Sunday, August 1, 2004

Colerain weighs costs of growth

By Liz Oakes
Enquirer staff writer

Dave and Kim Fulmer of Colerain twp stand in their yard with the Monte Vista home development behind them.
(Ernest Coleman/The Enquirer)
COLERAIN TWP. - Kim Fulmer's daughter, Kelsey, 8, and son, Bela, 3, loved playing among the trees surrounding their back yard, which borders Green Township.

That was before a developer moved in.

Today, Fulmer says, "there's absolutely no green space, none. Not even a dead piece of grass."

Fulmer, 34, who has lived on Mullen Road for 12 years, says the "green space" that was to buffer her property from the condos under construction now consists of the trees on her property.

She also worries about runoff from the development, which diverts water near her property.

Colerain Township officials say they want to ward off problems they've seen in neighboring communities such as Green Township as their own community faces a booming future.

Such development has given him "a road map of what not to do," said Colerain Township Trustee Bernie Fiedeldey.

What: Draft comprehensive plan meeting.

When: 7 p.m. Aug. 12.

Where: Township building, 4200 Springdale Road.

Information: (513) 385-7500.

Next week, the township is holding a public meeting on the draft of its comprehensive plan, which will update its decades-old zoning plan and establish guidelines for developers. Colerain Township is trying to figure out what kind of growth it wants, what effect new sewers and roads will have, and which resources it wants preserved.

McBride, Dale and Clarion, consultants hired by Colerain, say the township could grow by more than 50 percent over the next 20 years or so. One question is: Does it want to?

"What is progress and what is just growth?" said Trustee Keith Corman. "We want to make sure it's done with everybody in mind."

With a population of 60,036 as of 2002 and an area of 45 square miles, the township is Ohio's largest.

Under current township policies, the study calculates, the township, if fully developed, could see nearly 14,000 new homes and about 36,000 more residents..

Almost a third of the township is farmland or undeveloped, with most of its housing - 34 percent - single-family homes on lots of 5 acres or less.

The plan divides the township into 11 areas, each with its own character and capacity for development.

Among the study's points:

• The township does not have a specific plan for parks and open space.

• Consider limited home-rule to allow for more "city-like" regulations.

• Evaluate whether cul-de-sacs or minimizing traffic congestion is more important.

• Weigh the impact of Rumpke landfill on the township.

Fiedeldey points to Fulmer's experience as a cautionary tale for Colerain. "As trustees, we have said we'd like to maintain the rural character of Colerain Township," Fiedeldey said.

"The comprehensive plan will set the vision and not some developer. I think we don't want that to happen. How do you have rural character when you strip the hillsides?"

The 11 districts:

The draft comprehensive plan divides the township into 11 areas, each its own character:

• Rural north / Dunlap Road

• Rumpke

• Bevis / Pleasant Run

• Pebble Creek / Dry Ridge Road

• Colerain Avenue

• Northbrook / Groesbeck

• Miami River Road south

• Harrison Avenue

• Daleview Road / Peach Grove

• Springdale Road / Blue Rock Road

• White Oak

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