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Published: Wednesday, 10/10/2007

Springfield township Suit seeks OK for subdivision


A developer whose plans for a subdivision in Springfield Township were stymied by a referendum has gone to court to force the trustees to allow the project anyway.

The irony is that the trustees have approved, twice, the zoning change Kountryside Land Development Inc. needed for its planned subdivisions at 6901 Garden Rd.

After the trustees gave their first OK, opponents of the project collected enough signatures on a petition to place the issue on the ballot in May of last year.

Residents easily defeated the zoning change by 1,074 to 615 at the polls.

That vote, however, did not preclude the developer from coming back to the township with plans for another subdivision and another request for a zoning change - and that's just what happened.

Kountryside wants to develop 49 lots for villa and single-family detached dwellings at the 18-acre site. Once again the trustees gave their approval, and once again opponents circulated a petition and put the issue on the ballot. Voters will decide the matter for the second time Nov. 6.

Opponents of the development have expressed concerns about declining property

values and traffic congestion.

In its lawsuit filed in Lucas County Common Pleas Court, Kountryside claims its rights under the U.S. and Ohio Constitutions have been violated.

It wants a judge to order the trustees to change the zoning classification of the property to R-1, for single-family residential, from its current RA-3, for large lot rural residential, no matter what the voters say.

"Our basic request is that the property be zoned as an R-1 single-family residence district, which is the primary zoning classification in the general area of the property and which was approved by the Planning Commission and the township trustees," Jeffrey Stopar, an attorney for Kountryside, said.

In its complaint, Kountryside notes it has complied with all the township's legal requirements and that its rezoning request is consistent with the township's master plan.

The developer argues that "the denial of the zoning request, through the referendum process, has no reasonable relation to the public health, safety, and welfare of the township."

The complaint maintains the voters have deprived Kountryside of its property without due process. "The denial of the zoning request, through the referendum process, is unlawful," the suit states.

Township officials see things differently.

"According to our understanding of the current law, we are bound by the results of the referendum," said Leslie Kohli, township administrator.

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