A statue of a child at Grailville – photo provided by Kevin and Laurie Kiley
Introduction by Kevin Kiley
What’s going on in Loveland this week?
The City of Loveland is currently reviewing an application for a large housing development on the east side of Loveland. This 111 acre parcel of land, a historic property currently owned by Grailville, was recently annexed into Loveland and is under contract to Drees Homes “with an option to buy” for $7.3 million. Drees has requested that Loveland re-zone the site to a special planning district (SPD) and approve an exception to build more than twice the number of homes permitted by current zoning. This same property was offered to Loveland Schools but failed to pass levies in the months preceding the pandemic.
Why does this matter?
Several concerns have been addressed to the Loveland Planning and Zoning Comission on how this new development will impact Loveland, including its effect on traffic, parking, schools, and other taxpayer expenses. This proposed new housing development borders 100 acres of nature preserve now owned by the Clermont County Parks District. A growing number of forward-thinking residents see this additional 111 acres as an incredible opportunity for Loveland to build something amazing for all who live in Loveland, not just a select few.
How can I get involved?
The next Loveland Planning and Zoning meeting is Wednesday, May 4th at 7 PM at Loveland City Hall. Please attend to learn more and show support—help us pack the room. There will be a sign-in sheet in the room for anyone who wishes to speak.
To residents and elected decision makers of Loveland
by Laurie Kiley
As I sit to put my feelings about the development of the Grailville property into writing, Joanie Mitchell’s lyrics are stuck in my head…
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot
While I am a tree hugger in my soul I am also realistic that as humankind continues to evolve nature will always be at risk. We must be diligent to make personal choices—and choices as a community—that result in the greatest legacy for those who come after us. We cannot be shortsighted.
That being said, my biggest concern here today is actually about accountability. Loveland residents elect our Council to have privileged access to information on our behalf. We expect that they are making decisions holistically and with the future in mind well beyond their tenure.
As accountable Council members, we implore you to not make easy compromises today that lead to deeper issues for our community tomorrow. The full impact of every rezoning decision, every parking garage, and every field that is eliminated must be considered.
In our personal lives, it is irresponsible to spend beyond our means or to act now and think later.
Likewise, it would be irresponsible for our Council to make decisions that put Loveland’s future at risk.
The Grail is entitled to sell the property they cannot afford to hold. Drees is entitled to request an exception to maximize its profits and create a space to benefit 209 new households. Loveland Council, however, is not obligated to create new laws to make it possible.
I want to go back to my previous point about encouraging holistic decision-making. Here is a summary of inter-related concerns from my point of view:
- The Drees proposal outlines lot dimensions that equate to .16 acres that are 70% covered by house at worst, and .27 acre lots that are 60% covered by house at best. In contrast, Loveland’s current zoning stipulates 1 acre per lot for new development. If Drees accepts current zoning then it’s a done deal and within our regulations.
- The traffic studies—limited as they were—confirm that this development would increase traffic through downtown by over 2,000 trips daily. Loveland residents know that the true impact of congestion is felt most a peak times like the school commute, rush hour, and all weekend long when good weather brings visitors to our bike trail for hours of entertainment outside our borders. Council should avoid decisions that worsen our traffic problems before a viable solution has been identified.
- Tearing up East Loveland Avenue to install bigger sewage pipes would be necessary and the treatment plant may or may not already be maxed out. Loveland’s taxpayers require clarity and full disclosure about who would absorb the cost to resolve these concerns before any new SPD zoning exceptions are approved.
- More houses will result in more tax income and the majority would go to our schools but it would also add more kids and related expenses. This will overburden our situation. If the reputation of our schools degrades then everything else in the ecosystem will start failing also.
If Council is contractually obligated to respond to this SPD then the answer must be “no” until we can thoughtfully consider the big picture.
Yes, “something must be built here”. Let’s build something that benefits the entire community. Let’s build something that will make Loveland even more cherished by its citizens and inspires hope for its future.
Please don’t cite failed levies of the past. There’s no need for blame in any direction. Those levies only indicate that the expectations of the planners and the voters were not in line. Time has certainly moved on, so must we. We need to learn from those experiences and move forward together.
Loveland needs to stand up for itself. We need to be bold and brave and involved in order to maintain our character and identity as a community. By NOT approving this SPD our elected Council would give Loveland a huge opportunity to help The Grail and Loveland find an optimal solution to the benefit of all.