by Tom Scovanner – On behalf of the Grailville Land Preservation Group
Imagine a place just outside of Loveland Ohio that serves as a foundation for an economy powered by outdoor recreation. Loveland has an opportunity to create a place that will be a beacon of hope and peace, a place where everyone in the community feels welcome and connected, coupled with the opportunity to experience the mental and physical health benefits of being in nature and the sacredness of the land. According to the Trust for Public Land, ‘Quality parks and green space are a fundamental requirement for sustaining healthy, equitable, resilient communities.’
Drees Homes had hoped to develop 111 acres owned by The Grail since the early 1940’s into a 209-unit housing development. This rural oasis just outside of Loveland has been a ‘sacred space for women who value peace and care of the earth’ according to The Grail’s website.
When members of the community learned of the Drees proposal, an organic, grassroots organization of smart, engaged, well informed and dedicated people went to work to protect the land. We, the Grailville Land Preservation Group are environmentalists, naturalists, neighbors, lawyers, mothers, fathers and children, Grail members, community leaders and organizers, farmers, business owners, people of faith, historians, and past Grail participants. While our group is diverse, what brings us together is a visceral desire to protect the land from development.
We first needed to prevent Drees from getting a zoning change from the current zoning of Residential Low-Density, 1 acre lots. While Drees states that they intended to “maximize green space” in actuality, Drees’ objective was to build as many houses as possible on the land. Looking at the topography, some 37 acres are undevelopable; Add in roads and other infrastructure, less than 70 acres are developable for housing. On those 70 acres, Drees wanted to build 209 houses, more than triple the density currently allowed.
The standing room only crowds at the two Planning and Zoning meetings saw over 20 people speaking against the proposal at each meeting and only one person speaking in favor. Many issues were presented by those who spoke, including the need to maintain greenspace, preserving the unique historic site, demolition of historic buildings, concerns about increased traffic, demands on Loveland’s infrastructure and the costs of the necessary improvements. Others spoke about the negative revenue stream to the city caused by the increased populations and adding students to the school district already using portable classrooms.
Loveland is on the verge of approving a new comprehensive master plan for the city which stipulates it should ‘continue to aggressively preserve land for open space to ensure that our community remains a green haven for our residents and wildlife.’ We agree and desire to partner with like-minded people to accomplish this goal.
Yes, Corporate Grail and Drees wanted to change the zoning to build a large compressed housing development because they would both make more money, but the community said no and many individual members of the Grail agreed.
The members of the Grailville Land Preservation Group have no motives other than honoring the legacy of the Grail and stewarding this land into the future in a way that preserves it for the benefit of all. We hope to have the opportunity to partner with the Grail to find an alternate path for the Grail land, one that incorporates many of the values that the Grail taught.
The real story that needs to be told is that everyday citizens living in and around Loveland spoke up to preserve the land and at least for now, preservation triumphed over development.
On behalf of the Grailville Land Preservation Group
To reach out to help protect this sacred land, you can contact us on the Nextdoor app under the group ‘Grailville Land Preservation Group’ or follow our blog at grailvillesacredpathways.substack.com
EDITOR’S NOTE: After the Loveland Planning and Zoning Commission denied the request by Drees to rezone the property they were going to buy from the Grail the contract between the two parties was not extended. ([Complete Video] Rezoning of Grailville denied)