March 6, 2003
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Zoning change on farm approved

Local residents Kathy and Rick Sanders will be allowed to build a house and have a couple of horses on nearly eight acres of family farmland, thanks to action by the Miami Township trustees.

After a public hearing Monday night, the trustees unanimously agreed to grant the family’s request to have a small portion of the Pitstick farm on East Enon Road rezoned from industrial to agricultural.

During the hearing the Sanders restated their desire to zone down a portion of the family property, which is owned by Kathy’s parents, Roger and Peggy Pitstick, to build a house and continue farming the rest of the land.

“There was some question that we might meet with some initial resistance from the Township board,” Kathy said after the motion was passed. “We appreciate all of our friends and neighbors who came, and we want to thank the Township for understanding.”

Several friends and neighboring landowners spoke in favor of the request at the meeting. Bonnie Hoagland, a member of the Township Zoning Commission, stressed the importance of maintaining agricultural land around Yellow Springs and also the need to respect the rights of the landowners to zone their land as they wished.

Other residents echoed these sentiments from slightly different perspectives. Yellow Springs-Fairfield Road resident Jerome Borchers, a former dairy farmer, said he moved to town a few years ago because of its commitment to land preservation. He felt the zoning change would be an opportunity to maintain some green space in the southwest part of Yellow Springs, which may eventually become developed.

Hyde Road resident Dale Amstutz spoke in favor of allowing family members who want to move back to the family farm to do so without resistance. He said landowners who chose not to develop their land but to keep it agricultural should have every opportunity to do so.

“Honestly, our decision was easy,” trustee Mark Crockett said after the meeting. “The issue of private land use is always at the front of the decision, and the process was weighted in favor of the Zoning Commission’s recommendation.”

The Zoning Commission and the Greene County Regional Planning Commission recommended last month that the land be rezoned as requested. Trustee president Chris Mucher had initial reservations about accepting the recommendations because both groups had referred to outdated and inaccurate maps when making their decisions. But Mucher said he felt confident the necessary corrections would be made.

The parcel the Sanders will build on is part of a larger plot included in the Cooperative Economic Development Agreement, which the Village and Township signed to encourage business growth in town. “The CEDA also includes farmland owned by Vernay Laboratories at the corner of East Enon and Dayton-Yellow Springs roads. The Sanders expressed concern that the parcel’s status inclusion in the CEDA could have affected the trustees’ decision.

Kathy Sanders said that though they understood their land could be part of a joint development plan, the couple made no final agreements regarding land use.

Crockett, who is also a member of Community Resources, a group that is working with the Village and Township to promote business growth, said that he didn’t anticipate any conflict of interest between the CEDA agreement and the zoning change.

“The use of the land in terms of building a home on it and keeping it farmland works well within the overall plan,” he said. “I don’t think anybody believes land for the CEDA is going to be a problem.”

With the zoning change, 32 acres of the Pitstick farm are still available for development under the CEDA.

The trustees had three to four weeks to make a final decision on the zoning request, but trustee Lamar Spracklen motioned to grant it immediately after the public comment period ended.

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In other Township business:

• Trustees agreed to extend to another three weeks the bidding time for a new equipment truck. When bids were opened at Monday’s meeting, the only correspondence the Township had received was a “no bid” from S&S Equipment Manufacturer. Fire chief Colin Altman felt confident that three weeks would be ample time to get an acceptable bid for the truck from companies that were slow to pick up the notice the first time.

• Trustees will hold a budget workshop Monday, March 10, 9 a.m., to set permanent appropriations for the Township for the year.

• Altman reported the fire department will not enroll in the small pox vaccination effort coordinated by the County health department. The threat of biological warfare was not pressing enough to warrant risking some of the side effects that could force employees to be off work for days, he said. In addition, because the treatment uses a live vaccine, workers would have to be isolated for 21 days from patients who may be immuno-compromised. Hospital officials recommend that unless there is a reason to feel at extreme risk, taking a wait-and-see approach is best, Altman said.

• Trustees agreed to purchase three radio pagers at $333 each for fire department communication.

• Altman reported that a part-time Fire-Rescue staff position has opened up because one of the volunteers left Miami Township for a full-time position with the Springfield fire department.

• Trustees agreed to donate $250 to become members of the Little Miami River Partnership, an organization that helps promote sound watershed planning and protecting the Little Miami River.

—Lauren Heaton