Liberty Twp. neighbors oppose memory care facility in Carriage Hill development

Credit: Submitted

Credit: Submitted

The Liberty Twp. trustees say they will likely have to approve a new memory care facility, despite an opposition petition signed by about 328 neighbors in the posh Carriage Hill subdivision.

The trustees held a completely virtual public hearing on Tuesday due to the coronavirus. The meeting lasted three-and-a-half hours and resulted in the trustees tabling approval of a major modification to the commercial portion of the Carriage Hill preliminary planned unit development plan (PUD).

Carriage Hill developer Randy Terry is requesting the modification to accommodate two identical 16,238-square-foot buildings for Beehive Carriage Hill, a memory care facility at the Ohio 747 entrance to the subdivision.

“I think a neighborhood only has one chance to make a good impression and our main entrance is really being severely downgraded in coming in, it’s not the neighborhood that we were all promised and I think it’s important,” neighbor Tom Brule said on the Zoom meeting. “They call it the Beehive I was thinking more it should be called the murder hornet at the beginning of a subdivision. It’s just the wrong thing for the wrong site.”

The development would include 24 rooms in each building with shared dining and common areas and outdoor recreational areas. The development needed the trustees’ approval because nursing homes were imagined in original plans for the residential side of Carriage Hill, not in the commercial areas.

Terry is also asking for setback variances due to the small size of parcel. Only four neighbors actually spoke during the unusual public hearing. One, Lindsay Bayer, said about 328 neighbors have a signed a petition opposing the plan. She said had the public hearing been held in-person more than 100 were planning to attend.

She said the parcel is too small for the project; they were promised small retail establishments like coffee shops, wine bars and things the neighbors could use; and parking is a concern, among other reasons for opposition.

“We would like to plead to you to please not continue to let the precedent be set to change things and make changes for Mr. Terry to fit his business plans ...,” Bayer said. “Zoning is there for a reason and we’d like that protected.”

Trustee Tom Farrell said he wanted the matter continued to the next meeting because he wants Terry to address the concerns.

“I believe the use, whether the residents want to hear or not, was a permitted use under the ORC and our code and we have no choice but to approve that, regardless of what our thoughts are,” Farrell said. “However the fact that the building is asking for setbacks indicates, that it doesn’t fit on the lot. I’ve asked them to look at the sizing of the building, or the positioning so these variances aren’t needed and add brick.”

Terry told the Journal-News later he is making the requested changes so variances won’t be required. As for future retail, there is room for approximately 15 small shops, and he says they will come.

“The challenging perception is the residents of Carriage Hill believe that only businesses that serve their needs are warranted there,” Terry said. “When the reality of a location like Carriage Hill, the residents will typically only make up about 15% of the patrons that will support a local business there.”

Trustee Christine Matacic said she is keeping an open mind for her vote until she sees what Terry presents. Trustee Steve Schramm agreed with Farrell.

“As frustrating as I think it’s going to be to the homeowners there really is nothing we can do legally,” Schramm said. “Our vision plan allows it for that corridor ... I’ve always had to let the residents know that even though it can be frustrating in your minds, we have to look at it legally through the community, and if I could lose in court, and I probably would, do I want to put the township through an expensive court battle only to lose.”

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