Residents share concerns about development with township trustees


By Amanda Ensinger
Staff Writer

At a recent Prairie Township board meeting, residents expressed concern about residential development, asking leaders what they are going to do to protect the environment.

“There are new houses being built on small lots and trees are being cut down to build these houses,” said Debra Kurtz, township resident. “This is eliminating green space. Why did the zoning commission allow this?”

Kurtz also questioned if the trustees had oversight of the zoning commission and if there is a way to stop the board from issuing variances.

According to Prairie Township Administrator Dave McAninch, the board appoints the members of the zoning commission and board of zoning appeals. The trustees do not usually attend those meetings.

“If a piece of land is considered residential, then the owners have the right to make changes to their property like cutting down trees,” said Prairie Township trustee Cathy Schmelzer.

Trustee Rod Pritchard added that it is inevitable the township will have zoning variances.

“We need to show up to make sure they understand the problem behind clearing the lot,” Pritchard said. “Green space is often required in residential areas, but in this instance, they can’t tell a property owner to put in green space.”

Pritchard also said a lot of developers are looking for properties to renovate to resell.

Residents said they are concerned about future growth and potential gentrification.

“I’m very familiar with gentrification and have experience in working through that,” Pritchard said.

Residents wanted assurances that the township would not let local neighborhoods become overrun with new development.

The trustees listened to the concerns but did not take formal action.

McAninch however, did ask the board to approve and sign a letter addressing the proposed Darby Crossing Project at 6145 West Broad St. in Galloway.

“This proposed project presents several potential issues for Prairie Township and its residents,” McAninch said. “This includes the already significant flooding and storm water drainage issues on Alton Road, Elnora Drive and Tamara Avenue. It also presents issues for the fire department and emergency responders who cannot access homes properly due to the flooding issues.”

In the letter, the township requested that Darby Crossing GP, LLC be required to implement and maintain proper storm water drainage, as well as proper screening, buffering and mitigation of lighting to protect nearby residential properties.


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