Developer, resident file protest against Mad River Twp. rezoning referendum

A farm field at the intersection of Enon-Xenia Road and Stine Road where a housing development has been proposed. A hearing on a referendum challenging rezoning the property for the new subdivision is scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday morning at the Clark County Board of Elections.  BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Caption
A farm field at the intersection of Enon-Xenia Road and Stine Road where a housing development has been proposed. A hearing on a referendum challenging rezoning the property for the new subdivision is scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday morning at the Clark County Board of Elections. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Public hearing on referendum protest is slated for Thursday morning.

A Mad River Twp. resident and a development company, Hillside Creek Farms LLC, filed a petition against a referendum expected to appear on the Nov. 2 ballot that challenges rezoning in the township.

McTigue and Colombo LLC, a Columbus-based law office, is representing Gerald Shaw and Hillside Creek Farms LLC, who filed the protest against the referendum through the Board of Elections on Aug. 9.

A public hearing for the protest of the referendum is slated for 9 a.m. Thursday at the Clark County Board of Elections office, 3130 E. Main St. (formerly E. National Rd.) in Springfield.

The Clark County Board of Commissioners voted in June to approve the rezoning of 42 acres in Mad River Township from an agricultural district and rural residence district to a planned district residential to be used for a housing development proposed by Hillside Creek Farms on the corner of Stine and Enon-Xenia Rd. for 160 new homes.

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This rezoning resolution was met with concern from a group of Mad River Twp. residents, who filed nearly 600 signatures for a referendum to challenge the rezoning resolution to the elections board. A total of 308 valid signatures were needed for the referendum to be eligible for the ballot.

The protest filed by Shaw and Hillside Creek Farms seeks dismissal of the petition for referendum saying it “fails to include the full and correct title of [the] zoning application” necessary under the state’s revised code, according to the protest.

In addition, the protest claims the referendum petition “fails to include the name by which the zoning amendment is known” and “contains several material omissions that could mislead or confuse the average person.”

The protest states that several changes were made to the proposed development plan prior to the decision by the commissioners to rezone land for the project. For example, the developers would have to create a “buffer zone” of trees along the property’s border, which is neighbored by another development. The developers also agreed to preserve a historic cemetery on the property, as well as work to reduce flooding and drainage issues in the area.

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Kathleen Baber, who helped spearhead the referendum initiative , listed to the News-Sun some of the concerns that a group of community members have in regard to the project: stormwater drainage, the overall density of the proposed development and increased traffic to the area that would result from the new housing.

Baber and other Mad River Twp. residents gathered in early July to discuss the development project, with more than 60 people attending the meeting.

“Not everyone who signed the petition has made up their minds about how they will vote in November,” Baber told the News-Sun, “but they all wanted a voice in the matter.”

Kathleen Baber, left, and Kathy Voytko led a meeting of more than 60 Mad River Township residents in Enon in July to discuss concerns about an approved rezoning for a proposed subdivision. Photo by Brett Turner
Caption
Kathleen Baber, left, and Kathy Voytko led a meeting of more than 60 Mad River Township residents in Enon in July to discuss concerns about an approved rezoning for a proposed subdivision. Photo by Brett Turner

Randall Comer, a Springfield-based attorney, is representing the petitioners of the referendum. He filed a response to the protest on Aug. 30, arguing the petition for referendum met requirements established in the Ohio Revised Code.

“The protestors, in this case, seek to deprive the citizens of Mad River Township of the right to exercise their Constitutional and statutory rights at the ballot box because of alleged technical defects...” the response to the protest states.

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