Land clearing along Stine Road sparks concerns

By Linda Collins Special Correspondent

May 13, 2014

MAD RIVER TOWNSHIP — A number of residents are concerned about the clearing of land and grading work on a tract of land at 6766 Stine Road.

Residents along Southern Vista Drive in the Green Meadows subdivision and in West Enon Estates turned out on Monday, May 5 to express their concerns to Mad River Township trustees.

Kathy Crager, who lives at 7053 Southern Vista Drive and whose property borders the Stine Road parcel, told trustees that township residents needed honest answers from Calvin Hahn, the owner of the property. Recent activity on the 112.06-acre parcel has raised fears among homeowners about possible residential development.

According to Crager, residents had spoken to Hahn in the winter about his plans for the property, and Hahn stated that he intended to farm the land. At that time, Hahn noted that he would be removing some of the trees and vegetation from the property but made a gentleman’s agreement with residents regarding the preservation of certain trees.

Crager explained that she and her neighbor, Pam Weaver, at 7033 Southern Vista Drive, battled the bitter, winter temperatures to label the trees located along the shared property line that they wanted to preserve. However, Crager said her husband, Keith, and she awoke May 5 to the unexpected removal of the trees by crews on the site. Crager claimed this also resulted in damage to fencing that borders their properties.

“We met with Mr. Hahn and at first, he was friendly. We expressed our wishes to save the trees on the property line, and he told us that we could mark the trees we wanted to preserve,” Crager said. “Yet, the first thing we discovered this morning was that some of the trees, which had been marked, had been cut in half.”

“Every time we talk to him (Hahn) it is a different story,” Weaver added. “In my opinion, you are only as good as your word.”

Mad River Township Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Wise was dispatched to the South Vista Drive location to mediate a dispute between Hahn and Keith (Kasey) Crager and Weaver over the removal of a tree and damage to the homeowners’ fencing. Wise reported to trustees that the dispute was a civil matter, and advised all parties involved to seek legal counseling.

Kathy Crager noted that homeowners are also concern that the proposed installation of tile could produce flooding more frequently, adding to existing drainage problems for residents.

Roger Manns, a resident of West Enon Estates, echoed Crager’s fears and stated that township trustee, Joe Catanzaro, could attest to the flooding problems that had plagued homeowners in that vicinity over the last several years.

James Hamilton, who also lives in West Enon Estates, pointed out that a residential development could cause significant changes to natural watershed conditions and an increase in surface runoff.

“We have to look at the negative impact this could have on our properties,” Hamilton said. “Now is a good time to nip it in the bud.”

Keith (Kasey) Crager also expressed his complaints about the smoke from the burn piles, which he noted rolled across the township residents’ properties, and questioned if the burning of the trees and brush were in compliance with state air quality regulations.

“There is not ample water available if the fires got out of control,” said Crager. “This could escalate into a serious situation.”

Pam Thompson, a resident of Houck Meadows, voiced her dismay over the removal of vegetation along the banks of Mud Run Creek by Hahn’s construction crew.

“Clearing the trees and brush along the banks of Mud Run will only cause erosion and harm to the environment,” Thompson noted.

Township trustee Catanzaro told the residents that the board of trustees would “stay on top” of the matter.

Trustee Kathy Estep suggested that trustees ask Hahn for information and invite him to the next township meeting. Estep noted that trustees are notified at the same time as the public regarding applications for zoning changes in the township.

“If Mr. Hahn is applying to change the land zone from farming to residential, the Clark County Zoning Commission will schedule a hearing,” said Estep. “There are also regulations regarding burning the dry wood within 1,000 feet from a residential area.”

According to trustee Bob McClure, the state has established line-fence laws that answer most questions about fencing that is placed on the division line between adjacent properties. McClure also asked Enon and Mad River Township Fire and EMS Chief Tracy Young to check into EPA laws regarding a permit to burn large piles of wood and brush.

According to the Clark County Auditor’s Office, Hillside Creek Farms LLC, a Phoenix-based corporation solely owned and operated by Hahn, purchased the Stine Road property for $850,000 in December 2013. Public records also show that Hillside Creek Farms LLC owns 22.17 acres located at 5779 Enon-Xenia Road and in June 2012, purchased 7.4436 acres, located on Enon-Xenia Road, for $22,500.