Residents question need for proposed $265M Springboro mixed-use project

Springboro Planning Commission held its first discussion about a proposed $265 million mixed-use development at Easton Farm on Ohio 741 with plenty of interest from the community.

The meeting, which was held virtually Wednesday, was the first of a multi-step process. The first step is to rezone the approximately 105 acres from R-1-residential to Planned Unit Development-mixed use development and a review of the general plan.

“This is a preliminary discussion to get more information,” said Dan Boron, city planner.

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The project’s co-developers submitted their preliminary plan and request for the rezoning last week for city staff to review. City staff reviewed the plan and noted various comments and recommendations for the developers to address.

The commission heard from the project’s co-developers, Larry Dillin of the Dillin LLC, and Doug Borror of Columbus-based Borror Group as well as four residents for and against the proposal and initial comments from commission members.

Dillin said the goal of the project is to create a walkable, mixed-use community and neighborhood to address various needs not being met in Springboro.

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When asked about downsizing or eliminating the apartments, Dillin said he would be against it because it would not have the quality they are looking for in this project. “If you want that, I’d pull the application,” he said.

Borror said they want to create a high-quality “legacy community” that would be second to none.

“Market studies have shown there is a lack of luxury apartments in Springboro,” Borror said. “If there wasn’t, we wouldn’t be here.”

Dillin said developing a PUD plan would allow the city and developers to write the standards that are uniquely designed for this project.

Robin Hall, who represented owners Ted and Becky Hall, said the farm has been in their family for several generations since 1847 and they feel it addresses many of the community’s concerns about public services, public safety, etc.

“It’s keeping the Easton name,” she said. “We’re proud of the plans developed by Dillin and Borror. Farming is not in the future (of the property).

The property is located on North Main Street/Ohio 741 between Tamarack Trail and Anna Drive.

However, 19 residents submitted their comments prior to Wednesday’s meeting, with most of them expressing concerns about increased traffic, school overcrowding, overloading North Park and other parks, and more burden on public safety and public works services.

Steve Smith, a Jacamar Court resident, said he’s seen a lot of development over the years, much of it has been “well done” as the city has been able to maintain its “small-town feel.”

“I oppose Easton,” he said. “This is like the last straw that broke the camel’s back and will have negative ramifications.”

Smith, a 28-year member of the community, said development of the family farm has been presented twice before. While the latest proposal was well-done and articulate, Smith questioned the lack of an executive summary, a statement of “why” this is needed when there is sufficient growth already; no Return on Investment study; and no impact study on North Park.

He raised concerns that development was being constructed on a flood plain; noise levels; impact on wildlife; and traffic.

Traffic, public safety and privacy was another major concern for two residents of Deer Trail, David Beckman and Justin Wiedle.

Both residents live in the Hunter Springs neighborhood, which is adjacent and west of the Easton Farm.

Wiedle said the developers “put together a thoughtful plan, it still falls short of what I and my fellow taxpaying citizens want for the city.”

He noted density was clearly an issue and not enough greenspace, both which were issues in the 2017 proposal. Boron said the 2017 proposal was withdrawn before the Planning Commission voted on it.

Wiedle was concerned that Fox Trail Drive would create a nearly mile-long strip where speed would become an issue for the large number of children in the neighborhood.

“Sadly, this development brings nothing to Springboro that isn’t already offered within a one-mile radius,” he said.

Instead of a PUD, Wiedle said it was understandable for the Easton Farm owners are interested in selling the property, he suggested the owners sell it for R-1 housing that is already being sold for $400,000 to $800,000 for 1 to 3 acre lots in new subdivisions in Clearcreek Twp.

Beckman, on behalf of Hunter Springs residents, said the proposed development clashes with current zoning and community opinion on growth.

“This would change the fabric of the community,” he said.

Beckman also said three to four-story buildings would look out of place and would affect small-town feeling of the city which is why people live or move to Springboro. In addition, in recent community surveys, 90% of residents responding want moderate or no growth in the city, he said.

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