Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Halt called to home building

Clearcreek Twp. rule in effect for a year

By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

CLEARCREEK TWP. - When it comes to new homes, officials in this northern Warren County township say enough is enough - at least for now.

It's the first Warren township to impose a yearlong moratorium on residential developments. It affects subdivisions with more than five lots that are not already in the process of being approved or built.

It's a new wrinkle in Warren County's debate on how to control the residential growth in Ohio's second-fastest-growing county.

"It is not going to stop a house that's under construction. It's not going to stop the completion of subdivisions that have already begun or that are in the pipeline," Township Administrator Dennis Pickett said of the moratorium, which went into effect immediately after it was passed late last week. "This is a pause, while we complete the planning process and decide what we're going to do with the zoning."

The township's land-use master plan could be updated as early as this fall. In the meantime, the township is considering increasing minimum lot sizes for new subdivisions.

According to township estimates, population in the unincorporated areas under its jurisdiction is now at 10,401 - a more than 18 percent jump in little more than three years.

And there's more to come, even with this moratorium, as another 1,143 new homes are pending approval.

Other local governments have used temporary moratoriums. Lebanon has banned multi-family homes and Warren County has prohibited building telecommunications towers, according to Bob Craig, executive director of the Warren County Regional Planning Commission.

The Home Builders Association of Greater Cincinnati, however, argues that since growth ultimately pays its way, moratoriums will cause more problems because stopping construction cuts off the revenue stream.

In Hamilton Township, where much of the growth management debate has been focused, trustees have been lukewarm to the idea because they fear it will lead to annexations. But Trustee Becky Ehling said she would bring up Clearcreek's decision at Wednesday's trustees meeting.

"Just because they're the first doesn't mean they've litigated it out," Ehling said. "It will be interesting to see what happens."


E-mail esolvig@enquirer.com

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