Delaware News

Nixed zoning request won't stop Dominion

Berlin Township says 'no' to plan for 26 houses, but builder will go forward with 22-home scheme

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Although a Berlin Township board rejected its rezoning request last week, Dominion Homes officials said the company still plans to build homes on a property off Africa Road.

The township's Zoning Commission at its meeting Tuesday, April 8, voted 3-1 against Dominion's request for a change from farm residential to planned residential district at 3791 Africa Road. The Dublin-based firm presented a plan to build 26 houses on the 27.34-acre site -- two houses fewer than a plan it presented to the township in February.

Commission member Jerry Valentine, who voted against the rezoning, said he was disappointed Dominion's new plan looked so similar in density to its previous one.

"I didn't see much change at all," he said. "For the length of time it took between the two, I was a little discouraged."

Dominion Homes representative Steve Peck told the board that it would not make sense to reduce the density any further and still push for the zoning change. He said the company already could build 22 houses using the site's current zoning.

Dominion could move forward with that plan without the commission's approval as long as the company builds the homes within current farm residential zoning guidelines.

"We're going forward either way," Peck said.

Peck said the 22-house plan would feature less open and green space and looser regulations on what future homeowners could do with their property.

"You lose the buffers, you lose the tree preservation on the back of the lots (and) you lose all the regulating authority (the changes) give the township and the homeowners association to control what happens on these lots," he said.

Commission Chairwoman Toni Korleski cast the lone vote in favor of the zoning change. She said she still had concerns about the density of the project, but she thought the layout and buffering of the 26-house plan was more appropriate than the alternative.

"I feel that's much better than the (22-house plan), even though a lot of people disagree with that," she said.

A near-capacity crowd at Berlin Township Hall offered no support for the planned development or the zoning change. Several residents suggested Dominion was threatening to build a less-attractive development if the zoning change was not approved.

Plumb Road resident Clint Warner said Dominion had not made any significant concessions to the site's neighbors.

"This is a disgrace," he said. "It hasn't changed at all."

Africa Road homeowner Charles Boster said he thought the density of the development made it "totally inconsistent" with the area.

"I think some consideration has to be given to the residents who have lived here and moved into this area," he said.

Africa Road resident Larry Harmon asked the crowd: "Is anybody in this room particularly excited about this proposal?"

No one responded affirmatively.

Despite the crowd's objections, Peck said Dominion will move forward with the 22-house plan. He said he expected Delaware County would give the builder the go-ahead shortly after plans are submitted.

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