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Housing

On Tuesday, Nov. 9, Miamisburg-based Oberer Land Developers came before Planning Commission to rezone their 52-acre property on the southern end of Yellow Springs as a planned unit development, or PUD. This new designation would allow Oberer to develop 140 units in their proposed Birch Creek neighborhood, including townhomes, duplexes and single-family homes.

Extended Coverage | Planning Commission sends Oberer plans to Village Council

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Plans for a new development in Yellow Springs are moving forward.

At its Tuesday, Nov. 9, regular meeting, held via Zoom, Village Planning Commission approved a conditional use application submitted by Oberer Land Developers to rezone 52.6 acres in southern Yellow Springs to accommodate a 140-unit residential neighborhood.

Oberer looks to build 64 single-family homes, 30 three-bedroom duplex units, 22 two-bedroom duplex units and seven townhome buildings totaling 24 units. The proposed neighborhood is located north of East Hyde Road and west of Spillan Road.

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The Miamisburg-based company came before the commission to designate its privately owned land as a planned unit development, or PUD, to accommodate this variety of dwelling units rather than exclusively single-family homes.

“[Oberer] could and is willing to go forward with a single-family development on our property, and we would not need a rezoning to do so,” Oberer developer Greg Smith said at the meeting.
“We’re here tonight because after many discussions with the Village, we think a cooperative planned unit development would be a better option for all parties,” Smith added.

Village officials have been working with Oberer on this development plan since the company purchased the property from Ken and Betheen Struewing last November for $1,715,000. Earlier this year, the Greene County Board of Commissioners granted an annexation petition from Oberer to incorporate the entirety of the land into village limits. Prior to the annexation, 33 acres of the total 52 acres were in Miami Township.

“If [the land] hadn’t been annexed, it would have been developed in the township anyway,” said Planning Commission Chair Frank Doden during the meeting.

As it’s currently zoned, the land could not accommodate Oberer’s proposed mixture of dwelling units. Presently, 13 of the 15 parcels in the proposed development area are zoned R-A, or low-density residential; one parcel is zoned R-C, or high density residential; and one is zoned PUD.

By a vote of 5–0, commission members approved Oberer’s application to rezone the entire property to a PUD designation, but with some modifications. Among those were changes to the proposed outdoor lighting fixtures throughout the development, and a request that the development’s eventual homeowner’s association align their rules with the Village’s Code of Ordinances.

Council is set to give a first reading and public hearing to Ordinance 2021-35 to rezone the property and to amend the zoning map to thereby approve the preliminary development plan during its Monday, Dec. 6 regular meeting.

Council’s second reading and public hearing of the ordinance will take place Monday, Dec. 20.

Birch Creek

The development, which Oberer has dubbed “Birch Creek,” will cluster homes throughout the proposed neighborhood by unit type. The three-bedroom and two-bedroom duplexes will be situated on their own unit-specific cul-de-sacs in the southwestern corner of the neighborhood. The single-family units will occupy the northwestern and southeastern sections, with the townhomes near the center.

In the northeast corner of the neighborhood are nearly two acres that Oberer plans to donate to the Village to develop for affordable housing.

“Oberer will not play a direct role — at least not initially — on how that acreage is used,” Smith explained. “The Village will control that affordable housing area.”

While price points for homes have not yet been established for the proposed neighborhood, Smith said single-family homes between 1,450 and 3,700 square feet built by Oberer in other communities have started at $330,000.

In addition to the physical infrastructure, Oberer intends to establish a homeowners association for the proposed neighborhood. As stated in the application submitted to Planning Commission, the homeowners association would maintain common areas, set and uphold expectations of property maintenance and preserve the value of homes. All property owners in the neighborhood will automatically become members of the association and will be granted voting rights when making neighborhood-based decisions.

Doden raised concerns over the proposed homeowners association, citing village residents’ occasionally eccentric approach to home decoration and yard maintenance.

“We recognize this is a unique community that will require some unique regulations,” Smith responded.

According to the plans, 23% of the Birch Creek development will be reserved for open, recreational and green spaces. This includes park space that will feature playground equipment that Oberer intends to donate to the Village for public use.

Whereas Smith believes Oberer will likely provide a swingset, a multi-purpose play gym and several park benches, he said Oberer intends to work with the Village to pick out exactly what equipment is incorporated into the park.

The development will also feature two detention ponds with fountains — one behind a cluster of single-family units near the central area of the development, and the other abutting Hyde Road — and a constructed wetland for stormwater retention, located in the southwest corner.

“We think [the constructed wetland] is a creative idea to resolve some stormwater coming off the site, as opposed to a [third] pond,” Smith said. “It will treat the stormwater … and create an open space, a little bit of habitat and provide space for some nice plantings to make it an attractive backyard for some of the duplexes.”

According to Oberer’s application, consultations with Village Public Works Director Johnnie Burns led developers to conclude that the Village has the capacity to provide sewer, water and electricity to the proposed neighborhood. All of the utilities will be underground.

