Committee challenging zoning ordinance

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BROOKVILLE — A group of residents who have formed a political action committee, are gathering signatures from city residents in order to place a referendum on the November ballot that could stop the city’s proposed development of 85.611 acres of recently annexed Clay Township land on Upper Lewisburg-Salem Road.

The group, who call themselves “Brookville Citizens for Keep It Rural,” are collecting signatures from registered voters who live in the city so that the fate of the annexed land will rest with registered city voters.

Council, through ordinance 2024-07, is proposing that approximately 27.465 acres of the land situated at the front of the annexed land be zoned as General Business District.

Council proposes to zone the remaining 58.146 acres as R-1A.

Council plans to place both the General Business District and the R-1A zoning under a Planned Unit Development Overlay District, so council and the city can have control on how the land will be developed.

Council’s plan for the land, located across from the Brookville Fire Station, has received criticism from numerous city residents. Criticism of the plan has also been levied by residents of Clay and Perry townships.

Their concerns center on their belief that the path council is taking toward the development of the city is seriously affecting the “small town and rural charm” they say is the mainstay of the Brookville area.

Feeling council is ignoring their concerns, the political action committee is making the efforts to place the referendum on the November ballot for city residents to decide the issue.

“We are seeking signatures from Brookville city limit residents who are registered voters to sign the petition. This will allow city residents to vote for or against the zoning the city council has approved for the annexed land…” information provided by the group to the Register-Herald stated.

“More rooftops is not what the majority of city residents prefer. This has been made clear in many ways,” the information stated.

The information stated the “Keep It Rural” initiative in Brookville “represents a community-driven effort to shape the development and growth within the City of Brookville in a manner that preserves the rural land of the surrounding areas.”

The information stated the group is focusing on several issues that will affect future growth of the city.

The issues include:

political advocacy: “advocate for community members to have an active role in shaping the future of the city. Ensure that development decisions align with the collective vision of our community that’s dedicated to maintaining its rural identity and protecting the local environment. Encourage transparency and responsiveness from city officials.”

progressive and sustainable growth: “we believe in the importance of sustainable growth, ensuring that any development aligns with the values and needs of the community. It emphasizes the balance between progress and conservation, advocating for development plans that are both progressive and mindful of the existing landscape and lifestyle.”

Small town and rural charm: “we seek to be a voice for residents who wish to see their community thrive without losing its rural charm. Our efforts reflect a deep-seated appreciation for local heritage and a desire to maintain the unique identity of Brookville amidst the pressures of expansion and modernization.”

high quality schools: “we believe that small town schools offer a unique advantage that contributes to a positive and supportive learning environment. The benefits of smaller classrooms in educational settings are many and particularly evident within a small-town school district. With a lower student-to-teacher ratio, educators can offer more personalized attention, ensuring that each student’s unique learning needs are met. This fosters an inclusive social environment where students feel seen and heard, contributing to their overall well-being and academic success. Tailored learning opportunities become a reality, rather than a challenge, allowing for a curriculum that adapts to individual strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, the strong sense of community identity and engagement in small town schools often translates into a supportive network for students, enhancing their educational experience. The excellent college placement rates are a testament to the efficacy of this approach, as students are well-prepared for higher education and beyond.”

Council on May 21 approved a motion declaring a moratorium for any future annexations for the next 18 months.

The moratorium motion was requested by mayor Chuck Letner as a result of comments from city and township residents who voiced concerns with the potential development of the Upper Lewisburg-Salem Road property at the May 7 public hearing on the zoning classification of the property, in addition to the expressed concerns by citizens of other potential developments in the city.

“After listening to our citizens – not only in Brookville, but our townships – we’ve heard the concerns and we’ve taken it all under consideration,” Letner said at the May 21 council meeting.

Letner said the moratorium is warranted as the city goes through the process of updating its current comprehensive land use plan.

“Our last comprehensive land use plan, adopted in 2003, is kind of at its end,” Letner said, adding the plan was a 20-year project.

“We’re in the process of doing another comprehensive land use project through the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission. We want to go through the process of having the new comprehensive land use study done,” Letner continued.

Council is also meeting with the Brookville Local Schools board of education in a work session to discuss future housing development in the city and its potential affect on student enrollment.

The work session is scheduled Thursday, Aug. 15, at 6:30 p.m. at the school district’s administrative building at 75 June Place.

Reach Terry Baver at [email protected].

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