Friday, October 29, 2004

The Suburbanization of Dearborn County

Citizens of Dearborn County Beware! The suburbanization of the County is coming and you will pay for it.

Over a year ago, our “Realtor” Commissioner stood in front of a group of citizens of her district and the proposed sewer district and repeatedly stated the sewer district was not about development. Even when questioned about the Gabbard estate, she reiterated is was not about development. The sewer district was to “help?’ the citizens.

Early this year the newly appointed board of the Dearborn County Sewer District also indicated it was not about development. They even indicted they would stop all development until the sewer system was in place. The system was to be designed for the approximately 300 homes in that part of the district, with a 20 percent (60 homes) growth allowance for the expected expansion in the next twenty years.

The current planning from the District indicates it is $2,000,000 over budget and will cost the residents of the District approximately $70 to $75 a month.

Monday night, at the Dearborn County Plan Commission meeting, the first phase of the Stonebrook Subdivision on the old Gabbard estate was all but approved. It seems the Dearborn County Sewer District Board with the help of Lisa Lehner, Dearborn County Attorney, and Vera Benning, Special Consultant to the Board, are all but tripping over themselves in their rush to sign a contract to provide sewer service to the developer, Ralph Meierjohan, Ameritek Custom Homes, Cincinnati, OH.

The first phase of the subdivision will include about 120 homes, or twice the total spare capacity of the system. The remainder of the estate was allegedly not yet in planning for development. However, the developer in addition to the notation for future development on the remainder of the estate, is acquiring the adjoining Conaway estate. This will not only add 43 acres, but also provide access to both Huesman and Mt. Tabor Roads for additional entrances to the subdivision. This could easily double or triple the number of houses to be added.

The Realtor for the Conaway estate is Bret Fehrman, Fehrman Realty (see his signs on the property) and Bret was allegedly instrumental in the sale of the Gabbard estate. By the way, Mr. Fehrman is a member of the very sewer district board that is rushing to contract with the developer to provide the public sewer service needed to develop the property.

Impact fees were proposed to the Board to have the developers pay for a substantial cost of development, especially since the District was not about development. This proposal was tabled by the Board.

In the Planning meeting, the Plan Commission obtained from the school district an approximate cost of $27,000 just for school bus service to the subdivision. Since there are no mechanisms for impact fees, there is no way to cover any of this cost. The $27,000 does not include the cost of educating an average 2.3 students per house (at approximately $5,500 per year) expected to populate the subdivision. Nor, does it include the cost to provide building space for the additional 275 students added by just the first phase. Nor, fire, police and EMS service.

The developer will initially build the roads, but, once they are turned over to the County, the County will have to pay to maintain them. Plus, there is the increased costs for utility providers. Didn’t Aurora Utilities just increase the monthly water bill to pay for a new water tower near the high school, to among other things help supply water to the new loads in that direction?

If you think the new residents of the subdivision will pay enough taxes to cover all these expenses, guess again. The proposed house cost mentioned at the meeting Monday night was around $180,000. The real estate taxes for such houses will not even cover the cost to educate one student for a year, much less all the real costs of supporting the subdivision. Other taxpayers will have to make up the difference or services will have to be reduced.

Several candidates for County Council have pointed out in their campaigns, the negative impact of residential development in the County and the need for Industrial development to balance the tax burden. What we are seeing is more of this negative.

The citizens of the District are being forced to pay for the very development they may not want. They will also be forced to suffer all the negative aspects of the development, such as, overcrowded schools, stretched school budgets, stretched highway maintenance budgets, the increased traffic on US 50 (phase I will add approximately 250 autos a day), increased runoff from hard surfaces, urbanization of rural neighborhoods and increased utility costs. One neighbor of the new subdivision stated in the Monday meeting, that they had moved from Greendale to obtain the rural setting, where they just finished building a new home. Now, they will soon have a subdivision at the back of their property, bringing noise and light pollution and destruction of the ecology to a beautiful rural area.

Our government has misled us about “not about development” from the beginning. Our “Realtor” Commissioner is not serving the citizens of her District or the County. She is working to help the Developers and Realtors get rich at the expense of the citizens of the County.

She is already openly boasting, that in January, when Mr. Fox and Mr. Hughes are elected (Candidates supported by the developers and supporting “property owners rights), she will control the County. She plans to repeal the newly enacted Master Plan for the County and continue to foster the development of the County, just as she has been doing, at the expense of the citizens of Dearborn County. Apparently “property owners rights” means the right of large property owners to sell for the highest price to any developer in total disregard for their neighbors and in addition, have their neighbors help pay for the development they may not want.

In addition to the sewer district along US 50, there are four more sewer districts in planning. They are along highways from the Aurora/ Lawrenceburg area outward, State Route 1, Highway 350, Highway 48 and around the New Alsace area. There are four more opportunities for our “Realtor” Commissioner to have the citizens of the County pay for the Developers and Realtors to get rich.

The only way to change this, is to let your voice be heard. Vote for responsible Commissioners. Write and call your Commissioners and State Congressmen. Tell them what you want. Tell them you want a recall law to be able to stop out of control public officials. Tell them to control development and impose impact fees. Get involved in the process, or just sit back and let the Developers and Realtors get rich at your expense and turn rural Dearborn County into another congested Hamilton County, Butler County, Warren County.

Ralph E. Thompson, Jr., PE, CPE, NSPE

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