Saturday, February 28, 2004

Work on Deerfield Twp. housing for seniors begins

By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

DEERFIELD TWP. - After years of planning - and opposition from residents - Warren County Community Services broke ground Friday for a 48-unit senior housing development.

The $4 million, federally funded Berry Wood facility is being built on 3-plus acres of township land near Columbia and Montgomery roads. It should open in summer 2005, making it the ninth such facility Community Services operates countywide.

"It was a long process and a lot of meetings that ran until midnight," Community Services Executive Director Larry Sargeant said Friday. "But out of all that came a product that everyone can live with and can approve of."

The idea for a housing development in Deerfield Township has been talked about for more than five years, he said. But residents who live near the site were concerned that the housing for moderate-income seniors would drive down property values and cause storm water runoff problems.

For months, they negotiated with Community Services and township officials to work out their concerns and ensure most of the township's 27-acre site, behind township offices on Townsley Drive, would remain green space.

While some residents still have concerns, others like Brian Cunningham are pleased with the compromise.

"We were able to come back and say, 'These are some of the things we're looking for, so let's have some guarantee that it's not going to become something that it wasn't meant to be,'" the father of three said."It was a long process and there were many back and forth conversations before we ironed out many of the issues. ... I was very happy with the outcome."

Berry Wood residents must be at least 62 years old. The maximum annual income for a single resident is $22,500, and for two residents, $25,700. All units are one-bedroom apartments.


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