Developer’s plan to change Fairfield Twp. subdivision upsets residents

Some residents of Fairfield Falls subdivision aren’t too happy the developer is changing direction in the style of homes it will offer to complete the project.

The development was designed to be an empty nester community, but several years ago the developer decided to build a section for families. Now the developer wants to build more single-family homes that would attract more young families. A few people told Fairfield Twp. trustees Wednesday they’re not happy with the proposed direction.

John Bills, with the developer Fairfield Falls LLC, said they are “basically at a pivot point,” and if they are not permitted to change the zoning to allow 12 single family homes from five multi-family buildings — designed to attract empty nesters — their options are limited.

“We can’t hold these lots forever. The option we’re presenting here tonight isn’t necessarily the best option financially for us,” he said during a public hearing before the Fairfield Twp. trustees for the zone-change request. “We have to try to figure out a way forward and we think this is the best way for the community … but the other option is one we really don’t want to go down.”

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If the zoning doesn’t go through, Bills said that other option to sell the development likely means a new owner would build out the lots as allowed — five three-unit buildings — and rent each one which “is not the intent of what we ever wanted to do.”

“But the reality is if we can’t get any other builder to come in and build single-family for people to come and live in, our only other option is to sell to someone that will (buy). And unfortunately that probably means affordable rentals,” Bills said.

Fairfield Falls has been in development for the better part of decade, and is in the final throes of development. These homes would be the final few that would be built to complete the subdivision. The proposed 12 new single family homes would be in the center of the development and consistent with the southern portion of the subdivision. These lots would be smaller than what’s required within zoning, but would be compatible with what’s already being build or already constructed.

A few residents voiced their displeasure with the developer’s decision.

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Connie Leinberger, of River Ridge Lane, said she and her husband, Richard, “in no way do we want rental properties.” They own the center unit of the lone existing triplex.

But the empty nesters said they lost common area a few years ago when other homes were built, and “we look right out of our back door into someone else’s back door.”

“One of the reasons we moved to the township was there was space,” Leinberger said.

Kane Barger, of River Ridge Drive, said he was sold a false bill of goods and said, “I’m not sure who we should sue.”

“We would not have moved there,” he said. “I’m not wanting to have two-story houses in my neighborhood.”

Trustees tabled a decision until its March 22 meeting.

The Fairfield Twp. zoning board approved the zoning request by a 3-1 vote, and the township staff recommends approval of the proposed changes.

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