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Op-Ed: Villa Hills Project is Not the Result of Community Input

Mr. John Yeager’s recent opinion regarding the proposed development by Ashley development failed to mention the single largest feature of the project. It is this aspect that has generated unprecedented opposition to a zoning change. Ashley wants to build a massive, four-story apartment building with 187 units and 300 parking spaces. Nothing similar exists in Villa Hills or any surrounding community. More than 2,000 citizens of Villa Hills have opposed this project.

Villa Hills has been a quiet residential community of mostly single family homes for generations. The city’s history includes being recognized as the most livable community in all of Greater Cincinnati. The current controversy comes down to this: Ashley is proposing to change the city forever, but residents of Villa Hills want to preserve the character of their community as it has existed for decades.

Mr. Yeager goes to great lengths to detail the history of this project. He outlines two years of effort that include public meetings and work with government officials. However, what Mr. Yeager is very careful not to say is that the largest element of the proposed development was never discussed in this two-year process. Mr. Yeager highlights green space, walking trails, and single family homes. Area residents have supported these features. However, they are adamantly opposed to constructing a super-sized apartment building in Villa Hills.

It is true that the owners of the property sought community input regarding the development of their property. And it is fair to say that not all owners would seek comments from area residents about how to use their property. But it is untrue to indicate that the project proposed by Ashley was in response to the wishes expressed by the community.

Hundreds of citizens submitted ideas regarding the property. Not a single one of these comments supported the concept of a large scale apartment building.

Moreover, it is not just area residents who were shocked by the gigantic apartment building. While city officials had discussions with the property owners during a two-year period, city council members have indicated that a 187-unit apartment building with a parking lot big enough for a shopping center came as a complete surprise. Quite simply, it is a charade to indicate that Ashley’s proposed development is the product of community input.

The traffic issue addressed by Mr. Yeager should also be corrected and clarified. He suggests Amsterdam Road has the capacity for 25,000 cars per day. This represents a 400 percent increase over current usage. Area residents know this is totally unrealistic.

The 25,000-cars-per-day figure is a boilerplate calculation for a two-lane road. It does not consider the particular circumstances of Amsterdam Road in Villa Hills. Amsterdam Road is the primary access road for school buses and private transportation to multiple schools including River Ridge Elementary, which is one of the largest elementary schools in the Commonwealth. Prior to any new traffic being added, Amsterdam Road is already congested during peak times.

In order to facilitate additional development, the “Villa Hills Study” and the “Kenton County Comprehensive Plan” mentioned by Mr. Yeager, both have recommended reconstructing Amsterdam Road. The City of Villa Hills estimates the cost of these improvements to be $10,500,000. Villa Hills has not obtained the first dollar of state or county funding to pay for these upgrades.

Mr. Yeager does not live in Villa Hills. The reason he is writing is obvious. Mr. Yeager is the developer of the project and he has an enormous profit interest in this venture. He says in conclusion that his development will improve the quality of life in Villa Hills. More than 2,000 people who do live in Villa Hills disagree.

Written by Bob Stevens, a Villa Hills resident and member of the group Defend Villa Hills, formed in opposition to the Ashley project
Photo: Site of planned Ashley development at St. Walberg Monastery (RCN file)