Written by JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN Sentinel County Editor
Wednesday, 05 December 2012 10:33
After reading a page full of platting deficiencies and listening to a room full of concerned neighbors, the Wood County Planning Commission unanimously denied approval of subdivision plans to expand the Williamsburg on the River housing development.
The subdivision proposal for 48 single family lots on 49 acres was presented Tuesday evening by William E. Moll, of W.E. Moll Engineers. The addition would cover the remaining undeveloped land in the Williamsburg subdivision located in Washington Township where Ohio 235 and Ohio 65 meet at the Maumee River.
The Williamsburg on the River subdivision is one of the older, more established housing developments in Wood County. Development began in the 1960s, and no major building has occurred there in the last decade, according to Dave Steiner, director of the county planning commission.
The area has sewer service provided by the Northwestern Water and Sewer District and water from the village of Grand Rapids. Both water and sewer have the capacity to serve the additional homes.
However, concerns were expressed by Steiner about the plat proposal which was riddled with errors and unanswered questions.
For example, the plat did not define the acreage of required green space in the development, access to some homes from Route 235 may not be permitted by ODOT, portions of some lots are in floodplains, some rear lot lines extend into a lake, and the plan does not specify if all the homes will be single-family dwellings.
Even more concerns were expressed by current residents of Williamsburg, who showed up en masse at the meeting.
Roland Southand, who spoke on behalf of the Williamsburg on the River Homeowners Association, said one of the primary issues is the stormwater. The subdivision surrounds lake areas, with two dams and a delicate balance of drainage and retention. The water levels are already carefully monitored, and cannot handle the additional stormwater, according to Southand.
"We're very concerned about our dam. We don't want to top our dam," he said.
Southand also questioned a traffic pattern for the extended development which would run a street next to the subdivision's playground.
Another resident, Joe Westmeyer Jr., said he moved to Williamsburg 25 years ago because of the open water.
"I bought the place because it had a lake where my kids could play," he said.
However, the subdivision has been plagued with flooding issues and leaking basements which would only worsen with extended development.
"This is going to put too much burden on the lake," Westmeyer said.
Westmeyer also questioned the vague plans submitted by Moll.
"He can play with it all he wants. There's nothing recorded that we can rely on," he said. "As a property owner, I oppose it."
Another resident, Karen Higgins, shared the fears that existing homeowners will pay for the addition through costly flood damage and algae problems.
She referred to the small-looking lots that would diminish the "country ambiance" of Williamsburg on the River.
Moll tried to respond to some of the concerns. He told Steiner the new lake proposed with an island in it does meet the county's "green space" requirements. He also said the lake would be adequate for the drainage. Moll said he had not yet spoken with ODOT about access off Route 235.
Residents said when they purchased their homes, they had no idea an expansion of the development was planned.
However, Moll said the addition was proposed from the beginning, with ample utilities and stub streets in place for years.
"For somebody to say they had no idea this would ever be developed," does not make sense, Moll said.
Prior to denying the proposal, planning commission member Tony Allion suggested that a poorly designed plan should not be approved.
"I think it's a good idea that we do it right," he said.
The developer may resubmit a revised proposal for the site to the county planning commission.