Thursday, April 22, 2004

Zoning panel bars Burlington subdivision

By Brenna R. Kelly
The Cincinnati Enquirer

BURLINGTON - A group of rural Boone County residents won the first round in their fight to stop a 128-home subdivision from being built on Chambers Road.

The Planning Commission's zone-change committee voted 2-1 Wednesday to deny a request that would have allowed the subdivision, Buffalo Trace.

"The community is glad that we won," said resident Dennis Repenning. "But we know it's not over."

Bold Homes wants to build a 128-home subdivision using a "clustered" design on the 53-acre site with 128 homes on 44.3 acres, 9 acres of open space and one home on a 9-acre lot, called a gentleman's farm.

That farm - not the density - was the reason two commissioners gave for voting against the plan.

"I basically consider that an illusion in this application," said Commissioner Randy Barlow. "It was presented and used for calculation purposes to get what the applicants desired."

The farm would be privately owned with a driveway off a cul-de-sac, but residents of the subdivision would not have access to the land, the developers said.

Eleven houses back up to the farm, but the other 117 homes "will be faced with a development that was generated because that was used in the calculations but they don't have the benefit of using the property," Barlow said.

The committee had suggested trails through the farm, but the developer said the farm owner could be liable if something happened.

Bold Homes submitted a similar plan a year and a half ago that was turned down by the Boone County Planning Commission.

"This area is going to be developed," said Commissioner Susan Poston, who also voted against the zone change. "I don't feel like this development is it. You're almost there."

If the developer followed the county's open space subdivision regulations, she might approve it, she said.

Commissioner Kim Bunger voted for the zone change request.

"We are a little disappointed," said Mike Kegley, vice president of Bold Homes.

The gentleman's farm was for "visual impact," he said, and would be a farm.

"There is no way you could use it as an active farm and allow the public access to it," Kegley said.

He said he looks forward to presenting the plan to the full Planning Commission.

Residents in the area near Richwood say the subdivision would not be compatible with the rural area. The site is surrounded by homes on two-acre lots and a 113-acre cattle farm.

"This community is really one of the greatest resources in Boone County," said Repenning who moved to the area after searching the county for two years for the perfect rural setting.

"If a subdivision is built there, where it's so incongruous to the neighborhood, then no place is really safe."

The developer says the "rural planned community" with one acre of green space for every seven homes would serve as a model for development in Boone County.

About 100 residents hired Covington attorney Phil Taliaferro to help them fight the development.

"I was very pleased that the committee voted against this zone change, it's outrageous," Taliaferro said.

Zone change committee members Greg Breetz and Janet Kegley did not participate in the vote. Breetz did not attend the public hearing and Kegley is married to Mike Kegley of Bold Homes.

The full Planning Commission will vote on the zone change request May 5 at 7 p.m. in Courtroom 3A in the County Administration Building, 2950 Washington St., Burlington. Their recommendation goes to Fiscal Court.


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