Genoa Township Residents for Responsible Development

UPDATE: Residents have turned down the proposed amendment with a commanding 76.5% vote!

Genoa Township Zoning Amendment Referendum

On April 9, 2018, dozens of residents stood up in our township hall (link to meeting audio) against a developer looking to rezone 43 acres, bordering Hoover Reservoir, to put in 64 condos spaced 12 feet apart. Trustees Karl Gebhardt and Connie Goodman voted to allow the development (named The Ravines at Hoover), despite our zoning commission turning it down 5-0. This was a dangerous precident to set, as ALL future development in our township will have justification for this high-density model. In the aftermath, Over 1,600 residents signed a petition to place this zoning change on the November 6 ballot by way of referendum. Our goal is that every registered voter will turn out to Vote NO and show developers and Trustees Gebhardt and Goodman what Genoa Township residents really want!

See a sample ballot here.

The details of the development and the opposition are below. Or take a look at answers to the developer's claims here.

  • The case was made by the land owner (Benton Benalcazer) that no profit could be made in Genoa by building anything but these types of high density condos. This has recently been used as justification for the recent demolition of three homes on Old 3C, and a plan for "Grace's Place" submitted to replace them with 21 condos. For this reason you will see Vote Yes signs covering similar properties - they want to make a mint at our expense too!!
  • If this zoning amendment is approved, it will give legal precedent for every open plot of land to be filled with high-density condos.
  • The Delaware County Master Plan, as well as our township's Comprehensive Plan, allocates resources according to a much sparser land use pattern. We've all seen what happens to infrastructure that is over capacity. Have you noticed Worthington Rd, Rt 3, Polaris, Big Walnut, or Sunbury Rd backing up with traffic more than it did a year or two ago? This is only the beginning.
  • Trustee Karl Gebhardt made it clear that he would support those that supported him. His campaign was financed by developers. Trustees Gebhardt and Goodman claimed they based their rezoning decision on advice from assitant prosecuting attorney Andrew King. A resident later requested public records between Mr. King and Trustee Gebhardt (pertaining to the rezoning advice) and was denied and publicly intimidated at a township meeting.
Karl smiles after approving

Karl Gebhardt defiant and congratulating the Benalcazers after approving The Ravines at Hoover Rezoning

Our goal is to educate every resident in the township, and not blindly follow the Yes signs that are popping up on vacant land, and lots owned by Romanelli & Hughes and The Robert Weiler Company - both well known and well connected developers. Some of the objections raised during the hearing are below.

residents
  • The Benalcazers THREATENED the township with attorneys and the infamous hog farm alternative. Many residents were emotionally distraught as a result. The Benalcazers' references were checked, and it was proven to be an elaborate scam, nothing more than a bullying technique to scare residents into letting them do what they want. Benton Benalcazer even admitted to a resident while soliciting 'Yes' sign locations that he was never going to put in the hog farm.
  • The Benalcazers claimed to have lived at their Genoa home for 17 years. However, their children did not attend the area schools and they were rarely seen by neighboring residents. The home is considered to be a weekend retreat.
  • The Benalcazers have a history of using lawyers to bully the residents and township. Prior to submitting their zoning application, their attorney sent a letter to the township threatening to build the hog farm, and also had it sent to area news outlets. Shortly after they purchased the property their attorney sent a similar threatening letter to a neighbor. That neighbor had never seen nor heard from them prior to that. It is a testament to their character, and should come as no surprise considering their hog farm actions.
  • During the hearings, the Benalcazers and their legal team refused to budge on lowering the density. They are paid on a per lot basis, so the more lots there are, the more money they make. The residents present were not anit-development, they only opposed over-development.
  • Attorney Joe Miller on several occasions lashed out directly at residents and intimidated them with legal jargon and threats of recourse if the plan was not approved.
referendum
  • The proposed density is over 2.5x the allowable density per our township's Comprehensive Plan (a document that is less than 2 years old).
  • Condos in the development are spaced 12 feet apart, while 100% of the surrounding area consists of homes 75-100 feet apart.
  • Big Walnut Schools are already overcrowded, and narrowly passed a levy to build new facilities that can barely handle the current student enrollment. Many students attend class in temporary trailers.
  • The main arterial roads through the township are becoming increasingly congested, especially during rush hour times. This development would add 150 more cars to the traffic pile.
  • The nearby grocery stores and service plazas lack ample parking to support the ballooning population.
  • The plan calls for a bridge crossing a large ravine though the property, disrupting the preserved area of the development.
benalcazers
  • Over Thousands of cubic feet of fill dirt will be required to build a 12' retention wall, disrupting natural drainage patterns for all residents on the east side. Further, at least one existing resident will be staring at a 12 foot retention wall in their back yard.
  • 43 acres of natural draining farmland will be storm drained into the retention pond. The pond's overflow during heavy rains will rush through a culvert under an elderly neighbor's drive, likely washing it out and leaving her stranded.
  • The increased traffic entering and exiting the development will complicate two already dangerous intersections, those of Tussic and Big Walnut, and Tussic and Old 3c. It is not uncommon to see accidents at both of those intersections. The traffic study done by the applicant was skewed to prevent them from having to pay for a traffic signal.
  • One of the Benalcazars' main claims was the tax windfall the township would receive. Realistically, the development will put a greater financial burden on the township than the small amount of tax money it will bring in. If they cared about Genoa receiving tax money they would have paid their fair share, instead of claimng 'farm use' on their vacant, grassy land. This allowed them to pay less taxes than each of the adjoining homes on less than 2 acres.

Residents are encouraged to listen for themselves to audio of the Zoning Commission and Trustees meetings on the topic. You can also contact our trustees to express your concerns at trustees@genoatwp.com.

ZC Meeting January 8

ZC Meeting February 12

ZC Meeting March 12

Trustee Meeting April 9

Below is a map of the proposed development, with neighboring properties highlighted. This is NOT a development adjacent to another development. The Ravines at Hoover is an unprecedented attack on Genoa's Residents. Find the current Genoa Township zoning map here.

ravines at hoover