Springfield Township has reneged on its agreement that this property be dedicated as a park or recreation area that is open to the public. The proposed development plan contravenes the primary purpose for which the property was purchased in the first place.
In 1998, an article appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer detailing negotiations between the Cincinnati Park Board and Springfield Township over the Warder property.
The primary stipulation is that the area not be developed into something other than a park. The township has said it would develop the 42 acres into both playing fields and green space, possibly with hiking trails.
Trustee Joseph Honerlaw said the area will be developed with a mixed use in mind, with both recreational and green space.
“I think it’s a win-win for both us and the park board,” Mr. Honerlaw said. “It will improve recreational opportunities for all township citizens.”
The park was ultimately purchased in 2000, plans were supposedly developed over the next few years, and then scrapped due to “fiscal concerns.”
In 2011, the township adopted a new Master Plan, detailing development and economic plans for all neighborhoods throughout the township. Included in this large plan was a Core Development Plan which discussed plans for developing Warder Park.
A meeting was held on December 14, 2015 to discuss the planned development at the Warder site.
This whole scheme is a clear bait-and-switch. To garner support from residents for the purchase, the trustees baited township residents with the promise of a park. Now they are showing what their true intentions were all along – commercial development.
The development violates the terms of the deed that conveyed the land to Springfield Township.
The deed that transferred the subject property to the Township anticipated that the land would be used for park and/or recreational purposes.
Under the deed, the Township was required to develop and implement a Park Plan for the property for its use as a park and recreational site and it was prohibited from constructing any building on the site except for those needed to facilitate the property as a park and recreation site.
The Township did not develop and certainly did not implement a Park Plan for the property. Since the property was transferred to the Township, it has never made this property open to the public. On the contrary, it has posted “no trespassing-authorized personnel only” signs on the property!
Even if the proposed development doesn’t technically violate the conditions set forth in the deed, it certainly violates the intent and spirit of the transaction.
Parks and open space contribute to an increase in property values of nearby homes.
Scholarly studies consistently have shown that parks and open space contribute to an increase in property values of homes that are located near the green space.
A 2001 survey by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed:
- 57 percent of respondents would choose a home close to parks and open space over one that was not near such space; and
- 50 percent would pay 10 percent more for a house located near a park or protected open space (source).
Parks and open space generate economic benefits to local governments through higher property values and correspondingly higher tax assessments (source).
If Springfield Township would agree to make Warder Park accessible to the public and allow it to be used as a park and recreational area, it would greatly increase home values near the park and attract new residents to the area.
The proposed development, which would allow for multi-family development (apartments) and commercial and office uses, will bring changes that will disrupt the existing neighborhoods and create additional expenses for the township.
Developing Warder Park as proposed by the developer and the township will bring traffic congestion, noise, degraded aesthetics, and other unwanted changes to the neighborhoods and residents who live near this property.
Building multi-family housing on the subject property could lower the value of existing single-family houses in the neighborhoods.
Developing the subject property as apartments and/or as office and commercial uses will create more government expenses for Springfield Township than using the land as a park or green space.
The only reason the developer has agreed not to develop the existing ponds, streams, and wetlands at Warder Park is because it would be very expensive to develop these environmentally sensitive areas.
The developer of the subject property is not developing the environmentally sensitive areas of this tract — such as wetlands, existing ponds, and streams – because it would be extremely expensive to develop these areas.
If the developer touched these areas, it would be required by U.S. EPA regulations, as implemented by the Ohio EPA, to ensure that the development impacts to these wetlands and streams were mitigated.
A developer can undertake wetland mitigation by purchasing credits at an approved wetland mitigation bank, paying a fee to an approved in-lieu fee program, or implementing a developer-responsible mitigation plan, which could include wetland restoration, wetland enhancement, or wetland preservation. (See http://www.epa.ohio.gov/dsw/401/mitigation.aspx for more information.)
In Ohio, the cost of credits that a developer must pay to a wetland mitigation bank when it disturbs a wetlands area ranges from about $20,000 to $65,000 per acre, depending on a number of factors.