Proposed Washington Twp. housing project stalled

Another residential development proposed at the former senior center site in Washington Twp. is being met with stiff opposition from neighboring residents in what’s been an on-going saga to turn the site into a park instead.

Tom Peebles of Sugarcreek Twp.-based Peebles Homes has proposed a 35-home subdivision at the 15-acre site of the former Hithergreen Senior Center.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Neighbors voice opposition to proposed assisted living facility

The development, which would feature homes between $200,000 and $400,000 on quarter-acre plots of land, was denied approval by the township zoning commission.

Zoning commission members agreed they were concerned about the project’s density.

EARLIER: Former Hithergreen Center center faces new neighborhood debate

“The density—being that it doesn’t meet, even the minimum of the land development residential standards—I think is an issue,” Zoning Commission Member Matthew Franklin, said. “It’s truly out of character for the neighborhood itself.”

The senior center moved from 5900 Hithergreen Dr. to the Washington Twp.’s Rec West building at 965 Miamisburg-Centerville Rd. in 2014. Before operating as a senior center, the building stood as a middle school for more than 50 years.

Pam Jones, who lives behind the proposed development on Deauville Drive, echoed the sentiments of residents who want to see a park on the property.

“Ideally, I think this should be the Centerville-Washington Twp. Park District’s 51st park. That was the vision by our founders,” she said. “We’re being asked to sacrifice the charm, character and beauty of this lovely neighborhood. Is it our responsibility as citizens of Hithergreen, especially those opposed to the zoning, to ensure Mr. Peebles makes more money?”

Resident Brian Feldmeyer, referred to a photo of the township organizational chart with “citizens” sitting atop the chart to make his argument.

“If that’s the way it is, the citizens need to be heard and this needs to be washed out,” he said.

Neighbors voiced opposition in 2015 to plans to turn the property into a memory care facility targeted. The applicant — Chapel Development — removed its applications from consideration before the zoning commission had the opportunity to vote on it.

The zoning commission’s denial of Peebles’ request does not spell the end for the development.

The zoning commission acts as a recommendation board, according to Zoning Manager Ryan Lee. The subdivision could still move forward. Peebles is scheduled to present the same plans to township trustees Sept. 11.

“It’s a process like anything else,” Peebles said. “We will take all their comments into consideration and go on to the next meeting.”

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Peebles said he doesn’t know if changing his plans to account for a less dense plan would be economically feasible.

“It’s a situation where I have land costs, development costs on the project. It all has to make economic sense, otherwise it doesn’t work,” he said.

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