The application stated that the overall layout of the main thoroughfare was influenced by an existing sanitary sewer line trunk that cuts through the middle of the property running south from Southgate Avenue and then east to Spillan Road.

Smith said Oberer hopes to begin construction in spring of next year and start to sell homes later in the summer. Smith projects Oberer will finish development after five or six years of construction.

Neighborhood traffic

Oberer contracted Choice One Engineering Corporation, a civil engineering company from Sidney, to analyze the traffic impact of the proposed development. A study on the existing traffic conditions was conducted over several weeks earlier this fall.

“What we found was that this area of Yellow Springs does not have a traffic problem now, and it will not have a traffic problem when Oberer is done with its development,” Smith said.

In total, Oberer will construct five new roads throughout the neighborhood. Southgate Avenue will be extended southward and will serve as the central thoroughfare.

The neighborhood would have two entry/exit points: Southgate Avenue and Spillan Road. Smith said drivers headed south would likely exit the neighborhood by way of Spillan, turning west on Hyde Road and then left onto State Route 68 to continue southbound. Most drivers going north would exit the neighborhood by continuing north on Southgate Avenue, turning left on Kahoe Lane and then turning right on 68.

“We do not see a lot of people making trips back through the [existing] neighborhoods,” Smith said. “There really isn’t a large destination point to the east that would drive traffic through the existing roads.”

The study concluded that the development would generate an estimated 1,400 vehicular trips during a typical weekday, with 100 trips during the peak traffic hour in the morning, and 130 trips during the peak traffic hour in the evening.

Choice One investigated the impact of these proposed trips on nearby intersections and found that the added delay of time on these intersections to be three to seven seconds in 2032 — the year when Oberer believes the neighborhood’s traffic flow will be in full swing. Smith said the “worst case scenario” would be a potential delay of nine seconds at the most heavily trafficked intersections.

“Based on these results, the study found that no turn lanes or other intersection improvements were needed or warranted due to the proposed subdivision,” Smith said.

Additionally, Oberer intends to incorporate narrow road designs in the neighborhood to encourage slower traffic.

Public concerns

Over a dozen local residents spoke during the public hearing portion of the Planning Commission meeting, many of whom expressed concerns over the lasting implications of creating the new neighborhood and what it might mean for the future of Yellow Springs.

Local resident and Planning Commission member Sarah Sinclair-Amend, who recused herself from the discussion and vote, submitted a letter stating that the increased flow in traffic was a threat to safety.

“Nothing should go forward without a set plan and funding to address safety and walkability,” Sinclair-Amend wrote. “My children’s safety should not be sacrificed for some developer to make more net profits.”

Max Crome, a local architect, was critical of Oberer’s intentions behind rezoning their property to a PUD, and stated that the new designation would allow the company to develop the neighborhood without much oversight.

“They’re saving the hassle of having to apply for each application and the hassle of evaluating each site individually,” Crome said. “We’re giving up the ability to control the look and the feel of the development. We need to guard the culture of this village.”

Echoing Crome’s concerns regarding the effect the Birch Creek neighborhood would have on the local culture, village resident Lindsay Burke spoke critically of the development plans.

“I think development will be a huge driver for gentrification,” she said. “This is not a good fit and in keeping with the character of Yellow Springs.”

Similarly, resident Matthew Kirk expressed skepticism on Oberer’s preliminary research into the culture and traditional architectural stylings of Yellow Springs.

“A lot of people look at a development like this and say, ‘This does not match what in my head I think of when I think of Yellow Springs,’” Kirk said. “It reminds me of your standard, more modern, suburban development.”

Anna Burke talked about the potential impact on wildlife.

“It’s my strong opinion that this development will completely wipe out any remaining wildlife sanctuary space that has been provided so far,” Burke said. “It’s something that will literally disappear if this development goes in.”

Emily Seibel, the executive director of YS Home, Inc., said that the proposed neighborhood would lead to “a less balanced market with persisting affordable housing needs for many residents.”

Speaking on behalf of YS Home, Inc., Seibel said she appreciates Oberer including a Village-owned affordable housing section in the neighborhood, but she called for developers to do more in the way of accommodating low- to moderate-income families.

“We urge a renewed focus on advancing lasting affordable housing through this project and beyond,” Seibel said. “While this project generates much needed revenue for the Village and schools, it will also have an impact on our market for years to come.”

Upon the closing of the public hearing section of the meeting, Smith responded to some of the criticisms leveled against the proposed project and reminded detractors that their intention at the meeting was to rezone their property to a PUD.

“The properties are currently zoned R-A, which permits single-family homes. If our recommendation for a PUD is turned down, we already own the land and we will proceed forward with a single-family home subdivision,” Smith said.

At the conclusion of the three-and-a-half hour meeting, Planning Commission members unanimously approved Oberer’s application to rezone the property. Next, during its upcoming regular meeting on Monday, Dec. 6, Village Council will vote on whether to amend the existing zoning map to accommodate Planning Commission’s recommendation.

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