Tensions have been mounting in the Haaf Farms subdivision in Violet Township as residents seek a a way to prevent a connector route, which they say would dramatically change their neighborhood.
At issue is a proposed development by Homewood Corp. in Etna Township, Licking County, called "The Preserve at Haaf Farms."
Forty-one lots on approximately 44.8 acres are being built there by Homewood.
The developer is planning to connect to the Haaf Farms subdivision in Violet Township by extending Etna Township's Georgian Drive S.W. to Violet Township's Sunladen Drive.
Residents of Haaf Farms in Violet Township, also developed by Homewood, said they fear the thoroughfare extension will lead to traffic and safety issues.
Many have expressed concerns the connection will function as a cut-through of their neighborhood by customers seeking an easier route to a Wal-Mart store in Reynoldsburg as well by drivers who will simply want to avoid a routinely congested state Route 256.
"Our property values will also drastically drop," said Matt Rittman, a resident of Haaf Farms.
Rittman said the homes being built in Etna Township are cheaper than those in Haaf Farms, which he said sell in the price range of $270,000 to $350,000.
"(Homewood) is trying to say these new homes will match the (prices) in Haaf Farms, but I think it's a kind of a 'bait and switch' because they have a different school system and zoning (criteria)," Rittman said.
The Preserve at Haaf Farms residents would be in the Licking Heights School District whereas Haaf Farms is in the Pickerington Local School District.
Rittman also suggested crime rates in Violet Township could spike by connecting two zip codes that experience disparate levels of crime.
Oct. 2, a number of Haaf Farms residents appeared at the Violet Township trustees meeting to express concerns as well as to urge the trustees to take action to prevent the connector.
Oct. 9, the Violet Township Trustees sent letters to Etna Township's Board of Trustees and the Fairfield County Regional Planning Commission relaying those concerns.
Holly Mattei, executive director of the Fairfield County Regional Planning Commission, responded by letter Oct. 15 in which she stated the Fairfield County RPC "supports the extension of this road."
She wrote that Fairfield County subdivision regulations mandate that "the street pattern shall make provision for the continuance of streets into adjacent areas."
Furthermore, Mattei wrote that Sunladen Drive, in Violet Township, "was designed for the possibility of it being extended in the future to the north in Licking County,"
Bill Yaple, Violet Township administrator, said there is little the township can do to prevent the extension.
"We don't govern how roads connect because that is done under the Fairfield County RPC," Yaple said.
"The subdivision has to comply with that (sub-regulation)," he said.
He said what complicates the issue is Haaf Farms and The Preserve at Haaf Farms are "two different subdivisions in two different counties in two different governing townships."
Rittman said, short of protracted litigation, the Haaf Farms homeowners association at least wants to secure deed restrictions for the Preserve at Haaf Farms to ensure property values are protected.
Etna Township Administrator Rob Platte said the Etna Township Trustees will hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. Nov. 12 "to discuss the development plan."
Platte said, if necessary, the hearing might carry over to 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 16, which is the date of the next Etna Township trustees meeting.