Saturday, May 8, 2004

Lot sizes to limit 'teardowns'

Concord Hills residents want change

By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

SYCAMORE TOWNSHIP - Residents who want to stop developers from tearing down older homes to split up lots in the Concord Hills neighborhood are likely to get their wish next week.

County planners rejected the measure, but township officials are expected to vote Monday in favor of residents' request to limit building lots to at least nearly an acre, said Greg Bickford, township zoning administrator.

"It's what the people want," he said. "The residents feel that their property is more valuable given the large lot size and character of the neighborhood - not just houses stacked on top of one another."

The Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission recommended Thursday against the zone change. Three of five commissioners present were in favor of it, but state law requires four affirmative votes to recommend approval, according to Ron Miller, the commission's executive director.

"The reason for the 'no' votes was that commissioners felt that increasing the lot size was contrary to goals within Hamilton County for reducing sprawl," Miller said.

The township, which has its own zoning, is not bound by the county's decision.

Ninety percent of the neighborhood's 107 homeowners signed a petition in March, asking the township to change zoning from a half-acre to nearly an acre for single-family homes on Concord Hills Circle, Concord Hills Place, Concord Hills Lane, Owlwoods Lane and portions of Miami Avenue and Keller Road.

In response to complaints last year from Concord Hills, the township created a new type of zoning that allowed property owners to form a district and restrict lot size.

Residents protested that developers were destroying the neighborhood by tearing down houses, splitting up lots, and building "panhandle" developments that put several homes behind existing residences. About 15 lots have been developed into panhandles since 1998, and several other lots were recently split up.


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