Developer suing to build 174 homes in Fairfield Twp.

The developer of a proposed $50 million Fairfield Twp. housing development trustees voted down more than two years ago is continuing the fight to build homes off Ohio 4.

Fairfield Twp. Trustees unanimously rejected a zoning change in December 2017 that would have allowed construction of 174 homes on 76 acres on the undeveloped land. The land is on Ohio 4, just east of the Rentschler Estates subdivision and across from Greenlawn Road.

It’s also near the camping area at the Rentschler Forest Preserve, which is owned by MetroParks of Butler County. MetroParks supported the proposed development at the December 2017 meeting.

MI Homes and others, including the Marilyn Ryan Trust and Crescent City Properties, filed a civil suit against the trustees and the township in June 2019. The plaintiffs claim they have “exhausted all administrative remedies and/or any other administrative remedies or appeals would be too vain, futile, erroneous, or unusually expensive for (the) Plaintiffs-Realtors to pursue,” according to the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs claim, among other things, the existing zoning is “arbitrary and unreasonable,” the current zoning is unconstitutional as it denies the plaintiffs “all economically viable use” of the property. They also claim the current zoning “interferes” with the plaintiff’s “reasonable investment-backed expectations” and “constitutes a taking of” property rights without due process.

Attorneys for Fairfield Twp. and MI Homes will appear before Butler County Common Pleas Court Judge Greg Howard today for a status report hearing, which has been delayed four times. The case was initially assigned to Common Pleas Judge Noah Powers.

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Fairfield Twp. Law Director Lawrence Barbiere believes some discovery deadlines will be set during the 9:45 a.m. hearing.

The Butler County Planning Commission recommended the zone change, as did the Fairfield Twp. Zoning Commission with 14 conditions. However, all three trustees voted “no.”

According to township meeting records, the public was concerned with traffic, property values and drainage issues. MI Homes said it would seek Butler County Engineer’s Office approval before proceeding.

The engineer of the project told trustees and residents at the Dec. 14, 2017, meeting they met all county engineer and township requirements, according to township records.

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