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Published: Wednesday, April 17, 2019 @ 8:10 AM
TURTLECREEK TWP. — Warren County has been sued again by residents upset with a development plan.
Lawyers working for Randy and Victoria Powell have filed a lawsuit against the county commissioners who approved the plan to turn the Meadow Lane Farm into a 60-home development.
The lawsuit also names the developer and neighbors selling 70 acres just north of Lebanon for the development.
The lawsuit claims the county commissioners violated the county’s open-space requirements in approving the Creek Song at Meadow Lane Farm planned development on Ohio 48, north of Lebanon Junior High School, in Turtlecreek Twp.
The complaint also claims the Feb. 12 decision by the commissioners “is unconstitutional and is arbitrary and unreasonable, and bears no relationship to the health, safety or welfare of the residents.”
The argument is similar to one made by lawyer Michael McNamee during a Feb. 5 hearing that the county was “double-dipping” by satisfying stormwater management requirements as well as part of the amount of acres to be set aside for open space.
On Feb. 12, the commissioners approved the planned-unit development proposed by builder Mike Williams on 70 acres owned by Stephen Deger and Julia Schwartz and known as Meadow Lane Farm.
The lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment setting aside the development plan.
Deger, who owns the property with his sister Schwartz, said he was surprised by the lawsuit from neighbors he said he gets along with. He also pointed out the project has been reviewed and approved by a series of governmental bodies, culminating in the county commissioners.
The plan calls for no homes up along Ohio 48, with the development on the back part of the parcel.
“My feeling is it will eventually happen and, eventually, everyone will love it,” Deger said Tuesday.
In recent years, the county has been sued by residents on Beal and Robinson-Vail roads in separate lawsuits over commercial developments in Franklin Twp.
Both were approved under the county’s conditional-use regulations in the rural zoning code.
The county prevailed in both cases, including the Beal Road one, which went to the Ohio Supreme Court.
The new lawsuit challenges the open-space rules required for approval of higher-density residential developments.
In the new lawsuit, filed on April 4, the county is represented by a prosecutor, Adam Nice, who also handles legal work for the commissioners.
On Tuesday, Assistant Warren County Prosecutor Bruce McGary briefed the commissioners on the lawsuit, filed in the common pleas court in Lebanon.
“I guess the court will decide if we interpreted our zoning code correctly or not,” McGary said.
McGary predicted Judge Robert Peeler would make a summary judgment in the county’s favor.
“We’ll get our interpretation pretty quickly,” McGary said.