Warren County rejects farm rezoning for housing development

Developer Mike Williams in 2019 as his plan for the CreekSong subdivision on 70 acres just north of Lebanon was approved by the Warren County commissioners. On Tuesday, after an appeals court ruling, the county commissioners said Williams couldn't move forward. STAFF/LAWRENCE BUDD
Developer Mike Williams in 2019 as his plan for the CreekSong subdivision on 70 acres just north of Lebanon was approved by the Warren County commissioners. On Tuesday, after an appeals court ruling, the county commissioners said Williams couldn't move forward. STAFF/LAWRENCE BUDD

The Warren County commissioners delayed a hearing on a proposed Turtlecreek Twp. housing development until next month following a federal court ruling that forced denial of the existing project plan.

The commissioners will hold a hearing on the CreekSong development on Jan. 5 after rejecting developer Mike Williams’ efforts to convince them to approve his plan for 62 homes on 70 acres of farmland just north of Lebanon in expectation of sewers being provided by the City of Lebanon.

“I’ve had reservations about this from the beginning,” Commissioner Dave Young said during the Dec. 15 meeting.

The commissioners denied the development after the Twelfth District Court of Appeals ordered them to do while reversing a local decision in a lawsuit filed by neighbors Vickie and Randy Powell.

On Dec. 7, the appellate court ruled the “green space” set aside for the development couldn’t include land used for an on-site sewage treatment system. The ruling also found the commissioners’ rezoning approval in 2019 violated the county’s zoning rules and state law.

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“We have to go fix that. I don’t know what that looks like,” Young said.

The ruling determined Williams can build fewer homes — up to 42 — with sewers rather an an on-site system that was to be located in the green space, according to the commissioners’ lawyer, Assistant County Prosecutor Bruce McGary.

Otherwise the project would need to wait until the county changes the regulations to add flexibility, a process that could take four months or longer, according to McGary.

Noting Williams’ investment and commitment to the project, Commissioner Tom Grossmann questioned county staff on how the project could go forward with the number of homes sought by Williams.

Warren County commissioners delayed until Jan. 5 a hearing scheduled on the CreekSong development, after rejecting developer Mike Williams’ efforts to convince them to approve his plan for 62 homes on the land in expectation of sewers being provided by the City of Lebanon. Williams is pictured during a 2019 hearing on the project. STAFF/LAWRENCE BUDD
Warren County commissioners delayed until Jan. 5 a hearing scheduled on the CreekSong development, after rejecting developer Mike Williams’ efforts to convince them to approve his plan for 62 homes on the land in expectation of sewers being provided by the City of Lebanon. Williams is pictured during a 2019 hearing on the project. STAFF/LAWRENCE BUDD

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“I’m going to have us move expeditiously,” Grossmann said.

After considering denial and offering Williams the chance to withdraw his current application, the commissioners delayed the decision and urged Williams to consult with his lawyer on next steps.

“I’m hopeful there is some path forward,” Commissioner Shannon Jones said.

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