Residents want council to make sure it protects MacIvor Woods before permitting an adjacent development.
At Monday’s public hearing for the Residences at Bethel Woods, Mela Kircher expressed concern for the MacIvor Woods conservation easement.
“I do think more needs to be done to protect the preserve,” Kircher said.
Residences at Bethel Woods is a 51-home, development planned for 14 acres behind the Kroger Marketplace and adjacent to the MacIvor Woods. The development will be a mix of 31, freestanding condominiums and 20 townhome style homes in eight buildings.
Kircher addressed a variety of concerns with the plan including lighting, invasive plants and the ability for residents to enter the area without using the proper entrance.
She asked the developer to consider fully shielded light fixtures that would prevent light above 90 degrees.
“This prevents excess light from penetrating the preserve,” Kircher said. “Darkness is essential to the wildlife in the preserve that they have darkness.”
Kircher provided council with a handout from the International Dark-Sky Association, a group whose stated mission is to “preserve and protect the nighttime environment and our heritage of dark skies through environmentally responsible outdoor lighting.”
According to the information provided, fixtures that produce glare and light trespass are unacceptable.
“Fixtures that shield the light source to minimize glare and light trespass and to facilitate better vision at night,” are listed as acceptable.
She also provided council with information from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources listing the state’s invasive plant species. Several of the plants listed on the Bethel Woods landscaping plan are among the listed invasive species. Kircher said there is “potential for these to migrate into the preserve.”
The resident, who lives on Residence Drive, which also abuts MacIvor Woods, said people walk through her condo community to get into the preservation area. She said that rather than use established entrances, pedestrians use what she called “social paths.” While in the conservation area, they deposit yard waste and other items.
“These all damage the ecosystem, in particular by smothering the soil beneath,” Kircher said.
She asked council to require a fence around MacIvor Woods, forcing users to enter on the appropriate paths.
Council member Mark Reams asked if there was a fence around portions of the conservation area.
Kircher said there is a fence in some areas, “but it is very much fallen down.”
As part of the discussion, Kircher asked city officials, developers and the public to not refer to MacIvor Woods as a park. She said the land is a preserve, not a park. Public Service Director Mike Andrako corrected her, saying the land is in a “conservation easement.” He said he does not refer to the area as a park.
“I know it is very important that we don’t think of it as a park, that we think of it as what it is,” Andrako said.
Council member Deborah Groat stressed that the name of the area is MacIvor Woods, not Mcivor Woods. She stressed that the family name is MacIvor and Dr. Malcolm MacIvor was a family friend who deserves to be remembered correctly.
Local Attorney Tony Eufinger, representing the property owner, said all of Kircher’s questions were valid.
“I think all of these are within the parameters of what we can talk about when we talk with the developer,” Eufinger said.
He said many of the plants on the landscaping plan were conceptual for the plan review, but he said a botanist could provide information on better options. Eufinger said he would “drill more deeply” into a fencing option.
“Lighting – we will work with the developer specifically,” he said.
Bobb Alloway, the property owner who is developing the project, said fencing was not included because the trees on the development property, a steep slope and a creek provide a natural buffer discouraging residents from just walking into MacIvor Woods. He added that senior residents are more likely to appreciate the provided paths rather than using the terrain.
Council member Alan Seymour said it is important that residents in the area understand MacIvor Woods “is not their backyard.”
“They need to use the appropriate entrance just like everyone else does,” Seymour said.
Eufinger reminded council that the property is currently zoned for traffic oriented commercial development. He said light, noise and pollution from that type of use would be “far more invasive” than the “well kept” high end housing proposed.
He said the proximity to the conservation area is part of what will attract condo buyers to the community. He said there are “interests on all sides of this that will work for the preservation of the conservation district.”
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