The Genoa Township Zoning Commission unanimously rejected a preliminary development plan for the Ravines at Hoover at its meeting on March 12.

The commission also denied rezoning the nearly 43 acres at 4741 Tussic St. from Rural Residential (RR) to Planned Residential Development (PRD). Since meeting with the commission on Feb. 12, the applicant had reduced the number of single-family homes (with a minimum size of 1,700 square feet) from 67 to 64, with asking prices in the $600,000 range. Other revisions included a new entrance at Tussic instead of Oxbow Road, and more open space. It was also promised that local builder Vince Romanelli was in contract to build the development near a quiet upper portion of the Hoover Reservoir.

Attorneys representing property owner/applicant Katherine Benalcazar said they lost a couple lots due to sloping issues, but they felt their changes were “rational” and “moving in the right direction.”

However, commission members said the 1.89 homes per acre would still be in excess of the net density for RR property (yet within the range for PRD). The attorneys countered by saying the density was “aspirational” and variances should be permitted, which would comply with the “force of law.”

The March meeting was a continuation of a meeting on Jan. 8 in which there was public comment. There was no public comment at the February meeting, but residents were given a chance to speak out once again. Most were opposed to the Ravines at Hoover.

Among those comments: “We are rural and want to maintain rural zoning … that’s why we have a comprehensive plan;” “It’s not up to this applicant to change the rules;” “It’s a slap in the face to our community;” “I don’t think this plan for a massive housing development is neighborly;” “Varying (density) this much is very wrong … there is no bottom in sight if we continue down this road.”

Other concerns included traffic, fencing off the development’s retention ponds from children, wetland mitigation and conservation.

“Our job is not to stop growth, but to manage it,” said zoning commission member Jill Rudler.

“My job is not to help you make money,” added commission member Sharon Faulkner to the applicants. “There’s too many lots on this property. I have concerns about the density.”

“We’ve been down this road many times,” said commission member Tara Pacorek. “I was hoping at this point we’d have more compromise on the density. Knowing our arguments, why wasn’t that done here?”

Commission members said the Ravines at Hoover failed to “preserve and extend the charm and beauty existent in and inherent to the rural residential character of Genoa” and other township policies.

Prior to the 4-0 vote, an attorney for the applicant told the commission the property could become a pig farm for 2,400 head of swine if the housing development is not approved. Signs for Genoa Finishing Barns have been placed on the property. During the public comment portion of the two-and-a-half-hour hearing, one resident who lived nearby said, “I prefer people to pigs.”

The Genoa Township Board of Trustees met on March 15 and set the next hearing for the property for Monday, April 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the Township Hall, Zoning Director Joe Shafer said in an email.

The revised plan for the Ravines at Hoover. revised plan for the Ravines at Hoover. Courtesy drawing

Signs for Genoa Finishing Barns sit on the property for the proposed Ravines at Hoover. for Genoa Finishing Barns sit on the property for the proposed Ravines at Hoover. Gary Budzak | The Sunbury News

By Gary Budzak

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Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.