Franklin trustees object to 50-acre annexation

Amanda Garrett

The Franklin Township Trustees sent a letter to the Portage County Board of Commissioners objecting to the annexation of 50 acres of farmland to the city of Kent.

The former Lappin Farm runs along the border between Stow, Kent and Franklin Township, and is currently zoned for farming, Franklin trustee Mark Beckwith said.

In the letter the trustees said the development of 100 homes on the Lappin farm will cause “severe flooding in the area” and increased traffic on township roads. This letter delayed the county commissioners’ vote from last week to March 2.

Stonewater Development asked for the annexation because Kent is better able to provide utilities such as sewer and water, Stonewater owner Bob Heimann said.

Heimann also said his company, which built two previous developments in Kent, has a “good” relationship with city officials.

Franklin Township resident Delbert Stewart said residents can’t block the annexation, but they can be sure it’s done in the proper manner.

“The city of Kent wants the annexation because they want the tax base,” he said. “Well, they should also be responsible for the headaches caused by the development, not the township.”

Stewart sent a separate letter to the county commissioners asking them to make the city of Kent responsible for any flooding or property damage caused by the development.

“It’s already a floodplain,” he said. “The owner has had to set up pumps for about 10 years. Imagine what it’s going to be like with all those gutters and downspouts.”

Stonewater plans to deal with the flooding problem by redirecting water run-off to a lake and to a wetlands area on the property, Heimann said.

“Our proposal for that problem is a very extensive one,” he said. “If we put our plan into place, we’ll be down to zero discharge in a year.”

The company plans to dig a lake into which water will flow and also to allow some of the acres that are now being farmed to return to their natural wetland state, Heimann said.

“Right now when it rains all the water winds up in a fish creek,” he said. “We’ll help the flooding problem by diverting it to the wetlands.”

Beckwith said the trustees also questioned whether the type of housing is appropriate for the community.

Heimann described the homes as single family units, which will be built in clusters around areas of natural preservation.

The development will decrease property values for township residents, Stewart said.

“People whose homes used to overlook a landscape, will now be looking at a cluster of homes,” he said.

If the county commissioners approve the annexation the new homes will probably be ready in about a year, Heimann said.

“Realistically it will probably be more than a year,” he said. “Things usually move slower than you hope.”

Contact public affairs reporter Amanda Garrett at [email protected]