spaces would be linked together with trails, and home sites would be designed around conservation areas.
"There will be one acre of green space for every seven homes," Kegley said.
In January, Bold Homes invited 250 nearby residents to a meeting to show the plans. An estimated 35 people attended and gave mixed reactions, Kegley said.
Residents who oppose any development in the area will never be happy with any plan, he said. "If we do our subdivision this way it will put pressure (on other developers) to follow the open space guidelines that we use."
Kegley is married to Planning Commission member Janet Kegley, who said Tuesday she will recuse herself from any decisions about the subdivision.
Jetter, who lives on Gaines Way, said he's not opposed to the type of houses - just the number of them.
"There is nothing near it that is anything like this," said Jetter.
Most lots in the area are more than two acres, he said, including a nearby 113-acre cattle farm. "A lot of people would like to see this area be one of the areas in Boone County that are left nice," he said.
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