UNION TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WKRC) - Not in my backyard: That's the message from some residents in Union Township.
The residents are upset a developer wants to build more than 1,400 residences on farmland on Rumpke Road.
Bill Hopple has been the director of the Cincinnati Nature Center for two decades. He's concerned about the environmental impact 1,000 new homes could have.
“We have 1,000 acres. We are a nationally recognized nature center and we deserve the right to have everything done possible to protect our property, and they have not contacted us; they have not asked for any scientific opinion,” said Hopple. “It’s upstream from a 1,000-acre nature preserve. Why are we putting 1,500 residences instead of 575 that the consent decree called for?”
Mark Lutz lives across from the development site. He's concerned about his property too.
“I have a five-acre lot here. I might have a 20-acre lot across my front yard with the current development plans,” said Lutz. “That kind of density has environmental impacts and traffic impacts."
Township Trustee John McGraw says the proposed development for 1,445 residences would help Union Township.
“This development would actually make the environment better because, one, it's going to preserve greenspace, which is not guaranteed under the current agreement, and there's a lot of people on septic tank systems,” said McGraw. “This will eliminate some of the septic tank systems."
McGraw also says traffic will be improved and neighborhood amenities would make Union Township more attractive.
“I think in the long run, they'll be happy with it,” said McGraw.
The battle over the property along Rumpke Road has been raging for the past 20 years. So much so that a federal court ruled on this issue back in the year 2000.
The federal court decree says no more than 575 single-family residences could be built on the Rumpke Road property. The property owner signed the decree and so did the township trustees back then, so neighbors now want to know: What changed?
“It was a consent decree, which was not a good deal for either the township or the landowner or the residents, and that's why nothing's ever developed there," said McGraw.
Only township trustees can change the decree, which is what they will vote on this Thursday.
McGraw says the new plan, which features 1,445 units, a new park and wider roads, will help everyone.
“This is all about money,” said Lutz. “This is favoring the interests of one person: the property owner."
“I would disagree that it's all about the money. To me, it's all about the amenities that we're adding for the current residents,” countered McGraw.
The Union Township trustees are set to vote on the property development this Thursday. Residents say they plan on submitting a petition against the proposal Wednesday.