April 24, 2003
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Planning Commission public hearing—
Hull Court neighbors bring concerns over development

Plan of the proposed residential development on Hull Court, a three-acre parcel off Xenia Avenue between Herman and Allen Streets.

At Planning Commission’s April 14 meeting, neighbors of a proposed residential development on Hull Court brought their concerns about the plan to a public hearing. Stormwater drainage and tree removal were two of the biggest concerns neighbors raised about the plans by local architect and builder Ted Donnell of Axis Architecture for the ten-house single family plat on a three-acre parcel off Xenia Avenue between Herman and Allen Streets.

After sometimes heated discussion, commission members tabled the issue for a later date to provide more opportunity for public comment at a special meeting scheduled for Monday, April 28.

Donnell’s proposed drainage system involves siphoning water into a soil area to the rear of the development that will naturally hold water because of its sandy, pervious quality, he said.

“In lieu of detaining the water, we’re collecting it and putting it in the soil,” Donnell said at the meeting. “There should not be any water collecting at all; the process is peculiar to this site.”

Though commission chair John Struewing assured residents that the Village engineer had reviewed the drainage plan, several people still had concerns. Hull Court neighbor David Hergesheimer asked if the drainage area would be large enough for ten houses. Arnold Pence, whose farm abuts the retention area to the west, expressed concern about excess water seeping onto his property. Two other Hull Street neighbors, Tom Kumbusky and Village Zoning Inspector Richard Zopf, said that neither of them had ever found anything but top soil and clay in the digging they had done in the area.

“I’ve never witnessed this magic area of percolation,” Zopf said.

Zopf also said the water system may need maintenance because of the flat bottom detention area where water could stagnate and prevent mowing.

Donnell restated that he had confidence in the plans, which were developed by local engineer John Eastman. Struewing assured residents that no more water than usual would be discharged onto surrounding properties.

“The Village has spent a lot of money to assure that the water won’t be a problem for you,” he said, addressing the developments’ neighbors.

Water retention in the area has long been an issue, said Earl Hull, whose family has for several generations owned the property to be developed. But he said it was time to finally develop the property.

Neighbors also had questions about the number of trees that would remain on the development site.

In a letter concerning the vegetation of Hull Court, local landscape architect Roger Beal wrote that the site’s existing trees were densely matted with invasive, nonnative euonymus and honeysuckle vines and shrubs that were “preventing any ‘natural progression of a wood lot.” He also wrote that the existing trees were largely black locusts, an “alley cat” tree best for fill and highway strips.

“The volunteer thicket contains no real trees of landscape value,” Beal wrote. He recommended the perimeter trees be kept just for “mass” and “buffering.” Current plans involve removing trees at the bottom of the property basin and maintaining a tree line along the edge of the property, Donnell said

Neighbors also raised concerns about parking for visitors, increased stopped traffic along an already busy street, the width of the roadway into the plat and issues of contractual obligations.

Toward the beginning of the meeting, Donnell expressed frustration over the untimeliness of information distribution and therefore the delay in his ability to move forward with the project. He and another developer, former Yellow Springs resident Jim Alt, tried unsuccessfully to develop the Hull Court area two years ago.

“It’s frustrating to be mandated to supply information at such great detail that it costs so much to prepare before you know if it’s a valid risk,” he said Monday. “Yellow Springs is different from other communities; our zoning is written according to a no growth policy.”

The extension of discussion and public comment periods will give all parties involved more time to review both the development plans and the site plan reviews by the Village’s engineer and solicitor, Struewing said.

The plans still have to go through two Village Council readings and then be approved by several other public agencies, Donnell said. He said if things move smoothly, he hopes to break ground sometime in August. Six of the lots are unofficially spoken for, he said, and he would like to get started before the winter.

* * *

In other plan board business:

• The Ohio Department of Transportation awarded the village a $14,750 grant to complete a traffic study on U.S. 68, employing the services of Frank Douglas of TEC Engineering and Roger Beal of Yellow Springs Design. The study will focus on the 1.5 mile segment of Xenia Avenue from Kahoe Lane to Cemetery Street and aims to reduce the road’s accident rate.

By studying the volume, speed and kind of traffic on Xenia Avenue, the study should be able to make recommendations that could improve the route as a safer, more efficient and less polluting roadway, Douglas said. Researchers will take a close look at pedestrian safety in the business district downtown and major crossings near the school and the bike path.

Douglas also said the study should take no longer than three months and that the results would be completed and approved by Sept. 30.

—Lauren Heaton